Backyard Beekeeping


Beekeeping can be an exhilarating, satisfying activity that teaches you a great deal about honey bees, one of nature’s wonders. The following information will ensure best practice management for the safety of the beekeepers, their families, neighbours and the bees and their hive.

Definitions:

Nucleus (Nuc)  – a smaller hive in which larger bee colonies can expand into. The nucleus provides options for good animal husbandry and hive management to prevent swarming.  

Honey super – a honey super consists of a box in which eight to 10 frames are hung. Honey bees collect nectar and store the processed nectar in honeycomb, which they build on the frames.


General requirements

  • Applicants must live in a single family home with a fenced backyard.
  • Each participant’s bee site is limited to one beehive.
  • Each site must also keep a nucleus (nuc) hive, in order to prevent swarming. As licence holders may only have one bee colony on their property at a time, if a second colony forms within the nuc they must notify the Environmental Inspector and work with a bee keeping community to have them relocated as soon as seasonably possible.
  • The beehive and nuc must be within your fenced back yard and must be placed at least three metres (m) away from all adjacent property lines unless neighbouring properties are separated by a solid fence or hedge at least two m high.
  • The beehive and nuc must be a minimum of three m from public rights-of-way (lanes, pedestrian pathways, sidewalks, etc.) or private roads.
  • Your backyard bee site must be located at least 25 m away from public places including schools, playgrounds, sports fields and hospitals.

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The application process

All individuals interested in participating in the Backyard Beekeeping Pilot Program must submit a completed application and submit the following documents with the completed application:

After the application has been submitted:

  1. The Environmental Inspector will review the application package and will contact the applicant regarding any missing information or concerns. The applicant is responsible for resolving the issues, then updating the application.
  2. The Environmental Inspector will follow up with the applicant’s neighbours to garner approval subject to any question or concerns they may have, and provide more information as needed. If a neighbour brings forward an issue that cannot be resolved, the application may be rejected at the discretion of the Environmental Inspector. Note if an adjacent neighbour identifies a medical concern such as a bee allergy the application will be rejected.
  3. Next the application will be sent to the city’s Planning and Development Department and Enforcement Services for review. The applicant must resolve any additional comments or concerns arising from this review and updates to the application may be required.
  4. After the applicant has addressed all comments and concerns from city departments, the Environmental Inspector will provide a conditional approval.
  5. With the conditional approval the applicant can build the beehive and nuc. When complete, the applicant will schedule an inspection with the Environmental Inspector.
  6. After the applicant has passed the inspection, the Environmental Inspector will grant the applicant a beekeeping licence.  The licence holder may now keep bees on the property in accordance with the Beekeeping Guidelines.

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Building your beehive and nuc

Once your application has received initial approval, you may set up your beehive and nuc in accordance with the submitted site plan and the Backyard Beekeeping Guidelines. It is strongly recommended that applicants complete the required Bee keeping course prior to starting construction.

  • The beehive and nuc must have a bottom board and a hive top cover.
  • The beehive must be situated to allow bees a direct flightpath to the beehive and nuc while controlling the potential for bees to become a nuisance to neighbours.
  • The bee flightpath must be higher than two m. This may be done by placing a fence or hedge in front of the hive entrance to encourage bees to fly upward as soon as they exit the hive.
  • Direct the hive entrance away from adjacent properties, unless doing so will result in poor sun or excessive wind exposure, which would compromise the healthy function of the beehive and nuc.
  • The beehive and nuc may consist of a total of up to six supers recommended to be set up as four for the beehive and two for the nuc.
  • Beehive and nuc dimensions chart (pdf)

Bee_schematic5_Final_Jan.jpg

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Inspection and enforcement

  • After the beehive and nuc have been built, the Environmental Inspector will inspect the work to confirm the structures have been built to the outlined criteria. Additional inspections may be conducted if a complaint is made.
  • Pilot program participants must be present for inspections of the yard site and/or beehive and nuc upon reasonable request by the Environmental Inspector.
  • All complaints will be directed to the Environmental Inspector.

Failure to comply with the guidelines at any time will result in the participant’s licence being revoked. Individuals continuing to keep bees without a licence will be subject to further enforcement action by City of Leduc Enforcement Services under the Animal Licencing and Control Bylaw 1019-2019 for keeping a prohibited animal. Participant licences may become void or be revoked in the following circumstances: 

  • A licence becomes void when any information such as the Applicant information or Site Information changes, as per the the Backyard Beekeeping Pilot Project Licence Application. In this case, a new application process must be initiated.
  • A licence will be revoked if neighbours with adjacent backyards identify a medical concern such as a bee allergy.
  • Should the Environmental Inspector find a backyard site, beehive or licence holder to be non-compliant with the guidelines at any time, the Environmental Inspector has the authority to revoke the beekeeping licence. A 14-day written notice will be provided within which time bees, the beehive and nuc must be removed from the property. The timeframe for removal may be extended at the discretion of the Environmental Inspector. All costs and associated expenditures related to the removal of beekeeping structures are the responsibility of the participant. The beekeeper will work with the Environmental Inspector to relocate the bees to a location outside city boundaries and dismantle the associated hive and nuc.
  • The city has the authority to cancel the Backyard Beekeeping Pilot Program with 14 days’ written notice within which time bees, the beehive and nuc must be removed from the property. The timeframe for removal may be extended at the Environmental Inspector’s discretion. All costs and associated expenditures related to the removal are the responsibility of the participant. The beekeeper will work with the Environmental Inspector to relocate the bees to a location outside city boundaries and dismantle the associated hive and nuc.

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Beehive care and safety

  • Beekeepers must engage in good management and husbandry practices to prevent aggressive behaviour and disease.
  • All bees must be obtained from reliable sources. Aggressive bees must be returned safely to a bee distributer and replaced.
  • Beekeepers must provide a constant source of water for the bees from before spring snowmelt until late fall to deter the bees from seeking water from alternate sources such as neighbouring pools, hot tubs, bird baths or dog dishes.
  • The Environmental Inspector must be notified of any unusual bee behaviours such as swarming, signs of disease or any unusual situation.
  • Beekeepers must carry liability insurance (valued at not less than $2,000,000 Canadian dollars) to cover accidents related to their bees and beekeeping activities. Insurance may be obtained through the Edmonton& District Beekeepers Association or by speaking to a reputable insurance provider.
  • The area around the beehive and nuc must be kept free of hive scrapings or other debris to minimize the likelihood of attracting other bees, wasps or other unwanted visitors.
  • Beekeepers must make arrangements and designate someone to monitor the beehive and nuc if they will be away for more than one week. It is recommended that a designated person visit and monitor the beehive, nuc and property at least once a week.

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