Alexis Kienlen: The birds and the bees
“It’s strange that we continue to vilify an insect that is so important to us. The negative attitude against bees can be seen when people start discussing urban beekeeping. Many cities, including the city of Edmonton, have not legalized urban beekeeping. This is a pretty sad, since urban bees add to food security and biodiversity within a city. People who argue against urban beekeeping say that it is a danger to people, because of the risk of death from bee stings. In fact, the proportion of people who are allergic to bee stings is quite small. Only about .4 per cent of the American population is allergic to bee stings. According to Statistics Canada, 22 people died from bee stings in Canada between 2000 and 2006. More people die each year from falling down stairs. Most bees will only sting if they are endangered, and most of the time, people are stung by wasps.
The lack of knowledge about bees and the role they play in pollination has hindered the urban beekeeping movement. I know a man who kept a hive of bees in his yard even though it wasn’t legal in Edmonton. He contacted his neighbours and told them he would be keeping a hive on his property. His neighbours told him they were fine with this. Then one day, an animal services officer showed up at his place and told him there had been a complaint. One of his neighbours had found out keeping bees in Edmonton was illegal, and she had reported him. The beekeeper had to remove his bees from the city or risk a $500 a day fine. He later found out which neighbour had reported him and asked her if his bees had been bothering her. She told him, with complete seriousness, “Well, they were all over my garden and were buzzing around my flowers.”
I wish people would realize the importance of the bee’s work, and work to preserve these fascinating creatures. People often talk about endangered tigers, polar bears or sharks, yet they don’t seem to think about what they can do to preserve the honeybee, a creature that has a more direct impact on the average human life than a tiger or a polar bear.
In my perfect world, urban beekeeping would be legal in all cities. Beekeeping would be as common as gardening and people would relax in their yards, drink a cup of tea sweetened with a spoonful of honey, and sit and watch their bees.”