On Monday, April 5th at 6 p.m., the City will be hosting a public meeting via Zoom to discuss updating the honeybee ordinance in Lee’s Summit. All bee advocates are encouraged to attend.

To register for the meeting, please email Rodney.Wagner@cityofls.net. Lee’s Summit is one of the very few cities left in the KC Metro area not up to date with this important & beneficial initiative.

As the ordinance is stated currently,

“It shall be unlawful to keep or harbor any bees in the City except in agricultural areas and four hundred (400) feet from inhabitants other than the owners thereof. Any beehive used or occupied by bees in violation of this section is hereby declared to be a nuisance. It shall be unlawful to keep or maintain any hive in the City except in areas four hundred (400) feet from inhabitants other than the owners thereof.”

Let’s unpack a bit as to why honeybees are NOT a nuisance, address some common concerns around bees, honey facts and the importance of urban beekeeping.

Common concerns include:

Bee’s sting!

Unless you are disturbing a hive, practically the only way you can get stung is by stepping on a bee with bare feet. The female honeybee can only sting once and then she dies. Therefore, they try to avoid this at all costs.

Bees are defensive to protect their home, babies known as brood and their golden goodness.

The fact that bees can fly up to 5 miles to visit flowers, a possible bee sting can happen wherever beehives are physically within the city.

But I am allergic to bees

People allergic to bee’s (around 2% of the population), as with any serious allergy, carry an EpiPen and/or get allergy shots.

Most “bee stings” are not from bees at all. They are wasp stings. They are easily & commonly confused. Wasps are far more aggressive and can sting again and again with impunity.

If you have concerns if your neighbor is a beekeeper, don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Beekeepers are passionate about bees, their hobby & happy to share their knowledge.

Also bear in mind, bee stings can happen even when there are no managed hives in the neighborhood since bees live in trees all around us.

Bees Swarm

Bees swarm when they have outgrown wherever they are living. When the bees are finally, out and about from a long winter, the queen starts laying up to 2000 eggs a day. It can get a little crowded.

Bees, whether they are native or in an apiary (managed beehives kept by a beekeeper), swarming is a natural instinct. If you ever encounter bees in a cluster in an odd spot, don’t be alarmed. They are likely taking a break while the scout bees are off looking for a safe place to live. They have nothing to protect, so they are very docile. There are several local beekeepers you can contact who would be happy to help take them to a new home.

Bees kept by beekeepers, can usually intervene to prevent swarming from happening at all. This is done with regular monitoring & proper maintenance.

Some things to note about bees and your possible beekeeper neighbors

Beekeepers Don’t Want to Stress Their Neighbors

Communication & education around benefits of urban beekeeping and the dangers of pesticides used in yards is key. If neighbors have concerns about bees, listen to them. More than likely, they just don’t know a whole lot about the fascinating & remarkable lifecycle of bees.

Water is essential for bees like it is for us. With proper guidelines in place under a bee ordinance, this will ensure adequate water sources are always available for the bees.

Give your neighbors complimentary honey for doing their part helping your bees succeed by growing gardens, planting flowers and not using harmful pesticides.

Even the best arguments against keeping bees in urban areas can be mediated with the right rules and the function of government is to find that middle ground where beekeepers can keep a few hives safely on their property and the rights of everyone else are also protected.

Honey Facts

Did you know consuming local raw honey within a 50-mile radius of where you live can help alleviate allergy symptoms?

When kept in the right conditions, raw honey never spoils. It can crystalize but can be brought back to its original state in a warm water bath.

Raw honey has antibacterial properties. It has been long used for medicinal purposes for a variety of ills, including cuts, burns, infections, stomach ulcers and more.

It’s the only known food which has all the ingredients to keep you alive.

Raw honey has antioxidant levels like that of apples, spinach, strawberries and oranges.

It’s is a natural soother. Honey is a popular natural remedy for soothing sore throats, quieting coughs and some believe it works better than over the counter medication. Honey is also used for many home remedies and personal care products.

Benefits of Urban Beekeeping

The bee population is declining. Although not very clear as to why, some experts lean towards a combination of pests & viruses. This is where urban beekeepers can make a difference in increasing the bee population. Investing & nurturing beehives in an urban setting will not only improve cities economically, but also has a positive impact to the bees. Bees thrive in urban environments living longer than rural bees. They produce healthier and more productive bees. Urban bees have access to greater biodiversity, resulting in a more varied diet and stronger immune systems. Think of flowers when taking a walk in your neighborhood, budding trees & backyard gardening. Bees are helping make all of this happen. Urban environments require pollinating just as much as suburban and rural counterparts. More and more amateur beekeepers who have taken up beekeeping as a hobby are helping to keep the bee numbers stable across the country. While this hobby is not for everyone as it’s quite an investment to start and to maintain, anyone can help our Missouri state insect thrive as well as many other beneficial pollinators. Plant pollinator friendly plants, go chemical-free in your yard, provide habitats and support your local beekeepers by buying local raw honey and beeswax products.

Hollie Couch is a Lee's Summit resident and urban beekeeper. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, contact Nick Parker at nick@link2leessummit.com, or through social media on Facebook at Link 2 Lee's Summit or on Twitter, @lstownhall.

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