Honeybees could be buzzing in Carpentersville if the village board legalizes beekeeping for people who'd like to do it as a hobby in their own backyards.
This week the board discussed the issue then directed the planning and zoning commission to hammer out potential new legislation. The board would vote on it at a later date, probably within a month, Village President Ed Ritter said.
Although their venom is only fatal to a small number of people, the village still considers honeybees to be poisonous insects, and it's illegal to keep them in the village.
About two weeks ago a resident asked whether he could keep bees in his backyard as a hobby.
The village denied the man's request but prompted trustees to take another look at its existing ban.
There are 228 different species of bees in Illinois, according to Valerie Blaine, director of nature programs for the Kane County Forest Preserve District.
But the number of honeybees native to Illinois is dwindling, due to the use of pesticides and also because some of the plants they depend on for survival are on the decline, Blaine said.
"Our native bees are in real trouble populationwise," Blaine said.
There are differences between honeybees and yellow jackets, which are sometimes mistaken for honeybees, Blaine said.
When it comes to stinging, honeybees can only sting you once because their stinger remains in the person they attacked, Blaine said.
The same is not true for yellow jackets and other wasps, which retain their stingers, she said.
Yellow jackets are the insects you'll see flying around picnic tables and soda cans, not honeybees, Blaine said.
Because everyone has a different reaction to getting stung, it's hard to say which insect's venom is more dangerous.
Ritter said honeybees would be good for Carpentersville because they would pollinate some of the plants in the village and would also likely multiply, which would help solve the statewide shortage of honeybees.
"We need to encourage any kind of beekeeping because the state of our agriculture is such that bees are endangered," Ritter said. "(A honeybee shortage) would be difficult for all agriculture and that includes people who raise fruits and vegetables at home. It's also good to encourage people who have hobbies and vocations that could turn into a part-time job. People have to earn a dollar any way they can."