The City of Mission is launching a short term pilot program for the keeping of hens & bees in urban areas of Mission. Up to 10 households will be selected for each one through the application process to participate in this program for a 12 month trial.
These pilot programs are designed to:
- Enable local residents to increase healthy local food production and increase personal food security through the production of eggs or honey;
- Improved biodiversity;
- Enhance the community ambience and promote a better understanding of life cycles and natural processes;
- Improve mental health of residents and contribute to overall well-being;
- Engage participants, neighbours and the community while contributing to a sustainable food system.
Urban backyard hen keeping can help improve the local food security for residents in the City of Mission. Backyard hen keeping can also provide valuable educational and recreational opportunities for people to connect to nature and to our food system. Hen keeping is a completely safe activity in residential areas provided good management practices are followed.
How to Apply
- Review pilot program requirements and associated municipal and provincial bylaws to be sure you understand all of the requirements
- Complete registration requirements: Apply for a Premise Identification Number
- Notify neighbours of intent to keep backyard hens using neighbour notification letter
- Complete and submit your program application form and a site plan showing where the coop (enclosure) will be placed on your lot. If participating in both the hen and bee pilot programs, site plan must show both proposed enclosure locations.
- After staff review, your site plan to confirm your coop complies with required setbacks, and Council has approved your temporary use permit you will receive a letter authorizing you to begin building your coop
- Install electric fencing around your coop and run
- When your coop is completed, contact the Bylaw Enforcement office to arrange a final site inspection
- Once you have received a final inspection of the site by bylaw enforcement you will receive a signed copy of the temporary use permit after which you can then get hens
All interested backyard hen keepers must submit an application outlining the following:
- Name, address, and contact information for the site owner
- Confirmation of the location of the coop and run in relation to the property (site drawing or photo evidence of compliance with setback requirements)
- Proof (and date) that all immediately surrounding neighbours, including those separated by an alleyway, have been informed of the applicant’s intention to keep hens on site
- If you are not the owner of the property on which you plan to keep hens, please include a signed letter of permission from the property owner
- roosters are not permitted
- hens must be at least four months old
- only egg-laying hens allowed
- a maximum of 6 hens is permitted per lot with the minimum being 2 hens
- a maximum of one hen enclosure is permitted per lot
- hen enclosures are not permitted in front yards
- hens are for personal use only (not to sell or trade hens or products from the hens including eggs and manure)
Coop Placement and Site Requirements
Hen enclosures may only be located in the backyards of properties that are completely fenced and secure. Some properties, due to the smaller size of a backyard or other situational factors, may not be deemed suitable for urban hen keeping through the application process. An approved site may house only one coop and run, and they must be in compliance with program guidelines. Proposed sites should minimize impacts to adjacent neighbours (away from bedroom windows, the furthest point from the building).
Standard coop and run setback requirements are outlined below:
Option A: A minimum of 3 m from any property line bordering another residentially zoned lot, or
Option B: A minimum of 1.25m from the rear property line and 1.5 m from interior side property lot lines if the entrance to the coop is located away from the closest lot line, or
Option C: With consent from the neighbour a coop and run can extend to the property line at least meeting the minimum setback for an “accessory enclosed storage use” for the run
Requirements for coop and enclosure:
Backyard hen keepers shall maintain the sites under good management and animal husbandry practices in order to reduce impacts to the local environment while providing safe and effective housing for the hens. Hens require conditions to prevent distress, disease, and welfare issues such as appropriate food, water, shelter, light, warmth, ventilation, veterinary care and opportunities for essential behaviours such as scratching, pecking, dust-bathing and roosting, in order to be comfortable and healthy.
The coop must be constructed with materials that enable effective cleaning and disinfection as well as protect birds from anticipated environmental conditions, including normally expected changes in heat, cold, and precipitation. The coop must be built and maintained to prevent vermin from living beneath it or within its walls and to prevent other animals from entering it.
- Coop area must be a minimum of 4sqft per hen (0.37m2) with direct access to the run. (Coop area is permitted to overlap or be raised above-run area).
- A minimum of 1 nest box enclosed on three sides per 4 hens (12 x 12 inches in size)
- 8 – 12 inches of perch space per hen is required. Perch must be 2.5 – 3.5 inches wide and have smooth, rounded edges and not exceed 39.4 in (1 m) above closest floor or perch. Perch must be positioned to minimize fouling of birds, feeders, or drinkers located below.
The run must be built to prevent the escape of hens and access by other animals, and located in an area that provides shade, direct sunlight, good drainage, and protection from wind.
- The entire coop and run must be surrounded by electric fencing designed and maintained in accordance with the electric fencing guidelines of the WildSafeBC to prevent dangerous wildlife (eg: bears) from gaining access.
