City of Sioux Falls Considers Changing Beekeeping Regulations

For Sioux Falls residents who have been thinking about taking up beekeeping as a hobby in the backyard, it may soon be allowed. Right now there’s a ban on raising bee colonies in the city. However, two city council members are taking the first steps to change that. 

Not only are bee populations diminishing, but Sioux Falls City Councilor Theresa Stehly says having an “urban beekeeping ordinance” would be a small step in improving the city’s sustainability.

“Anything we can do to help facilitate their activity is going to be a plus for everything from our food, to our air quality, to the pollination of beautiful flowers,” said Stehly. 

She and council member Janet Brekke are working on a proposal to legalize beekeeping. They say they’ve looked at other communities that already allow it.

“From Stillwater, Minnesota; Saint Paul, Minnesota and Rapid City where they’ve had successful beekeeping activity and what we’re hearing is that there’s been no problem with it,” said Stehly. 

The proposal has three main focuses to ensure that people are going to be safe and feel secure. One is education. Those interested must become certified and take a beekeeping class. Another is the registration factor. Beekeepers must have a permit. Beekeeping would also be regulated.

“There will be a mandate that you have to get permission from an abiding property owner and also get the buy in from a surrounding area before you can put a hive in,” said Stehly. 

Tim Olsen has been a beekeeper for around 10 years and teaches beekeeping classes in Sioux Falls. 

“I think if people have bees in the neighborhood, the neighborhoods going to benefit from increased pollination, which means more vegetables, more fruits more vibrant flowers,” said Olsen. 

He says people shouldn’t be concerned about having a beehive in their neighborhood. 

“The person who’s most likely to be stung is the beekeeper him or herself. And too often bees are being blamed for stings when it’s really wasps or hornets,” said Olsen. 

Six foot tall barriers like a fence or dense vegetation would also be required to limit the interaction between the bees and other people. Also, a beekeeper could only have as many as four hives.

Olsen says beekeeping isn’t for everyone as you have to invest a lot of time into it to be successful and it’s an expensive hobby. Because of this and how highly regulated beekeeping would be, city councilors don’t expect most residents to participate. They’re estimating only around five to 10 people. 

There isn’t a date set yet for the first reading of the proposed ordinance at city council.

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