Everything you need to know about backyard beekeeping in Airdrie

There has been a lot of buzz in Airdrie lately about the city becoming bee-friendly and thus more sustainable. In 2014, Airdrie’s Urban Agriculture Program started moving the city towards more health-conscious and sustainable community values. Most recently, urban beekeeping moved to the top of the program’s list as to how the community can incorporate this initiative and present it to the public.

In 2018, the Airdrie City Council approved the Urban Beekeeping Pilot Project (UBPP). The UBPP was designed as a two-phase project that will allow Airdrie to evaluate the benefits and the full impact of agricultural pollination on the environment as well as incorporating urban beekeeping into the community on a not-for-profit basis. Phase one consisted of implementing beekeeping colonies on city-owned lands, whereas phase two will allow for beekeeping colonies to be kept on private property within city limits, beginning in April 2019. If you’re interested in backyard urban beekeeping, here’s what you need to know.

  • What is backyard urban beekeeping? Urban or backyard beekeeping is the practice of housing bee colonies in urban areas or your very own backyard, also commonly referred to as residential beekeeping. The backyard beekeeping trend has become increasingly popular in recent years as a means to protect our pollinators.
  • Does raising a bee colony to require a permit? Currently, beekeeping within the City of Airdrie is prohibited under the ‘Animal Control’ bylaw unless permitted by the Airdrie Urban Agriculture Program. The UBPP is currently designated under this program, meaning that Airdrie residents can practice raising honeybee colonies with the correct permit.
  • Where can a bee colony be located? The UBPP guidelines require that beekeeping is restricted to low-density residential properties and commercial areas; apartment buildings are not permitted. Beehives need to be located in a fenced yard at the rear of the property, situated three meters away from the home and not facing a neighbouring property.
  • Can anyone house a bee colony on their residential or commercial property? During the pilot project stages, phase two will be open to 20 residential and 10 non-residential properties and participants. If you’re interested in participating in the UBPP, applications need to be submitted by no later than February 8, 2019. Included in the application package is also a neighbour consent form; permission needs to be obtained from residents living on neighbouring properties. For more information surrounding the Urban Beekeeping Pilot Project, visit the City of Airdrie website. If you’re interested in keeping your very own bees, find the UBPP application forms here.

So why “bee” part of this project? Not only is the UBPP intended to promote sustainability through agricultural pollination and assist in the protection of the Alberta bee population, but it also aids the City of Airdrie in its ‘Bee City Designation Application.’ Currently, Chestermere is Alberta’s only bee city, which means the city is committed to creating, maintaining and/or improving pollinator habitats, while also educating the community about the importance of pollinators. Let’s help Airdrie bee-come bee-friendly!