Hobby Bee Keeping

The honey bee has been an important part of agricultural efforts for centuries. Unfortunately, populations have recently been threatened due to diseases and environmental conditions which negatively impact the future of agriculture in our province. Urban bee keeping plays an important role in following crops in our urban setting. Not only do bees produce honey, but many backyard gardens benefit through increased yields due to higher rates of pollination.

Other pollinating bees include mason bees and the numerous native bumble bee species.

Hobby Bee Keeping Bylaw

The City of North Vancouver adopted Hobby Bee Keeping Bylaw, 2009, No. 7985 on May 25, 2009 to allow hobby bee keeping in our community as a sustainability effort to support the urban agricultural movement.

The bylaw includes:

  • Maximum of two (2) hives per property allowed
  • Locate at the rear of the property
  • Orient the hives so that the front of the hive faces away from adjacent property dwellings
  • Locate either 2.5m above the ground or behind a solid fence or hedge a minimum of 1.83m (6') tall
  • Bee keepers shall keep the hives well maintained, healthy and reasonably prevent swarming
  • Provide water for the needs of the apiary

For further information and details, please refer to the Bylaw.


Swarming is a natural part of the development of a honey bee colony. Usually occurring in Spring, it is a method of propagation that happens in response to crowding within the colony. After Winter, when the population has been depleted, the Queen starts laying eggs to rebuild the colony. If the Queen is especially productive and/or the hive lacks space to accommodate an expanded colony, the bees will swarm. The old Queen will depart the hive with the older worker bees, leaving a new Queen and younger bees in the original hive.

Honey bee swarms may contain several hundred to several thousand worker bees, a few drones and one Queen. Swarming bees fly around briefly and then cluster on a tree limb, shrub or other object. Clusters usually remain stationary for an hour to a few days, depending on weather and the time needed to find a new nest site by scouting bees. When a suitable location for the new colony is found the cluster breaks up and flies to it.

What should I do if I find a honey bee swarm?

First, remain calm.

Honey bee swarms are not dangerous under most circumstances. Swarming honey bees feed prior to swarming, reducing their ability to sting. As well, bees away from the vicinity of their nest are less defensive and are unlikely to sting unless provoked.

In most situations when a honey bee swarm is found on a tree, shrub or house you do not need to do anything. Swarms are temporary and the bees will move on if you patiently ignore them. Stay back and keep others away from the swarm, but feel free to admire and appreciate the bees from a safe distance. If you are concerned, there are bee keepers equipped to deal with swarms.

To arrange for a swarm pick-up, please call Stephanie Imhoff at 604-617-5083.

Contact Info

Engineering Department
Tel: 604-983-7333
Email: eng@cnv.org

Stephanie Imhoff
CNV Resident & Beekeeper
Tel: 604-617-5083

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