Village board says OK to beekeeping in Oak Park

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Honeybee hives could be showing up in Oak Park backyards in the foreseeable future, following a decision on Monday night.

The Oak Park village board voted 6-1 Monday evening to start moving toward allowing beekeeping within the community. Such a practice is currently considered a "nuisance" under village code, and an Oak Park resident has been pushing for the past couple of years to change that.

Back in October, the local board of health recommended that the village board should allow residents to maintain beehives, but trustees just got to the matter this week, following an April election and taking the month of December off.

Supporters have argued that bees would be good for the environment and local gardens, while others worry about the possible dangers to people with bee allergies. Trustee Ray Johnson voted no, as he was pushing for the village to require beekeepers to first gain permission from their neighbors before buying hives.

Village staff now plans to craft an ordinance, which will need subsequent approval from trustees. Staff has already started working on the new law, which could include provisions such as requiring beekeepers to obtain a permit, forbidding apartment or condo dwellers from maintaining hives, and limiting each property to two bee colonies.


Reader Comments

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T.J. from OP  

Posted: June 27th, 2011 9:38 PM

Maybe the village just wants to use the new local honey as a way to promote and market their baby the Farmer's Market. Oh, and that goofy mid week market thing in DTOP.

Piglet from 100 Acre Wood  

Posted: June 27th, 2011 1:58 PM

Wherever there's honey, there is sure to be Pooh Bear. Also Eyeore.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 26th, 2011 8:50 PM

Huh? What does a pop star have do with this issue? GaGa certainly has used her celebrity status to bring attention to some important social issues.

T.J. from OP  

Posted: June 26th, 2011 3:53 PM

Oak Park is the Lady Gaga of local government.

Mustard-seed from Oak Park  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 10:46 PM

Just curious--to those of you who are against beekeeping in Oak Park ... 1. Have you ever been close enough to a working beehive to see the bees? 2. Have you ever been stung by a honeybee, or even a hornet, wasp, or yellowjacket? 3. What is your gender (I sense a trend)?

David Hammond from  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 7:28 PM

More bees, more better. I'd love to have hives of bees next door. They'd help my garden along. I actually planted a bunch of flowers that are supposed to attract them. We need more of them, and if people want to take care of them responsibly, more power to them.

Editor from Oak Park  

Posted: June 25th, 2011 7:21 PM

This is one of those ideas that should first be tried out next to the homes of the Village Trustees, Village President and Village Manager for one year. If no one gets stung, and the honey is sweet, than Oak Park will really have something.

Charlie Kohler from Oak park  

Posted: June 24th, 2011 2:12 PM

This measure is really disturbing. A bee hive typically has over 25,000 bees within it. Please imagine your neighbor with over 25,000 bees in their backyard. If that concerns you, please email our village board at I would think that most residents would be opposed to this - we should really make sure the board knows this.

Mr. Natural  

Posted: June 24th, 2011 11:52 AM

Great news! Now I can raise bees. They will live in total harmony with the squirrels in my attic, the possums under my porch and the crabby old lady next door.


Posted: June 24th, 2011 8:23 AM

Good way to soften the blow on low income housing. I would much rather live next to an apartment that a thousand bees in my yard. Just look at that picture.

Matt from Oak park  

Posted: June 24th, 2011 12:55 AM

Wow how do these guys get elected, this is a major city, put them on top of the medical arts building not small yards. Did they think about this at all or just bow down to one idiot who kept pestering them?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 8:08 PM

Very funny, T.J.!

AL from Oak Park  

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 2:31 PM

Isn't the board supposed to speak for the voters? If we took a vote of the villagers, do you suppose the majority would vote yes to allow beekeeping? Ha! Right.

Frustrated Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 9:06 PM

I'm so glad our Village Board is tackling the big issues facing our community! Egads..(meanwhile our infrastructure crumbles, and they continue to spend more than the already high taxes we pay them, while their expensive social engineering projects sputter)

T.J. from OP  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 8:38 PM

@epic The village will hire a consultant for $175,000 and move forward regardless of risk. The consultant will be another connected person and payment will be strung out in small weekly checks.

epic lulz  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 7:57 PM

In theory, this is a great idea. In practice, it is going to be a nightmare. How many deaths from anaphylaxis per annum does the risk analysis assume? And who will be required to compensate the victims' families, the beekeeper or the Village? You did perform a risk analysis, right? Nightmare.


Posted: June 22nd, 2011 9:46 AM

This will make it a lot easier to feed my pet grizzly bear now.

eheckman from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 9:29 AM

You can't have more than two dogs...yet you can have beehives. Yay Oak Park for another feat of legislative logic!

T.J. from OP  

Posted: June 21st, 2011 8:54 PM

Allowing beekeeping is a crazy idea. Urban living requires that you do without some things you would otherwise do. Sorry, move to the country if beekeeping is something you want to do. I would like to raise HOGS, but figured it might upset my neighbors.

Ray Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2011 1:13 PM

@ eheckman -- part of the proposed requirements will be for 6ft and 4ft "walls", designed to increase the bees flight height when coming to/from their colony. I believe -- especially on the smaller lots -- this is going to be unsightly for neighbors.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: June 21st, 2011 11:16 AM

For more information on the beekeeping discussion and mitigation strategies for neighbors, you can view that section of the Village Board meeting at

eheckman from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2011 10:40 AM

I think there should be a square footage requirement for your backyard. For some of us in South Oak Park...there would be no escaping something going on in our neighbor's backyard. I've seen neighbors have "grill wars" when a grill in one backyard is placed too close to a neighboring home's window...what are bees going to do? And do allergic people have a say when their neighbor decides to put hives next door? Badly thought out for a community with such a high population/open space density.

Bronwyn Soell  

Posted: June 21st, 2011 9:50 AM

Hooray! Yea for the board showing common sense! Bees are going to be around no matter what. Managed bees are productive and good for the environment. Congratulations OP beekeepers! When can I buy some local honey?

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