Springfield now allows urban beekeeping

12:00 p.m Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 Politics
The bees fly in and out of Stephen Chirico’s bee hive in his backyard along South Fourntain Avenue. Bill Lackey/Staff

Springfield residents who live on smaller properties can now keep beehives.

City code previously banned them on properties less than three acres. But commissioners unanimously approved an amendment last week that would allow people to have up to two beehives as long as they have a 6-foot barrier wall.

RELATED: Homeowner told to remove honeybees, wants Springfield rule changed

Several people spoke in favor of the amendment, Mayor Warren Copeland said.

“There were no objections raised,” Copeland said.

It was also unanimously approved by the City Planning Board, said Shannon Meadows, Springfield community development director.

City staff members drafted the amendment after a complaint was received about a local beekeeper, Steve Chirico, and he was ordered to remove his beehives from his South Fountain Avenue home. He was given 30 days to remove them but Chirico said the bees could have died if they were moved in the summer heat. He has two bee hives that hold about 60,000 bees each.

MORE: Springfield considers lifting ban on beekeepers in city

He was given an extension by the city until Oct. 31 but city staff wanted to take into account the changing condition of bees, Meadows said.

The beekeeping industry provides about $20 billion in pollinating service to more than 90 different crops, according to literature from the American Beekeeping Federation.

It’s clearly valuable to have bees pollinating plants in the community, Copeland said.

“Honeybees are not dangerous, but it was important for us to set some standards for people who are going to raise bees to do it properly,” he said. “I was pleased with the results.”

The commission regularly hears from residents who would like to perform other urban agriculture activities, such as raising poultry, Copeland said. The commission will continue to examine changing policies over the next few years, he said.

“It’s an idea that’s getting more and more support,” Copeland said.

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