Man’s bees get to buzz for summer
A hive of honey bees that was about to be evicted from Dominion Street will continue to buzz through the summer.
Amateur beekeeper Tom Nevin has kept a hive in his backyard for the last five years but, when a neighbour called bylaw services to complain earlier this month he was left with two options: Get rid of the bees or pay $800 to keep the hive on his small lot.
Nevin wanted to see that fee reduced or waived altogether and argued his bees provide a valuable service to the community since they pollinate food and flowers.
Nevin said he hasn’t had any issues with the bees and, when he first installed the hive, his neighbours were sometimes curious, but supportive.
“I have two daughters, eight and 10,” he said.
“My backyard is like a child’s birthday party every weekend: Little girls in flower dresses running around and having a good time. The honeybees just leave the hive, come back to the hive. They want nothing to do with people.”
He’s not making money off the bees, either — the honey goes to family and friends or gets traded for deer pepperoni and homemade salsa.
Councillors praised Nevin for his helpful hobby, but stopped short of waiving the fee.
“I think Tom is an exemplary citizen” said Donovan Cavers, one of the few councillors to argue the $800 charge should be dropped.
“We’re pushing for a sustainable community and he’s doing just that.
“To punish him for taking a leading approach is absolutely backward.”
Tina Lange said she was “sure your bees have been helping my yard and I think it’s sort of silly you have to be here before us today.”
But, other councillors said they didn’t want to start changing fees off the cuff.
“I’m not in the mood to simply waive a fee,” said Nancy Bepple.
“There are costs to our staff and there is a development variance process.”
Mayor Peter Milobar said waiving fees because a homeowner’s project does some good sets a precedent council might not like.
“The conversation around the table isn’t whether or not the fee is fair, it’s that it’s not fair because it’s doing a common good.
“I guess you could extend the argument to say that basement suites do a common good because they provide affordable housing,” he said.
Rather than waive the fee, council decided to wait for a report from the Agricultural Advisory Committee this fall that is expected to contain new recommendations for beekeeping in the city and could change Nevin’s situation.
Nelly Dever said bees are a hot topic at committee discussions, and suggested council simply stop enforcing the beekeeping section of its animal control bylaw until recommendations come in — letting Nevin’s hive stay in place for now without any cash changing hands.