Wanganui's mayor is calling for beehives to be allowed on properties within the city boundary.
Annette Main told the opening of the Apiculture Industry Conference at the Wanganui Racecourse yesterday she had asked city planners to review the rules affecting hives in urban area.
Ms Main said it would be part of the review of the District Plan.
"Our District Plan is quite definite in that beekeeping is only a permitted activity in a rural environment. So currently if you wanted to have a hive or two in an urban setting in Wanganui you would have to apply for a resource consent and that's a big imposition," she said.
The conference was told some centres already allow hives to be kept in suburban sections as long as they were not a nuisance to neighbours. In Auckland there are beehives on the town hall roof in Queen St. And in Palmerston North hives have been allowed in the city, restricted to one hive on a 500sq m section.
She said the issue had gained some traction after the council received a complaint from a Springvale resident upset about bee spotting on the windows of their home and claiming the bees were from nearby hives.
Ms Main said she did not want the issue to become "big and inflammatory" believing it could be dealt with simply.
"Any change to the plan would have to give the number and location of hives on any urban property but obviously it's something other councils are already doing successfully."
She said she did not want the issue to be contentious.
"I know we've got to do something to let it happen because you know and I know that there isn't much sense for someone to be giving away free fruit trees in our community if we haven't got bees around to pollinate them."
"But it's not just fruit trees. Wanganui is very proud of its gardens, but without bees we have nothing.
"I know we will have to have restrictions around that [the bylaw], about the size of the property being used, the number of hives allowed and location of those hives, so it's not a problem for neighbours," she said.
"But currently the bylaw is very vague, so it will need a little work."
Ms Main said the council was aware some people had hives on their urban properties now and had done so for years "but the issue only came to a head when we got this complaint".
She said to ensure urban hives worked successfully it would mean beekeepers working with those property owners.
The conference opened yesterday and runs until Wednesday night.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy will officially open it tomorrow.
It is an important conference for the bee industry because it will attempt to unite beekeepers into one body.
At the moment there is a National Beekeepers' Association of New Zealand and a Federated Farmers' Bee Industry Group. Some beekeepers do not belong to either organisation. A conference spokesperson said tomorrow would be the critical day to set the industry's future path.