- The run must be predator resistant. The run can be established with a chain link, welded, or woven fencing on a sturdy frame. A reinforced bottom of woven fencing will deter burrowing animals from entering.
- The run (connected outdoor space) must provide at least 1 m2 (10 ft2) of floor area per hen
Feeding and Water Requirements:
Feeding and watering should take place within the coop to discourage access by wild birds.
Food receptacles should be made of non-corrosive material that is easily cleaned minimizes spillage, prevents contamination with droppings and keeps food dry. The containers should be large enough for all the birds to comfortably eat at once or numerous enough to prevent competition or intimidation.
Water receptacles should be made of non-corrosive material that can be cleaned and disinfected with a solution of chlorine bleach, prevent contamination with droppings and is spill and leak proof. The containers should be large enough for all the birds to comfortably drink at once and hold enough water for all birds for an entire day. They should be slightly positioned higher than the feeder or far enough away to prevent contamination with food.
Foraging and Dust Bathing:
Foraging and dust bathing is essential behaviours required for hens in order to be comfortable and healthy. Foraging is a behavioural need that consists of pecking and scratching on a solid surface that is associated with searching for and ingesting food. Dust bathing is often a communal activity and is done to keep themselves free of external parasites such as mites. Foraging and dust bathing sites should be located within the run instead of the coop.
- Spread bales of hay or straw, insoluble grit, or oat hulls in an area of the run to provide foraging opportunities as well as nutritional enrichment
- Locate foraging site in an area where hens can access it from as many sides as possible
- Hens can make a dust bath directly in the ground. Alternatively a wide food-safe plastic container such as a cat litter pan or small kiddie pool can be used
- Dust bath material in the most basic form is dirt and sand
- Additives to control mites and other external parasites include diatomaceous earth, wood ash, dried herbs such as mint and sage may be used
- Locate dust bath in a sunny area where hens can access it from as many sides as possible
Hen keeping supplies, including additional feed and litter, should be maintained in a secure enclosure such as a shed or garage to reduce contamination from pests as well as minimize attracting nuisance animals or dangerous wildlife.
The site and coop must be properly maintained to prevent smells that could act as attractants to nuisance animals. Fouled feed, manure and soiled bedding must be removed and composted or discarded to prevent nuisance odours.
- Slaughtering of hens is not permitted within city limits. Within city limits, hens may only be euthanized at a veterinary practice.
- Removal methods include humane euthanasia by a veterinarian, relocation to a farm, or taking hens to a licensed abattoir.
- Multiple deceased birds should be double-bagged and taken to the landfill – do not place them in curbside garbage or they can be taken to a veterinarian for disposal. Single deceased birds can be wrapped in paper and placed in the curbside compost (Rot Pot).
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) -How to prevent and detect disease in backyard flocks and pet birds
- National Farm Animal Care Council – Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pullets and Laying Hens
- Backyard Chickens.com – general information, coop guidelines, networking
- iChickens Backyard Chicken Courses
- WildSafe BC
Keeping honey bees in an urban setting requires responsible management to ensure safety and promote goodwill with neighbours. It is in everyone’s best interest if beekeepers are sensitive to the public’s safety and concerns. Every beekeeper shall adhere to good management and husbandry practices and maintain bees in such a condition so as to prevent swarming, aggressive behaviours and disease. Bylaw Enforcement must be notified of any swarms and/or disease and the steps taken to rectify the issue.
How to Apply
- Review pilot program requirements and associated municipal and provincial bylaws to be sure you understand all of the requirements
Provincial Animal Health Act – Bee Regulation
- Complete free online Provincially provided Introductory Beekeeping course or approved related course through BC Bee
- Complete Provincial registration requirements
Apply for Premises Identification (ID)
Beekeeper & Apiary Registration
- Notify neighbours of adjacent properties using neighbour notification letter
- Complete and submit your application form and a site plan showing where the hives and enclosure will be placed on your lot. If participating in both the hen and bee pilot programs, site plan must show both proposed enclosure locations.
