Meeting Minutes – July 9, 2014
Club Business – keeping honey bees within city limits.
Background: The issue began when a neighbor of John & Christine McDowell complained about honey bees being a problem for his children with honey bees covering the kids’ toys, sandbox and swimming pool. The city warned John that he could not keep bees within the city limits. Bees are only allowed on areas zoned agriculture. There are areas that are zoned low-density residential that can grow ‘agriculture crops’ meant for gardening but not beekeeping. The McDowells asked the city to revise its definition of “crop” to include honey production.
The city committee voted on Wednesday, July 3 to reject (3-2) the request to modify the zoning code and allow beekeeping.
Tom rallied the Wannabee Club beekeepers to contact the city council and to attend the meeting Monday night where more than a dozen beekeepers each had 3 minutes to make their case to the council. At that meeting, Steve Laurenti and Chad Lewis changed their vote. Lewis stated that he had been inundated by calls from his constituents in Ward 3 with overwhelming support for the bees.
The council voted Monday to have the City Attorney work on an ordinance that may allow honeybees within the city limits.
Assistant City Attorney Allison Marsland attended our Wannabee Club meeting to observe and answer questions. She stated that it will take 4-6 weeks to research and draft a new ordinance and, per law (as it would amend Zoning Title 17.10.20), it must be presented for 2 readings in front of the Zoning and the Planning commissions. They are hoping to have an ordinance completed in 6 weeks.
Their office will inform Tom Allen and John McDowell when the public hearings regarding this and the reading of the ordinance will take place. These are public meetings so anyone can attend and voice their opinion either FOR or AGAINST the keeping of honey bees within city limits.
Patty Pate made a motion to form a committee of the following members to work on providing input and recommendations to the city council for the new ordinance:
- President Tom Allen
- Vice President (and previous President) Bill Clements
- Past President of Founder Jerry Owens
- John McDowell
The motion was seconded.
Two members mentioned that, even if you do not live in Rapid City, this issue is very important for whatever town/city you do live in. What Rapid City decides will have an effect on what other towns/cities do in the future. We want Rapid City to be on the leading edge of this decision and to support honey bees.
Please contact one of the above committee members with your ideas.
- Discussion of water sources for bees – they MUST have a water source. One member has a running fountain, filled with rocks, setup near her colonies. Another uses a pan with gravel (to keep bees from drowning); others use swimming pools. Tom uses a chicken drinker (can be purchased from Runnings or Tractor Supply) with pieces of sponge in the water to keep bees from drowning.
- One member had a sled birdhouse that bumblebees have moved into and she discussed the fascination of watching them maneuver in and out. Jerry & Tom added to the discussion of bumblebees. Last week, Jerry had a woman call with a bumblebee nest in some folding chairs in her garage. Tom reminded everyone that bumblebees LOVE bee balm plants.
- One member had thought that spraying by Warne Chemical had caused his bees to die. He contacted Ken at Warne Chemical (and also the Minnesota University) and found that the chemicals that Warne uses do NOT harm honey bees. His only other thought is that the neighbors had perhaps sprayed with something that did harm them.
- Tom Allen mentioned the next Ohio State University Bee Lab webinars
July 16 – Chemistry of Honey
August 20 – Bee Foraging in Rural Areas During Corn Planting
September 17 – Winter Preperation
The webinars start at 7:00 AM but are also archived so you can always watch them anytime. http://u.osu.edu/beelab/courses/
- Discussion on GMO corn
- Bob passed around a sample of a Basswood (or Linden) tree that the bees love and he said it makes great honey. He also brought some bags of yellow clover seeds for anyone to take if they wanted (since we seem to be inundated with yellow clover in the hills this year).
- Tom Allen brought in 3 ‘Proud to be a Beekeeper’ magnets that he was willing to sale at cost of $8.00 each
How are the bees doing?
Tom asked the members to discuss the status of their bees. Here is a (hopefully accurate) summary by area:
- East of Piedmont in Elk Creek area – started with 2 colonies (slow) and caught 2 swarms this spring so now has 4 colonies
o Tom Allen and Jerry Owens discussed catching 2 swarms (one in June and Jerry caught another last week) in the area 3 miles east and 1 mile north of Elk Vale road. One was the mega-swarm discussed in the previous meeting.
- 1 mile across Meade County line – 2 colonies with 1 colony having 2 supers and soon will add a 3rd
- Lead – colonies are just starting to do well – catching up from the cold wet spring
- Johnson Siding – 2 new colonies doing OK
- Hot Springs – 2 colonies; queen went bad in one colony and had to be replaced; caught 2 swarms this spring
- Edgemont – 4 colonies; 1 with a Minnesota hygienic queen not doing well
- Rapid Valley – started with 2 colonies and caught 2 swarms (didn’t find queen in last swarm). It took about 3 weeks to start seeing brood in the 1st swarm.
- North of Whitewood – 2 new colonies with 1 doing well and the other not doing so well. Started new colony with a swarm and it’s doing very well.
- Belle Fourche – 2 colonies; lost a queen and had a laying worker. The Italian colony is slow and the Russian colony is doing great
- South of Rapid City – 1 new colony; added a super on July 4
- Sturgis – 3 colonies; 2 Italians have supers and the Minnesota hygienic is slower. Jerry helped obtain a swarm for her as well.
- Robbinsdale – colonies are thriving on neglect and has added second supers
- Custer – between 2 members, 3 colonies; 2 with 2 supers and 1 with 1 super
- Johnson Siding – started with 1 colony that died; replaced with a swarm and purchased a new colony this spring – then caught another swarm so now had 3 colonies
- NW of Black Hawk – new colony in May is doing well and they are following the “Beekeeping for Dummies” book.
- West of town – 6 colonies; varying – some have 1 super and some have 2
Jerry Owens has several colonies. One died. The mega-swarm he caught this spring is doing ‘super’; it already has 4 honey supers. Others vary. Some are doing very well and others are slow. Jerry has a mix of Carniolan, Minnesota Hygienic, and Italians and he has not been able to tell a huge difference between them. Jerry has caught 9 swarms this spring and has had calls on 14 others. He believes the larger swarms of feral bees, that have already overwintered at least once, do much better than the new, smaller swarms.
Tom Allen started with 4 colonies that overwintered and he purchased 2 packages of Carniolans this spring and turned one into an observation hive that has been used all around the area for education. He then caught a swarm and did a split so now has 8 colonies. When splitting the colony, he counted a dozen swarm cells and was able to watch the queens emerge from two of them. He put 2 frames with a queen in a nuc box and will give an update in the next meeting.
Minutes submitted by: Linda Anderson for Michelle Hovland, Secretary
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