Hens and Bees Frequently Asked Questions

If a neighbour living adjacent to you has applied to keep either hens or bees in their fenced back yard they are required to notify you of their application. The City is taking a neighbour friendly approach with the program and during the application review process the City Environmental Inspector will follow up with neighbours to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

The following are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the City of Leduc’s Hen Keeping and Beekeeping Pilot Programs.

Q:    My child is allergic to bee stings. What can I do to prevent my neighbour from keeping bees?

A:    The pilot program puts a high priority on ensuring the health and safety of residents. Any application to keep bees will be automatically denied if a directly adjacent neighbour has a bee allergy; this also includes adjacent neighbours across a back alley-way. As part of the application process the City of Leduc Environmental Inspector will contact the adjacent neighbours of the program applicant to address any questions or concerns. At this time you can communicate your allergy to bee stings. Alternatively, you can call the Environmental Inspector anytime during office hours at 780-980-7107.

Q:    My husband works evenings and wouldn’t be able to get enough sleep with nearby chickens crowing at dawn. What can I do?

A:    Applicants approved for the hen keeping pilot program are allowed to keep hens only. Roosters crow at dawn but are not allowed in the Leduc hen keeping pilot program. Hens can sometimes cluck and cackle, but the level of noise they make is much less than that of a barking dog.

Q:   How safe is a whole hive of bees for children, pets or even adults who live in the neighbourhood?

A:    Honey bees generally don’t spend time near people. They are hard at work collecting nectar and pollen for their colony and they have little interest in your food or drinks, or your backyard activities. Many other municipalities have launched similar, successful beekeeping programs. The City of Leduc has carefully researched the safety aspect of the programs and has developed Beekeeping Guidelines with the lessons learned from other municipalities in mind. The Environmental Inspector will ensure construction of the hives is within guidelines before the participant is allowed to introduce the bees, and applicants are required to take training and work with a mentor to ensure they are aware of and follow all best practices.

Q:   How long is the pilot program and what criteria will the City of Leduc use to evaluate whether the program continues after the pilot is complete?

A:   The pilot project is a two-year program. Detailed evaluation of the results, involving participants, neighbours, the Leduc Environmental Advisory Board (LEAB) and Council will help us to determine next steps. The LEAB has developed a list of criteria to assess the successful pilot project against in the evaluation process including the experiences of the participants, neighbour feedback, health of the hens and bees, program costs, etc.

Q:   I would not be comfortable with more than one bee hive in the neighbourhood. Is it likely there could be more than one approved application per neighbourhood?

A:   The city’s pilot program will approve a maximum of five single-family households in Leduc for the beekeeping program and where possible the City will endeavor to select participants within varying locations of the City to provide a more wholesome amount of information collected from the pilot program.

Q:   Will the households participating in each of these programs produce enough honey or eggs to start their own small home-based business selling honey or eggs?

A:    Pilot program regulations prohibit participants from selling honey or eggs produced through the program. The honey and eggs are for personal consumption only.

Q:    I know coyotes travel around Leduc at night. Are they likely to be attracted to the hens, and therefore become more of an issue in my neighbourhood?

A:     Participants in the hen keeping program are required to build a hen enclosure that prevents hens from escaping and other animals from entering. Hens are to be locked inside an enclosed coop at night which is weather-proof and predator-proof. Similar programs in other neighbouring municipalities report no issues with coyotes. 

Q:   I have dogs and I am worried about them sharing a fenceline with hens, how will this be managed?

A:   Licence holders keeping hens are considered similar to a neighbour having any other kind of pet, and both neighbours are responsible for managing fence line interactions. Henkeepers are required to keep their hens in a locked enclosure at all times. Free-ranging within the licence holder’s backyard is permitted only under direct supervision. In addition, hen enclosures are to be built a minimum of 1.2 m from all adjacent property lines.

Q:   Don’t chickens smell? How do I know this won’t become an issue?

A:   Licence holders keeping hens are required to be responsible pet owners and keep their hen enclosures in good repair and sanitary conditions to prevent nuisance conditions such as attracting pests, the spread of food over the property or excessive smells. Leftover feed and manure must be removed and discarded regularly to prevent nuisance odors. As part of the application process applicants are to develop a plan to manage waste, as well as a task checklist with daily, weekly and monthly activities for the ongoing care and maintenance of their hen enclosure. Should you notice an odor you can notify the Environmental Inspector who will conduct a follow-up inspection; odor issues are enforceable under the Community Standards Bylaw 995-2018.