- After staff review your site plan to confirm your hive and enclosure complies with required setbacks, and Council has approved your temporary use permit, you will receive a letter authorizing you to begin building and setting up your site
- When your site is completed, contact the Bylaw Enforcement office to arrange a final site inspection
- Once you have received a final inspection of the site by bylaw enforcement you will receive a signed copy of your temporary use permit after which you can then get bees
All interested beekeepers must submit an application outlining the following requirements:
- Name, address, and contact information for the site owner
- Confirmation of the location of the hive in relation to the property (site drawing or photo evidence of compliance with setback requirements)
- Proof of success in an accepted beekeeping course
- Proof (and date) that all immediately surrounding neighbours, including those separated by an alleyway, have been informed of the applicant’s intention to keep bees on site
- If you are not the owner of the property on which you plan to keep bees, please include a signed letter of permission from the property owner
* New Beekeepers are recommended to have the support and assistance of an experienced beekeeper – contact firstname.lastname@example.org for contact information
- A maximum of 2 hives are permitted per lot
- A maximum of one hive enclosure (electric fence around) is permitted per lot
- Hive enclosures (electric fence around) are not permitted in front yards
- Hive entrances must be directed away from adjacent residential properties
- Hives should be located at least three metres from all property lines where there is an adjacent neighbour, unless the property is separated from the adjacent neighbour by a solid fence or vegetative hedge at least 1.5 metres high
- Each approved property shall house one to two active hives consisting of a bottom board and hive cover with a maximum of six honey supers per hive
- Each Site may keep up to one nucleus (Nuc) hive to provide options for good animal husbandry and hive management
- Bees are for personal use only (not to sell or trade bees or products from the bees including honey and beeswax)
Hive Placement and Site Requirements:
Beehives, also known as apiaries, are structures inhabited by bees and can only be sited in the rear yard that has a solid fence or hedge which is not less than 1.8 meters in height. If the fence or hedge is smaller, the setback distance from all property lines cannot be less than 3 meters in distance from adjacent property lines. A beehive enclosure must be a minimum of 3 meters from public rights-of-ways such as lanes, pedestrian pathways and sidewalks. The beehive enclosure must be located at least 25 m away from public places including schools, playgrounds, sports fields and hospitals.
An approved site may house only one enclosure with a maximum of 2 hives and one nuc in compliance with program guidelines. Proposed sites should minimize impacts to adjacent neighbours.
- The beehive and nuc must have a bottom board and a hive top cover
- The beehive may consist of a total of up to six honey supers while nuc may consist of up to two honey supers
- Hives should be situated where they will get first light and sun for most of the day. If possible, the colonies should face southeast. Windbreaks are highly desirable. If windbreaks are not possible, colony lids should be weighted with rocks or bricks
- The beehive must be situated to allow bees a direct flight path to the beehive and nuc while controlling the potential for bees to become a nuisance to neighbours
- Direct the hive entrance away from adjacent properties, unless doing so will result in poor sun or excessive wind exposure, which would compromise the healthy function of the beehive and nuc.
- Flight barriers such as fences and tall vegetation can be used to alter the foraging bees’ flight path so that the path is dispersed by the time the bees reach the property line
- To prevent entry by dangerous wildlife (e.g: bears), the hives must be surrounded in electric fencing designed and maintained in accordance with the electric fencing guidelines of WildSafeBC and the Get Bear Smart Society
- The enclosure should provide enough room for the beekeeper to work comfortably in a secure and safe manner
- The enclosure should allow for space between colonies. Adequate space between colonies will minimize bees drifting between colonies
Considerate Hive Management:
Hive inspections and manipulations disturb the bees, so do what you can to minimize the disturbance. The judicious use of smoke can help calm the bees, as does timing your hive inspections for when:
- Field bees are out foraging;
- The hive is not under stress;
- The hive is in direct sunlight;
- Temperatures are moderate; and,
- Your neighbours are not out in the yard.
Bee Water Requirements:
Water has two uses in the colony. The first is to cool the colony, and the second is to thin stored honey. To prevent honey bee nuisances that arise from their need for water, create attractive alternatives to other sources of water that are not on the apiary property. If water is not made readily available bees will seek water from alternative sources such as neighbouring pools, hot tubs, birdbaths or dog dishes.
- Establish the water source early: For best results, provide the apiary water source early in the spring, before the honey bees start searching for water.
- Maintain a water reservoir: Never allow the apiary water to go dry during the water collection months. If this happens, the bees will seek out another source of water and may not return to the apiary water source. If this happens, the honey bees could potentially develop into a nuisance.
- Use floats: To prevent water-seeking honey bees from drowning, put floats or other landing objects in open pools, birdbaths, tubs and other containers. Pebbles, corks and floating items of wood, straw, or plastic can be used for these platforms.
It is a natural process for part of a parent colony to split and relocate; however, many people become concerned when they see a honey bee swarm in flight or when they find one settled on their property (e.g., in a tree or under their house eaves). Effective steps can be taken to discourage swarming in urban settings including:
- Regular inspections for indication of swarming;
- Properly timed increases in the space available to the hive;
- Splitting the hive (and keeping spare equipment on hand in case you need to split);
- Brood chamber manipulation to make sure the queen has room to lay; and,
- Ensuring adequate ventilation in the hive.
If a swarm is seen, immediate efforts should be made to collect the swarm. Contact a local beekeeping group if you need assistance.
