Honey making high atop downtown Minneapolis?

Share this:
April 3, 2013
By: Nick Halter
SUBMITTED PHOTO/Beez Kneez
Nick Halter
There are 28 permitted beehives in the city right now, but zoning rules make it difficult for commercial buildings to put hives atop their buildings

An ordinance change is moving forward to the Minneapolis City Council that would clear the way for beehives to be placed atop commercial buildings, a change that advocates say will result in more local honey and more pollination.

Beekeeping is already legal in Minneapolis with a city-issued permit. There are 28 permitted beehives in the city right now, mostly at parks, schools and community gardens.

However, zoning rules make it difficult for commercial buildings to put hives atop their buildings, because they need consent from 80 percent of neighbors within 100 feet. The current proposal would do away with the consent requirement if a rooftop beehive is at least 15 feet from another building.

Kristy Allen and Erin Rupp, founders of Beez Kneez and holders of six beehive permits across the city, say that opening up rooftops to hives will provide homes for more bees and subsequently result in more honey and pollination.

“Bees are a free pollination service,” Rupp said. “For (many years) they have been providing us with fruits and vegetables. They are a very important part of our food system. They’re kind of like the canary in the coal mine.”

The idea for rooftop hives came from within City Hall, when city Sustainability Director Gayle Prest and Council Member Lisa Goodman (Ward 7) wanted to put hives atop City Hall. They found out that they would need to get approval from all the tenants in the Grain Exchange building, plus the federal government because the U.S. District Court is across the street.

Allen and Rupp says honeybees pollinate in a three-mile radius, which would include the northern half of the Chain of Lakes. They said honeybees are not aggressive and only sting when someone comes into contact with their hive. 

“Honeybees sting to protect their colony, and they die when they sting,” Rupp said. “The animals that do attack are the ones that sting for food —  like wasps — that are carnivores that are stinging to eat.”

A city committee today passed the ordinance amendment unanimously. It should be up for full City Council approval soon.