More bees, please

By Chris Thomson | posted on September 6, 2018

CITY officials have recommended councillors overturn a ban on beekeeping in the suburbs of Albany after a Gledhow apiarist secured more than 890 signatures from customers of cafes and food stores to challenge it.

Albany’s Animals Local Law prohibits beekeeping in town sites and residential areas outright, and in special rural areas without city approval.

Late last year, after a petition was circulated by beekeeper Kiri Lewis, a City spokesperson said the local law would be reviewed and lifting the ban could be considered if supported by elected officials (‘Buzz over beekeeping ban’, 30 November, 2017).

Now, true to the spokesperson’s word, City governance and risk manager Stuart Jamieson has recommended that a new provision to allow the keeping of bees be incorporated into the by-law.

Mr Jamieson’s recommendation will be considered by a City committee on September 11 ahead of a vote by a future meeting of the full council.

When The Weekender told Ms Lewis of the recommendation, she said it was “lovely to hear” the petitioners had been listened to.

“There’s a lot of little voices on that petition,” she said.

“There’ll be 900 happy people!”

Visiting Albany this week, Greens (WA) MLC Diane Evers said she was “really pleased” that beekeeping was now on the City’s agenda.

“It’s fantastic!” Ms Evers enthused.

“People love bees.

“I think it’s an appreciation for what bees do.”

She said she did not want to underplay the serious issue of people who suffer severe reactions to stings.

“But we do need bees, and if people are prepared to look after their hives properly, then why not?” she posed.

“I think it’s becoming an emotional issue with a lot of people that we must have bees – and we love honey.”

Ms Lewis circulated the petition at several of Albany’s signature businesses, including Solomon Merchants, The Health Nut, Paperbark Merchants, Mount Melville Fresh Organics, Goodlife, AVEG, Great Southern Stockfeeds and McKails General Store.

Among the petition’s signatories are author Dianne Wolfer and former parliamentarian Matt Benson-Lidholm.

On the petition, Anita Parry of McKail says: ‘Long live the bees!”, Merv Pegler of Yakamia requests: “More bees, please”, while Rhys Dowsell of Orana urges local policy-makers to “bee-have!”

Shontay Rebbeck, formerly of Lange, signed the petition twice.

Image: Kiri Lewis, Ellah-Rae Warne and Daniel Warne at their Gledhow property. Photo: Chris Thomson