Prairie Village votes on ordinance allowing residents to keep bees

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. -- A different kind of pet could be allowed in Prairie Village as of Monday night: bees. City Council will vote on an ordinance to allow residents to keep bees legally in the city.

"They're like penguins, they're shivering in there trying to keep the queen warm," said Jonathan Callison, a beekeeper in Prairie Village.

Callison has had a small hive in his backyard home for almost a year now.

"It's traditional that bee keepers give a small jar of obeyer, large jar of honey  depending on how nervous the neighbor is, to a neighbor as a payback for living near a bee hive," he said.

He says his neighbors all know of his hive even though it's technically not allowed. Bees are listed as a nuisance in city code. A proposed change will soon make beekeeping legal.

"People who want them in their yards plant things bees want to come to. People who don't want them in their yard, they don't plant things bees would want to go to and they're not going to see any bees," said Callison.

The revised ordinance went to City Council last week. They unanimously voted on a set of proposed changes. Callison says he's excited about the move forward.

"It's our responsibility to be good stewards of the earth and its treasures," said Callison.

CIty Council member Laura Wassmer suggested the ordinance change. In an email, she wrote that she took classes at Johnson County Community College which contained information about bee keeping.

"After learning from my instructors that more and more people are adopting bee keeping as a hobby or small business, that one third of the food we eat needs bee pollination to grow, and that bees are generally docile in nature if left undisturbed, I thought we should consider taking bees off of our ‘dangerous animal’ list,” wrote Wassmer.“We had several residents attend our council meetings who were supportive of the ordinance change and who volunteered to work with our police department on the specific bee keeping requirements. They are excited for the change and for the opportunity to keep bees in Prairie Village. The City Council discussed the issue and agreed to the changes. Maybe in the next few years we will see our local restaurants proudly serving Prairie Village honey!"

There are a couple of guidelines beekeepers must abide by:

  • maintain local source of water for bees
  • two-hive limit
  • hives kept 10 feet away from property line
  • hives must be kept within a yard with a fence

Callison says honeybees have a bad reputation since they are often grouped with wasps and hornets. But after caring for nearly 80,000 honeybees, he says it’s safe to say they're pretty docile insects.

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