STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) - A growing number of Twin Cities suburbs have relaxed their rules for keeping bees.

White Bear Lake, Stillwater and Lake Elmo are among communities that have recently adopted more bee-friendly regulations in an effort to revive the plant pollinator. Bee populations have been shrinking because of pesticides and bee mites.

Bees were considered pests in Mahtomedi in the 1990s. Bee hives were banned in that community and elsewhere. But Mayor Jud Marshall says public sentiment has changed. Marshall expects the city will adopt a new bee ordinance in the next few months.

Stillwater had required property owners to have nine acres in order to keep bees, but has relaxed that rule. Now, homeowners need just one-third acre for bee hives.