Naperville limits beehives based on lot size
The buzz at the Naperville City Council meeting Tuesday night was about bees.
The council approved a new ordinance that is designed to encourage residents to keep honeybees for their environmental benefits while setting reasonable limits on how many hives they can tend.
The rule allows beekeepers in Naperville to keep up to three hives on any lot less than a quarter-acre, up to six hives on lots between a quarter-acre and a half-acre, and up to 10 hives on properties larger than a half-acre. The hives must be set back 5 feet from property lines and must not be placed in the front yard. Beekeepers also must register their hives, or colonies, with the state.
"This is one of the best hobbies to have," council member Becky Anderson said about beekeeping, which many hobbyists pursue to produce their own small supplies of honey. "It's so rewarding."
Bees play an important role in pollinating flowers and crops, longtime keepers say. And according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "about one mouthful in three" comes directly or indirectly from honeybee pollination, bringing foods that add "diversity, color and flavor" to the American diet.
The city council voted 7-2 to approve the new beekeeping regulations after hearing from former member Robert Fieseler, who keeps a hive in his backyard. Fieseler encouraged the council to decrease the distance by which hives must be separated from property lines from a proposed 15 feet to 5, and the group obliged.
Naperville's regulation follows similar rules in West Dundee and unincorporated Lake County that set the number of hives allowed based on lot size. In Naperville, the ordinance allows hives to be kept on nearly all types of properties, except for those zoned for multifamily housing because of the small lot sizes and lack of lot separation.
The council reviewed beekeeping rules beginning this summer after a resident complained about the nuisance of seven hives kept in a small neighboring backyard.
Council member Kevin Coyne called the complaint "largely passive" and said he thought the regulation wasn't necessary. He voted against the hive limit along with council member John Krummen.