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Beekeeping restrictions may be eased in Minneapolis

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The Minneapolis City Council's health and environmental committee approved an ordinance change that would no longer require beekeepers to get written approval from neighbors to start hives on their property, the Star Tribune reports.

The proposed ordinance change also frees restrictions on hives located on the second or higher story of a building. The changes will be presented to the Minneapolis City Council in the coming weeks, the newspaper said.

The council initially legalized beekeeping in 2009, and about 50 permits have been approved by the city since, according to Animal Control officials.

Currently, the ordinance requires written consent from 80 percent of the residents within 100 feet of the beekeeper's property, and 100 percent approval from neighbors immediately adjacent to their property. However, the approval process has become burdensome for beekeepers over, among things, the amount of time it takes to secure consent from neighbors.

For example, CARAG neighborhood resident Pam Price had to get written consent from 24 neighbors, which took about three weeks because people were out of town for extended periods of time.

Price told the Star Tribune that it "truly did get to the point where we were stalking cars in the alley."

The proposed change in the Minneapolis beekeeping ordinance comes as concerns continue over the decline of the world's bee population and a potential threat to the world's food supply.

"One of every three bites of food eaten worldwide depends on pollinators, especially bees, for a successful harvest," a 2013 Yale report said.

For much of the past 10 years, beekeepers in the U.S. and Europe have been reporting annual hive losses of 30 percent or higher, the report added.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year.

Forum News Service says despite the massive die-offs of bees across the U.S. – known as “colony collapse disorder” – one beekeepers hives continue to thrive. Bob Morlock, 51, operates Morlock Honey Farms full-time, and his Casselton, North Dakota, business operates in his home state, as well as Minnesota and Texas.

According to Forum News, Morlock has 200 bee yards between North Dakota and Minnesota. One of the bee yards has 56 colonies, and each colony can house up to 50,000 bees.

In addition to honey bees, the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association has information on common bees in the state.

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