After taking a second kick at the hive, the town of Quispamsis New Brunswick is moving forward with a bylaw to regulate beekeeping activity in the town.

Last spring, considerable public outcry shelved an initial version of the bylaw, after over a dozen beekeepers, gardeners, and friends of bees took issue with the limited number of beehives and a $300 fee for owners, along with a requirement for beekeepers to go before the town’s planning advisory committee before setting up their hives.

Now, the updated bylaw allows “hobby beekeeping” with a maximum of four hives in residential areas, and eight hives in rural zones of the town.

If people want to have bees in other zones, they have to apply to the town’s planning advisory committee for a variance, with a $300 price tag.

The town also nixed requiring beekeepers to hold liability insurance. 

Beekeepers must apply for a $50 development fee in order to have bees, planning technologist Jennifer Jarvis told council. 

The bylaw also dictates the minimum size of a lot for hobby beekeeping, says where the hives should be located on the property, and includes a “nuisance” clause that says the bees must be removed from a property if the bees are “causing a substantial and  unreasonable interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of their land and or property.”

Jarvis said the bylaw aims to balance “what we need for beekeepers and residents.”

The bylaw passed its first and second reading on Tuesday night, with all councillors voting in favour of it except Coun. Noah Donovan, who said last spring he would not support any bylaw to regulate beekeeping activity after hearing the arguments of over a dozen residents against the bylaw.

At the time, residents said council was rushing the bylaw.

“Without bees, we don’t have food,” said Quispamsis resident Joe Doucette. “Without food, we’ll die. Any bylaw that could impact food is absolutely crazy. I oppose it for that reason only.”

Jennifer Anderson said the proposed bylaw upset her to the point that she has considered leaving Quispamsis after living there happily for 20 years.

“This goes beyond being worried about bee poop on expensive vehicles,” she said. “If this spreads to municipalities and other towns, we’re doing a disservice to our youth and future generations.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, nobody spoke against the new version of the bylaw, though two residents spoke in favour of it, including Jocelyn Smith, whose 2021 presentation to council sparked an investigation into the creation of a town beekeeping bylaw.

“It’s been a challenge,” she told council. “While we’re hopeful for success, I think we have to think about the possibility of failure.”

Smith said she would like to see bees removed from a property if they’re found to be a nuisance.

Jarvis said if beekeepers are found to be a nuisance, the beekeeper’s developer permit can be revoked, “which would result in the removal of the bees,” she added the bees could be relocated.

Those who currently keep bees will be “brought into line” with the bylaw, she said, though the town can’t ask existing beekeepers to reduce their number of existing hives, meaning they’ll be “legally non-conforming.”

By Marlo Glass, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 04, 2023