Published on August 3, 2021

Backyard Hens and Urban Beekeeping Licences

The Birds & The Bees

It’s no secret that urban beekeeping and backyard hens are two hobbies that have been available to St. Albert residents for a few years. But what exactly is all the buzz…er…flap about?

In 2017, City Council passed the Urban Beekeeping Bylaw – which not only allows the keeping of honeybees in St. Albert, but also outlines the regulations required to participate.

“In addition to offering a valuable educational experience that provides a connection to nature and our food system, urban beekeeping can help to improve pollination and in turn, increase biodiversity, food security and environmental stability,” says Tracy Tsui, City of St. Albert Planning and Development Coordinator. “With appropriate management practices in place, beekeeping in urban areas is a safe activity.” To date, there are six urban beekeepers in operation in the city.

Bees and honeycomb

hens beside bird feeder

In 2019, City Council passed the Hen Bylaw – on the heels of a pilot program that began in 2017 – that allows backyard hens and outlines the regulations required to be a safe hen keeper in St. Albert.

“Owning your own hens provides a greater appreciation for animals, helps keep pests under control and offers hours of entertainment – as hens actually have tons of personality,” exclaims Tsui.

In response to community feedback, the Hen Bylaw was amended in spring 2021 in an effort to increase overall flock health. Changes are as follows:

  • Residents can own up to six hens, instead of just four, provided that their coop provides sufficient space per hen in accordance with the Hen Bylaw.
  • A minimum of 10-square-feet is required per hen of coop run space as to allow hens to roam comfortably outdoors in a protected space.
  • A hen coop must contain a minimum of one nesting box for every three hens, instead of one or two.
  • Adjacent properties that are undeveloped/vacant are not required to be notified of a hen licence application.
  • A hen coop can be located within the side yard of a residential property, provided minimum setback requirements are met.
  • Increase the annual Hen Licence fee to $45 from $40 due to inflation and staff time required to review and process new applications.

To date, there are 21 hen licences in operation in St. Albert.

Bees on blue wood

hen on grass

So, expert or newbie, if having your own supply of honey seems like a sweet idea, or a seemingly endless supply of fresh eggs has you clucking with excitement, hen and/or beekeeping might be right for you.

“While the City wants to provide enjoyable programs, we also want to ensure they are run safely for everyone,” says Tsui. “As part of the application process, residents must complete a bee/hen course – which gives a realistic indication of work and costs involved and helps people decide if it is or is not the right project for them.”

Residents applying for a bee licence must get unanimous permission from all neighbours, as bee stings can cause a severe allergic reaction in some people, while those interested in a hen licence only have to notify their direct neighbour.

For more information on the City’s backyard hen licences or urban beekeeping licences, please contact hens@stalbert.ca or bees@stalbert.ca, respectively.


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Last edited: August 20, 2021