Tara Lapointe examines bees around the hive she keeps in her backyard on Willow Street in Halifax.

To bee or not to bee.

That is the question Tara Lapointe wants answered.

Lapointe is a Nova Scotia-registered beekeeper and has a hive in her backyard on Willow Street in Halifax.

She told CBC’s Information Morning someone recently complained about her hive.

Dwindling bee population

The hive is in a fenced-in location at the back of her yard.

“You’ll see the busy bees moving back and forth, they really don’t care about anything but their nectar so they just zoom off into the sky and they’ll travel about five kilometres in either direction to gather all their nectar and pollen.”

Lapointe, who is a naturopathic doctor, said she is concerned about the dwindling population of bees in the area and interested in the benefits of honey and royal jelly.

Her co-op told her about the bee complaint and she called HRM’s bylaw office. She learned beekeeping is classified as an agricultural activity and the complaint was being passed on to a compliance officer.

Surprised by complaint

“It’s really up to the compliance officer, how they proceed with a complaint,” she said.

Lapointe, a member of the Halifax Honey Bee Society, said she doesn’t know who made the complaint and was surprised because she had informed her neighbours about her intention to keep the bees and their response had been positive.

Tara Lapointe and her bee hive

Naturopathic doctor Tara Lapointe is shown with her bee hive in the backyard of her Willow Street home. (Zak Markan/CBC)

“My immediate next-door neighbours have been great. Their little boys are intrigued by the bees and they haven’t noticed any bees on their property. They said they just kind of zoom up and over.”

HRM’s animal bylaw is being amended to spell out the conditions that will allow registered beekeepers to have hives in the city.

“Although the municipality does not regulate the industry, we do have a definition within our animal bylaw that does reference bees as venomous insects,” HRM spokeswoman Tiffany Chase said.

“Those people who were beekeepers under provincial regulations were allowed to have them. But that specific municipal regulation talked about not allowing these animals off your own property and, of course, we know that bees will be moving off private property. So we needed to make an amendment to our animal bylaw to recognize that movement by honey bees.”

Bylaw amendment to be considered

She said people who want to have hives must still be provincially registered as a beekeeper.

“You are required to go through a process with them to obtain a certificate and meet a series of regulations that they require. But in terms of the regulation within our own municipal bylaw that was causing some potential issues with beekeeping, that will be addressed by the end of the month.”

Regional council will consider the bylaw amendment sometime in July, Chase said.

“Most of our bylaws are actually enforced on a complaint-driven basis, so when we receive complaints of such a nature, we do followup. But in this case, it would appear to us that it may not have been clear that bees are exempt, and they will be once this amendment goes through.”