Unintended Benefits

It was a little over seven months ago when the Naperville city council began to put the squeeze on honey bees in Naperville. It all started when one resident brought her agitation about the birds and the bees and her water feeder to council chambers, and requested that something be done to solve her problem. The city council jumped at the opportunity to do what they enjoy doing; placing more restrictions on residents. When the dust settled, Naperville had a brand new shining ordinance limiting the number of bee hives a resident can have on their property. It had never been a problem in the last 186 years, going back to 1831 when Naperville was incorporated. Residents, bees, birds, water, and flowers were living with each other quite nicely.

Jump ahead to this spring, and rather than having fewer beehives and bees, there are more. With city officials attempting to placate one resident and reducing the already dwindling bee population, more residents decided to take up the productive activity of beekeeping, including at least one resident very near to the resident who presented the “problem” to the council.

Honeybees typically travel within two miles from their home, but can go up to four to six miles. It has been estimated that one out of every three bites of food is because of bees. With urban sprawl and pesticide spraying including lawn care products, the bees have been struggling to do their job, so when city officials attempted to make it even more difficult for the honey bees, some of the fine folks of Naperville have come to the rescue.

One resident added two beehives to her property and is excited to provide honey to her neighbors. Another Naperville resident added a beehive to their property for the prime purpose of Bee Venom Therapy (BVT), using the sting of a bee to reduce inflammation.

When the city council enacted the ordinance to regulate beehives and in essence reduce the number of honeybees, they didn’t anticipate the unintended benefits of increasing the overall number of beehives and honeybees. Imagine if all ordinances had unintended benefits, residents would be lined up during public forum demanding more regulations.

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  1. Jim Haselhorst

    I think residents keeping Honeybees is a great idea and the newest hive boxes make this very easy for anyone. But honeybees are actually a small percentage of the pollinators in the bee community.

    Bees that do not live in hives (Dirt/soil bees, Bubble bees, tree bees) but live in holes as mated pairs are the largest group of be pollinators in nature. These type of bees are the least aggressive, but because they live in holes made in soil or plants are most exposed to pesticides (all seven of the bee species on the endangered list come from these groups). I have an area of soil in my yard that I do not disturb and each year around a hundred soil bees show up to borrow into this dirt and mate. The reality is that honeybees are not native to North American and came from Europe.

    Most important to bee survival is environment. Plant flowers that produce lots of pollen of different varieties so you have flowering plant from spring to fall and do not us pesticide around them. Also bees need water; a bird bath with rocks that can provide bees with places to perch work well.

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