Do you want to keep bees in Fort St. John? Let's talk about it.
One in every three bites of food we eat depends on pollination by insects such as honeybees. Honeybees play an important role in promoting biodiversity and food security by pollinating plants, and providing useful goods such as honey, bee pollen, royal jelly, and beeswax.
On average, about 60,000 honeybees live in a single hive during summer months, Worker bees play many roles including; cleaning and feeding the queen bee, building and cleaning the cells, collecting nectar and pollen and caring for young bees. There is only one queen in the hive, and her role is to lay eggs.
Being a beekeeper
Using alternatives to pesticides and herbicides, providing water, and growing bee-friendly gardens (including those that incorporate flowers for continual bloom) help to keep bee populations healthy.
Evidence shows good management practices allows urban beekeeping to flourish in a safe and sustainable manner.
Because domesticated honey bees require human management to survive, it is important that standards are met to ensure public safety and bee health. Maintaining bee health is also essential for reducing the transfer of diseases and pathogens to wild bee populations.
City Council is interested in knowing what you think about allowing homeowners to keep bees in the City. Here is an over view of what you should know.
The Province of BC regulates beekeeper licencing, health and care of the bees. This means each beekeeper has to be trained and apply for a license and their hives will be regularly monitored.
A city bylaw can regulate the following:
- Beehive must be located on rear yard of property
- Beekeepers must be licensed by the Province and comply with Bee Regulation 3/2015
- Every person keeping bees must provide adequate water
- All reasonable measures to prevent swarming must be taken
Maximum number of colonies
- Two (2) colonies on lot less than 929 square meters (square feet)
- Four (4) colonies on a lot larger than 929 square meters (10,000 square feet)
*Note: The minimum parcel size for a residential building lot ranges between 373 to 550 sq. meters or roughly 4000 to 6000 sq.
- It is proposed that beekeeping be permitted in all zones within the municipality
Site Specific Requirements
- Behind a solid fence 1.8 meters in height (6 feet)
- Three meters (10 feet) away from neighboring property lines
- If there is no fence hives shall be at least 2.4 meters (8 feet) off the ground
- Hive entrances must be directed away from neighboring property lines unless environmental conditions (wind, poor sun exposure) make this unhealthy for the bees
The Province Regulates beekeeping under the Animal Health Act – Bee Regulation.
A brief over view of the regulations can be found here.
In a nutshell:
- Beekeepers must be licensed by the Province
- All hives must be registered
- Use and transport of beehives and equipment is regulated
- Sale of bees and equipment is regulated
- Monitoring bee health is regulated
Draft City Bylaw
CITY OF FORT ST. JOHN BYLAW NO. 2373, 2017
A Bylaw to Regulate the Keeping of Bees
WHEREAS pursuant to Section 8(3)(k) of the Community Charter a Council may, by bylaw, regulate,
prohibit and impose requirements in relation to animals;
NOW THEREFORE Council of the City of Fort St. John, in open meeting assembled, enacts as follows:
This Bylaw may be cited for all purposes as “City of Fort St. John Beekeeping Bylaw No. 2373, 2017.”
In this Bylaw:
“Apiculture” means the keeping and management of bees;
“Bee” includes the insect Apis Mellifera;
“Beehive” means a box or receptacle with movable frames used for housing a colony of Bees;
“Beekeeper” means a person who owns or controls Bees; and
“Colony” means queen, brood and accompanying Bees.
“Nucleus Hive” means a complete colony with one egg laying queen, worker bees, 3-5 frames with
brood in all stages of development and some reserves of pollen and honey
1. The requirements in this Bylaw are additional to the requirements imposed on Beekeepers
under the British Columbia Bee Regulation B.C. Reg. 3/2015 or other applicable standards
adopted by the Province of British Columbia from time to time.
2. The registered owner of parcel of land on which Bees are kept is deemed to be a Beekeeper
under this Bylaw unless the registered owner advises a bylaw enforcement officer in writing that
the registered owner has granted permission to keep Bees to a tenant or other occupier of the
4. Beehive Management :
A Beekeeper must:
a) take reasonable steps to ensure that the apicultural operation does not pose a safety
risk to persons on adjacent parcels or highways;
b) take reasonable steps to minimize the risk of damage to adjacent buildings and
property caused by Apiculture;
c) provide Bees with access to sufficient and proximate water;
d) re-queen the Colony if the Colony engages in swarming or aggressive behavior;
e) not locate a Beehive within 3 meters of any neighboring property line;
f) either contain a Beehive within an area surrounded by a solid 1.8 meter high fence or
place the Beehive a minimum of 2.4 meters off the ground;
g) direct the Beehive entrances away from neighboring properties unless environmental
conditions such as wind or limited sun exposure make this unhealthy for the Bees; and
h) locate Beehives in the rear yard of the property.
5. Number of Colonies:
No Beekeeper shall keep more than:
a) two (2) Colonies and two (2) nucleus Colonies on a parcel of land with an area less than
1,000 square meters (0.1 hectares); or
b) four (4) Colonies and four (4) nucleus Colonies on a parcel of land having an area
exceeding 1,000 square meters (0.1 hectares)
A public health officer, licence inspector, bylaw enforcement officer, member of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police, or any other municipal employee, or agent, duly authorized by
Council for such purpose, may enter at all reasonable times upon any property in order to
determine whether or not a person is complying with the provisions of this Bylaw.
7. Offence and Penalties:
Any person who contravenes a provision of this Bylaw is liable upon summary conviction to a
maximum fine of $10,000.00 and, if ordered by the court, to pay the City of Fort St. John the
costs of prosecution. Every day during which a contravention continues shall constitute a
If any section, subsection sentence, clause or phrase of this Bylaw is for any reason held to be
invalid by the decision of any court of competent jurisdiction, the invalid portion shall be
severed and the part that is invalid shall not affect the validity of the remainder.