West Dundee has officially become a haven for homegrown honeybees.
Last week, the village board voted 4-3 to remove its ban on honeybees, which allows residents to raise them in their backyards, with restrictions.
For example, anyone who wants to be a beekeeper must:
• Secure an annual $10 license from West Dundee and register the hives with the Illinois Agriculture Department. West Dundee Village President Chris Nelson hasn't heard about anyone applying for this license just yet.
• Maintain up to four hives or honeybee colonies on the premises. If the property is less than 10,000 square feet, there can only be two primary hives and two honeybee colonies.
• Post a small sign on the property alerting others to the presence of bees.
• Keep convenient sources of water on site to keep the bees from leaving the property in search of water.
• Set the hives back 10 feet from the property line and place them on rooftops of the main structure or deck area, or in the unimproved area of the rear yard. A flyaway barrier that's a minimum of 5 feet tall must accompany hives within 20 feet of a property line.
The village's animal control ordinance previously barred people from raising honeybees, and Trustee Tom Price suggested changing the law in June. That came after two residents told him they wanted to keep honeybees in their backyards. Lifting the ban would help sustainability efforts, increase plant pollination in the village and help solve the national honeybee shortage, the residents said.
"Any situation that encourages their vitality and sustenance is probably a positive thing for the environment," said Nelson, who cast the deciding vote that broke the tie.
Nelson, along with trustees Andy Yuscka, Michelle Kembitzky and Price endorsed the measure.
Trustees Patrick Hanley, David Pflanz and Daniel Wilbrandt voted against the switch.
For Wilbrandt, the issue was the number of bees that would be released into the community. A single hive can hold up to 50,000 bees, according to the expert the village consulted when it wrote the draft ordinance.
"I understand it takes a lot of bees to make honey, but I just felt that's putting a lot of bees in a small area and that unlike chickens (which the village allows), the bees leave the backyard and pollinate," Wilbrandt said. "The natural instinct for a lot of men and women and children is to swat at a bee. Sometimes if people have allergies,it only takes one sting."