Wanneroo: beekeeper buzzed by proposed new law

Wanneroo: beekeeper buzzed by proposed new law
Wanneroo: beekeeper buzzed by proposed new law

OUT for public comment this month, a proposed Bee Keeping Local Law is “a step in the right direction”, a local beekeeper says.

The City of Wanneroo has invited public submissions on its proposed law until November 8, which replaces a section of the City’s Animals Local Law 1999.

At last month’s council meeting, Ashby resident Alan Langridge said the proposed law was an improvement on the draft advertised for comment earlier this year.

The WA Apiarist Society member said it was a “constructive and supportive approach that allows neighbours to coexist”.

The previous version required beekeepers to get permits from the City, but the current proposal does not.

Instead, it says registered beekeepers may keep bees on any land other than residential-zoned properties without a permit, provided adjoining property occupants are advised before the hives are established.

The proposed conditions also require beekeepers to locate each hive at least 10m from any thoroughfare (including a footpath) or public place and at least 5m from any other boundary of the land, and to ensure the bees do not become a nuisance.

“With respect to land zoned residential, the same applies, except that a person may only keep up to two hives without obtaining a permit,” the City’s website said.

During the previous public comment period, the City received four submissions, and councillors expressed concerns that version was too restrictive at a June forum.

“Administration further investigated the provisions of the proposed draft local law and incorporated the public submissions and elected members’ feedback into an updated version,” the website said.

Mr Langridge said 90 per cent of beekeepers were amateurs and raising bees on rooftops and small gardens was increasingly popular.

“There’s a lot of people that are keeping their hives in an urban environment,” he said.

“I’m not aware of any beehive or bee nuisance complaints; most people can be relied on to do the right thing most of the time.”

Mr Langridge said 65 per cent of food production in Australia was dependent on bees, with farmers paying for hives to come out to their crops.

The engineer said all apiarists had to register with the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, which deemed one or two hives in a garden “acceptable”.

Asked about the risks of disease spreading through increased bee populations, Mr Langridge said putting hives out in the sun for a few weeks allowed bees to regain their strength, in turn improving the diversity of nectar and pollen.

“The biggest risk with more hives is managing perception,” he said.

Mr Langridge said there were strict biosecurity laws about bees in WA, which did not allow people to import used equipment or honey from outside WA.

Visit the City’s website to see the proposed local law.

Send submissions to enquiries@wanneroo.wa.gov.au or post to CEO, City of Wanneroo, Locked Bag 1, Wanneroo WA6946.

WA Apiarist Society junior vice president Gary Templeman said newer members like Butler’s Kay Cotterall (pictured) learnt practical skills of bee keeping on apiary sites.

“Kay is learning everything she needs to know about setting up, building and safely running an apiary to produce honey for friends and family,” the OZiBEES owner said.