In June 2014, John and Christine McDowell requested a change in city zoning laws that would allow urban beekeeping in residential areas. Initially, McDowell's request was denied by the Legal and Finance Committee, but the City Council has since put the request back up for consideration.
Current city laws do not allow urban beekeeping in residential areas, as beekeeping is only allowed in areas zoned for general agriculture. They do permit agricultural crops, however. The McDowells request the definition of "agricultural crop" be extended out to honey crop.
Honey bees are widely considered non aggressive, unlike hornets or wasps. Although honey bee aggression does exist, it generally occurs in defense of the hive or when there are disturbances nearby. The exception is Africanized honey bees, which are known to be very aggressive and attack in swarms.
Benefits of Urban Beekeeping
The benefits of urban beekeeping have been heralded nation wide. According to the American Beekeeping Federation, honey bees contribute "over $14 billion to the value of U.S. crop production." Because of Colony Collapse Disorder, hive populations dropped dramatically starting in 2006. There is also a rapid decline in the number of beekeepers today. This poses a serious problem, since an estimated one third of the foods Americans regularly consume are pollinated by bees. Here is a list of crops honey bees pollinate. Many believe urban beekeeping could be a part of the solution to this problem.
State and Federal Resources on Beekeeping
Beekeeping falls under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the federal level. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has oversight at the state level. According to their Apiary Inspection Program, South Dakota regularly ranks in the top five states for honey production. In 2014, South Dakota was one state targeted by federal efforts to improve pollinator health, with $3 million available.
Legal and Finance Committee Minutes - Minutes from the July 2 meeting, in which hobby beekeeping was discussed.
Ordinances in Minnesota Regarding Apiaries - This source provides information as to how some cities in Minnesota have dealt with honey bees within residential zones.
South Dakota Department of Agriculture - Value of Honey Bees to South Dakota
Wannabee Hobby Beekeepers - Home page of the Black Hills South Dakota Area Beekeepers