The primary responsibility of beekeepers is to properly manage disease and pests, including parasitic mites, to ensure hive health, honey quality and to prevent cross-contamination. All beekeepers must be able to recognize and deal with several honey bee diseases and pests, some of which are extremely contagious to other bees. There are many approaches to disease and pest management, and techniques are evolving quickly. Receiving adequate training, being involved with the local beekeeping community and having a mentor in the first few years of beekeeping is one of the best ways to stay on top of the latest disease and pest management techniques.
Beekeeping supplies should be maintained in a secure enclosure that excluded bees such as a shed or garage to reduce contamination from pests as well as minimize attracting nuisance animals.
The site must be properly maintained to prevent smells that could act as attractants to nuisance animals. Clean the ground around the colony after working the colonies by removing and placing wax pieces and other debris in a bucket, and then sealing and relocating the bucket away from bee access at the end of the day. Hive scrapings (wax and honey) or other debris should be removed from the enclosure and composted or discarded to prevent attracting other bees, wasps, or other unwanted visitors.
Additional Resources & Definitions
- The happy homesteader
- Urban Bee Network
- Best-practices guidelines for nuisance-free beekeeping – Oregon State
- BC Bee Supply
- BC Honey Producers Association
Before the City can issue each participant a temporary use permit, the applicant must complete an accredited beekeeping course.
Available regional accredited courses:
Participants can find a suitable mentor by contacting any of the following beekeeping communities.
Apiary – The place where honey bee colonies are located. An apiary is not defined or limited by acreage or lot size.
Bee – four-winged insects that are often covered in dense hair and meet all their dietary needs from the nectar and pollen from flowers. There are over 500 species of bees in Oregon, and many of them live naturally in cities. Bees are frequently confused with yellowjackets and hornets.
Colony – A group of honey bees typically consisting of a single queen (a fertile female), thousands of worker bees (sterile females), drones (males) and brood (immature bees of any sex). The colony is the smallest management unit. In the movable-frame system, the nest may consist of multiple boxes of frames stacked vertically. Frequently used interchangeably with the term hive (see below).
Comb – A collection of hexagonal wax cells typically built along a plane, which houses honey, pollen and/or brood. In the movable-frame system, comb is synonymous with the term frame (where a single unit of comb is equivalent to a frame).
Flightpath – The route taken by foraging worker honey bees to and from the colony to gather water, flower nectar, pollen, or propolis.
Hive – A container or collection of boxes for housing honey bees. Typically, a human-made box with movable frames, but a hive can occur naturally in a tree or other cavity.
Honey super (super)– honey super consists of a box in which eight to 10 frames are hung. Honey bees collect nectar and store the processed nectar in honeycomb, which they build on the frames.
Nucleus (Nuc) – a smaller hive in which larger bee colonies can expand into. The nucleus provides options for good animal husbandry and hive management to prevent swarming.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What if rodents become an issue?
Neighbours who are concerned can make a complaint to the Bylaw Enforcement division.
- What will be done to prevent attracting dangerous wildlife such as bears and coyotes?
To prevent entry from dangerous wildlife, the hives and coops must be surrounded by electric fencing designed and maintained in accordance with the electric fencing guidelines of WildSafe BC and Get Bear Smart Society.
- How do neighbours of those participating get a say in their participation and/or results of whether it was a success?
Prior to making an application, applicants must contact their neighbours to inform them of their desire to apply. Prior to the staff report being presented to Council, a mailout will be sent to all neighbours within 10 metres of the subject property offering those neighbours an opportunity to submit commits on the proposal.
- I/My neighbour already has a hive/hens what if they are not accepted into the program?
- What if I am refused to the program but have already got bees/hens?
- What if the hens are loud or emit an unpleasant odour?
The Good Neighbour Bylaw outlines acceptable noise levels and times. No roosters are permitted as part of the Pilot Program. The bylaw also speaks to noxious odour prevention. Neighbours who are concerned can make a complaint to the Bylaw Enforcement division.
- Will the City be making regular checks that the regulations are being followed?
The site, including coop or hive location and design will be inspected prior to issuance of the Temporary Use Permit (TUP). Neighbours who are concerned can make a complaint to the Bylaw Enforcement division. If any conditions of the TUP are not met or followed, the applicant runs the risk of their TUP being revoked.
- What will deem this pilot project a success or failure?
This will be determined by Council at the end of the Pilot Project.
- Will a list of accepted participants be posted anywhere with addresses?
Participating properties will be listed on our website at https://www.mission.ca/hens-bees/ once they have been approved by Council.
10. Will participants be expected to re-home their hens or bees at the end of the Pilot Project?
If Council does not support allowing hens and bees permanently through a bylaw amendment then the participants in the pilot program would be expected to re-home their hens and bees.