Edina loves its Hornets. We’ll soon see how it feels about bees.
In the interest of becoming a greener city, Edina is considering lifting its ban on keeping bees and chickens in city neighborhoods. In doing so, the city would join more than a dozen other Hennepin County cities that allow residents to keep bees, chickens or both.
“We’re losing our bees, and it’s going to affect our agriculture, our crops and our flowers,” said Joel Stegner, an Edina resident and community gardener who supports backyard beekeeping and chicken-keeping. “If we lose our bees, we lose all that.”
The Edina Planning Commission next month will consider a proposed ordinance allowing residents to keep as many as four hens and two to 12 honeybee colonies, depending on the size of the lot.
Why chickens? Because they help the bees, said Dianne Plunkett Latham, chair of the Local Food Working Group of the Edina Energy & Environment Commission.
“What’s hurting the pollinators is overuse of pesticides,” she said, “and that’s where the chickens come in. They eat Japanese beetles and slugs and all sorts of things you don’t want in your garden. They’re a great method of integrated pest management.
“And they actually make good pets. They follow you around the yard like a dog or a cat, and they sit on your lap.”
Edina is among the 73 members of GreenStep Cities, a statewide group formed to encourage improvements in land use, energy use, waste disposal and other conservation issues. The GreenStep program encourages both beekeeping and chicken-keeping.
At least a dozen cities in Hennepin County allow residents to keep bees, chickens or both. Five cities currently allow both bees and chickens: Bloomington, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Robbinsdale and St. Louis Park.
Eden Prairie began allowing bees earlier this year. So far, 12 residents are actively keeping bees, said Jim Schedin, the city’s zoning administrator.
“And I haven’t heard boo,” he said. “No comments, no questions, no concerns — nothing.” Schedin said he’s personally inspected every colony, with no protective gear, and he hasn’t been stung.
“I probably stood next to a million bees,” he said. “I stood probably three to five feet away from them. And no problems.”
The Planning Commission will consider the Edina bee and chicken ordinance at two November meetings. The first, on Nov. 12, will be informational for commission members. At the second, scheduled for Nov. 26, the commission will hear public comment. If the commission approves the proposal, it will go to the City Council for a vote and could take effect early next year.
Edina residents worried about critters can take heart, though: The proposed ordinance still bans venomous snakes.