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Davis Journal

The buzz on local beekeeping

Aug 31, 2023 02:56PM ● By Cindi Mansell

Recently, the City Council was briefed about a request to allow beekeeping in the city. Kaysville Planning Commissioner Steve Lyon is a beekeeping hobbyist and submitted a text amendment application requesting the city adopt an ordinance to allow beekeeping in residential zones if certain standards are maintained.

Lyon, no stranger to economic development and planning, has worked in various counties and municipalities. He was appointed to the Planning Commission circa 2018 and is on his second term. He and his family have resided in Kaysville since 2010, and have moved twice, but always remained within the city. 

When Lyon first began beekeeping about three years ago, he began with two hives (he now has three but did lose one due to last year’s harsh winter). He enrolled in a three-year Master Beekeeping Course through the University of Montana; having completed his first year, he is now a certified Apprentice. Part of the course provided information on looking at local ordinances to ensure beekeeping is allowed, in what areas, and various related standards. Noting that Kaysville did not have an ordinance, he then reviewed local entity ordinances (Layton, Bountiful, Salt Lake) and worked with planning staff to come up with one for Kaysville consideration.

City Zoning Administrator, Dan Jessop, reviewed the information submitted by the applicant and conducted some independent research. Through this process, he validated that the standards proposed by the applicant are acceptable for healthy hives and bees. Both staff and applicant analysis found that urban beehives (also known as apiaries) encourage domestic pollination and are conducive to urban farming.

Beekeepers must be registered and licensed with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. There are standards for size (placement must be 5’ from property lines) and numbers of colonies, allowing for “not” over-populating so they can thrive. The ordinance also prescribes for hive construction with proper features to ensure healthy bees as well as provide for proper equipment and conduct to promote happy healthy colonies without creating a nuisance. 

Lyon said, “part of his motivation for pursuing beekeeping is to maintain the agricultural heritage that Kaysville has historically offered.” He said bees go straight up from the hive and fly within a ½ mile, pollinating as they go and returning to the hive. When asked how bees know where to return, Lyon said bees have instinct; once they know where the hive is they return (always keyed into the queen bee herself). Last year, Lyon was able to produce 50 pounds of honey harvest and is very proud of his hobby “being able to play with fire, bees, chemicals, insects, science and biology to produce a viable product and retain ancestral farming behavior.” 

Various local establishments offer classes, and beekeeping popularity is on the rise. The Utah Beekeepers’ Association was organized in 1892 and aims to keep beekeepers in the State of Utah informed about what is happening in the industry; and to promote beekeeping and honey production for all commercial, sideliner, and hobbyist beekeepers. Bees are essential for the health of people and the planet. Honey and other products have medicinal properties, and the role of bees as pollinators makes them vital for food supplies. Lyon said, “basically, without pollination, you won’t have farming.”

The City Council approved the Ordinance with the condition that those residents keeping bees may not request a no-spray zone to the Mosquito Abatement District. This condition was added to remedy concern about requesting no-spray zones causing problems with mosquitos in those areas.