Canada’s weirdest laws: it’s illegal to own aggressive bees in Oak Bay, B.C.

Though honeybees are not normally aggressive, there are a few things that could set them off.
Though honeybees are not normally aggressive, there are a few things that could set them off. (Photo: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

It seems that the city of Oak Bay, B.C. has a bee in its bonnet about, well, bees.

The city forbids residents to keep aggressive bees on their property.

Bylaw No. 4013 states:

“Every person who owns, possesses, keeps, houses or confines bees, and every person on whose property bees are kept, housed or confined shall. . .maintain the bees in a condition that reasonably prevents swarming and aggressive behaviour. . .”

How could a bee become aggressive? The bylaw is silent on that point but another section does mention that bees have to be given enough water in order to prevent them visiting the beekeepers’ neighbours for water.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: it is illegal to wear a snake in public in Fredericton, N.B.

The bylaw defines a “bee” as the insect Apis Mellifera, otherwise known as a honeybee.

Though honeybees are not normally aggressive, there are a few things that could set them off, aside from a failure to hydrate them, including:

  • Nectar dearth, meaning the bees are starving, because there is a shortage of nectar-producing flowers;
  • If it’s hotter and more humid than usual; and
  • Bee colonies run at maximum population.

Oak Bay made some amendments to the bylaw in 2013, in order to make it easier for residents to raise bees in their own backyards, as there seem to be quite a few beekeeping enthusiasts in the city.

The amended bylaw states that bees are allowed to be kept on all residential properties. However, the city also places strict regulations on urban beekeepers, starting with having to read the beekeeping bylaws to having to register all beehives.

Oak Bay beekeepers are also encouraged to report their bees to the authorities when the bees become angry, because their neighbours may get spooked at a colony of bees visiting to ask for water.

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