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updated: 9/12/2013 8:42 AM

West Dundee learns more about honeybees

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  • West Dundee officials will vote on a honeybee ordinance in October. If approved, residents would be allowed to raise honeybees in their backyards.

      West Dundee officials will vote on a honeybee ordinance in October. If approved, residents would be allowed to raise honeybees in their backyards.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer


West Dundee officials invited a honeybee expert to explain and dispel myths about the insects this week, but it wasn't enough to two convince trustees the village should become honeybee friendly.

Trustees Daniel Wilbrandt and Michelle Kembitzky said they cannot support a proposal to legalize honeybee keeping. While Kembitzky fears the ramifications of children and neighbors messing with the hives, especially if they're allergic to honeybees, Wilbrandt says the proposal would introduce too many bees -- as many as 200,000 -- to the village.

"This is something that I would not vote for today," Wilbrandt said.

The village's animal control ordinance currently bars people from raising honeybees, and Trustee Tom Price suggested changing the law in June. This came after two residents told him they wanted to keep honeybees in their backyards. Doing so would help sustainability efforts, increase plant pollination in the village and help solve the national honeybee shortage.

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.

Village staff wrote the draft legislation, but wanted to run it by an expert and make the expert available to answer questions from trustees, Community Development Director Cathleen Tymoszenko said. The board is expected to vote on the proposal next month.

Monday night, Larry Krengel, a member of the Northern Illinois Beekeepers Association answered questions about honeybees. He also runs the Hawk Hill Bee Farm in Marengo and teaches bee keeping courses at Elgin Community College and McHenry County College.

Honeybees, he said, are here to stay.

"Whether you want them in your city or not, you're going to have them in your city," Krengel said. "They've been living here all along."

Krengel had no issues with the draft legislation and found himself defending honeybees.

When it comes to the honeybees themselves, they aren't aggressive, but will sting if provoked, he said. The odds of being stung by a honeybee more than 10 feet away from the colony are extremely remote. And they're nowhere near as mean as yellow jackets, a wasp often mistaken for a honeybee.

"Those are a completely different animal from the honeybee," Krengel said. "I mean, it's like comparing a tiger with your house cat."

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