Weekly Feature

2018-06-07 / Front Page

Village Board grants permit for beekeeping


Summer just got a little sweeter for an East Aurora resident. On Monday, the Village Board approved a permit for Dawn Razzka to keep honeybees in her backyard on Olean Street.

(See editorial on page four)

“This is the first, I think, I’ve ever seen for bees,” said Mayor Peter Mercurio about the application for the permit to keep other than household pets.

Razzka explained that she would be keeping Italian honeybees on her property, adding that the mild-mannered bees would help with pollination of her plants.

“Now that we have a greenhouse, we’re just not getting the action we’d like from the outskirts of the bees,” she said. “There’s not a lot of bees in East Aurora. I’ve got plants galore, and I’m still waiting for pollination in the greenhouse.”

She further explained that in the unlikely event the bees become aggressive, the solution would be to remove the queen from the hive.

“They create another queen and go back to being docile,” she said.

The honeybees also differ from their colorful cousins, the bumblebees, as they pollinate more plants than the bumblebees. Unlike the bumblebees, honeybees are also able to live in man-made hives. Razzka described the honeybees as “simple-minded.”

“They only have one job. They want to go out to get nectar to bring back to the hive to make honeycomb to make the queen happy,” she explained.

Trustee Ernie Scheer, who has experience with honeybees, agreed.

“They really are just about the flowers,” he said. “They really don’t bother people unless you walk right up to the hive and they accidentally fly into you.”

Community members were supportive of the plan. Joe Spahn said years ago, he kept bees on Buffalo Road. Spahn said the bees never bothered anyone.

“They were probably a great help to all of us who have plants,” he said.

Scheer cautioned Razzka that keeping the bees isn’t as easy as it looks.

“I thought it would be a lot easier than it was, and there’s a lot of management involved,” he said.

Razzka initially said she was hoping to have at most six to 10 hives to start with on the property. Trustee Al McCabe said after talking to neighbors in the area, there were some concerns about that amount.

According to Razzka, a healthy hive would contain about 50,000 bees. However, only 10,000 bees would leave the hive in a day.

In doing the math, Mayor Mercurio concluded that 10,000 bees with a maximum of 10 hives would mean 100,000 bees could ultimately be out on the property. Upon realizing this, he let out a long, low whistle.

McCabe suggested limiting the number of hives, with the option that Razzka could come back and petition to expand her numbers.

“I think to come back and ask for more is good, but to come back and ask for less is hard,” said McCabe. “If we limit them and you have the six hives and everyone is happy, you can come back and ask for more.”

Ultimately, the decision was made to limit the maximum number of hives on the property to four.

McCabe stressed that neither he nor the neighbors were against the decision; they were simply curious about the specifics of the plan.

“I think it’s a great thing that you’re doing, I don’t mind it,” he said, adding that the neighbors are aware of the positive impact this will have on their gardens.

Mercurio also spoke in favor of the decision.

“They’ve done their homework, [and] we’ve done some reading [on the subject]. I don’t think it’s going to negatively affect anyone. I think the world needs more bees, and anything folks are going to do to help that is positive.”

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