ST. PETER — Beekeeping will remain off-limits in St. Peter after a proposal to allow it failed once again to garner enough City Council support Monday.
Council members voted 5-2 against the proposed city code modification. The modification would’ve allowed residents to apply for permits to keep a limited number of hives in their backyards if they adhered to a range of requirements.
It was the second time the council voted down a proposal to allow beekeeping over the last four years.
Beekeeping last came before the council in 2017. Emily Bruflat, before becoming a council member in 2020, was among the residents who pushed for the city code change back then.
She again advocated for it in the lead-up to Monday’s vote. Bruflat and fellow Council member Brad Devos were the two yes votes.
Council members who voted against it cited concerns for other pollinators, safety and citizen opposition among their reasons. Council members Keri Johnson and Shanon Nowell shared concerns about the impact more honey bees could have on native pollinators.
While honey bees play a big role in pollinating plants, other important and common pollinators include wasps, butterflies and beetles.
“At this point, I’m just not comfortable voting yes because I’m concerned about our native pollinators,” Nowell said.
She and Keri Johnson both indicated they’d support other efforts to make St. Peter more pollinator-friendly.
“I think that’s a great place to direct energy,” Johnson said.
Bruflat said allowing beekeeping would be a good environmental step for the city, including for native pollinators.
“I believe in a both/and approach to supporting native bees and honey bees,” she said. “I think it would be very sustainable and the best thing we can do for our pollinators.”
Mayor Chuck Zieman and Council members Ed Johnson and Stephen Grams were the three others who voted against beekeeping. Grams said he went around and around on the issue, but the feedback he received from citizens led him to vote the resolution down.
“By and large, people are against having honey bees in the community,” he said.
Safety concerns about beekeeping came up during the council’s April 12 meeting. About 62 deaths per year in the U.S. were attributed to hornet, wasp or bee stings between 2000-2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the modification was approved, residents would’ve needed to put up signage and keep hives a certain distance away from neighboring properties. They would’ve also needed to set up barriers, along with meeting a host of other requirements.