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updated: 8/6/2013 6:30 PM

West Dundee to let expert weigh in on honeybees

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  • West Dundee leaders will talk to an expert about the merits of its draft proposal to allow homeowners to raise honeybees in their backyard.

      West Dundee leaders will talk to an expert about the merits of its draft proposal to allow homeowners to raise honeybees in their backyard.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer


Honeybees could be coming to a West Dundee backyard near you, but before that happens, the village board decided Monday to first consult an expert.

The expert would appear at a board meeting in September to answer questions about honeybees' habits and to offer feedback on the village's draft ordinance that would regulate them.

The village's animal control ordinance prohibits people from keeping honeybees.

Trustee Tom Price suggested changing the ordinance in June after two residents told him they were interested in backyard beekeeping. Doing so would help sustainability efforts, increase plant pollination in the village and help solve the statewide honeybee shortage.

"The agricultural movement is really taking off in a lot of areas, people bringing food closer to home, that sort of thing," Price said. "Beekeeping is becoming very popular as well."

Village officials have spent the time since June researching how other communities regulate honeybees.

Carpentersville lifted its ban on honeybees in May, but nobody has come forward to install hives, Assistant Village Manager Joe Wade said.

"The village approval might have been a little late for this season," Wade said.

West Dundee's draft ordinance limits the number of hives to four, restricts them to backyards, and requires a constant water source, a 10-foot setback from the property line and a flyway barrier. It also says people who want to keep bees must apply for a license with the village and register with the Illinois Agricultural Department.

Officials might add another provision that requires fencing or some other barrier around the hives.

"We did not want to overregulate, we didn't want to underregulate," Community Development Director Cathleen Tymoszenko said. "We thought that we found a good sweet spot with regulatory management."

Trustee Patrick Hanley is concerned kids living near the hives would tinker with them and end up with disastrous results.

Hanley said he'd feel more comfortable if neighbors, especially ones allergic to bees, had the ability to "say yay or nay" to the honeybees.

"The problem is once you kill a bee after it's stung you, it releases pheromones that triggers the hive to all attack you," Hanley said. "So it isn't that bees are so innocent. They have that gang-up mentality and they release it when they're in danger."

In 2010 West Dundee changed its law to allow people to raise up to four hens in their backyards. Five such licenses have since been issued, Tymoszenko said.

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