Urban agriculture has been getting a lot of attention in Edmonton since the 2012 approval of the fresh Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy; which advocates for urban beekeeping and hen-raising. Beekeeping is currently illegal within Edmonton city limits and some groups worry that the bylaw creates more issues by forcing beekeepers underground and making them hesitant to seek advice and share information with the community.
This summer the City of Edmonton has taken an important step forward by allowing the first pilot location for urban beekeeping and is in the process of reviewing a second.
Shovel & Fork, an Edmonton-based food-skills company, has added urban beekeeping to its backyard farming programs; which include butchery, raising hens and vegetable gardening. Their teaching hives have been approved for installation at Northlands, a park just within the eastern edge of the Edmonton city limits, and Patty Milligan of Lola Canola Honey has been recruited to be their expert instructor.
A second group of new beekeepers has recently submitted a formal application for an urban beekeeping pilot program. Yegbees, a small group of new beekeepers, brought in an experienced beekeeper and some interested neighbours to help with the proposal. The pilot hives would be located in a backyard of a residential area with sign-off from all of the neighbours. The focus of the pilot would be on capacity building and demonstrating that beekeeping is not only safe and manageable in an urban environment it can thrive while offering opportunities for ecosystem awareness and education.
Yegbees currently has two hives located outside city limits where they plan to host field days to raise awareness about urban beekeeping and provide an opportunity for people to gain hands-on experience. They are looking forward to a chance to work with the City on the pilot project and hope that it can help create informed bylaws that support legal and responsible beekeeping in the City of Edmonton.