beekeeping within city limits
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  1. #1
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    Apr 2015
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    Edgerton, Minnesota, USA
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    Default beekeeping within city limits

    Hi all,
    I live in a small rural town, and have been beekeeping for about 4 years now as a hobbyist. There's a surprising number of beekeepers in my area, and overall a "pollinator-friendly" attitude around town. As of now, however, having honeybees within the city limits is prohibited, and I would like to see if I can change that. Sioux Falls, SD, is the the largest city near us, and they just recently approved beekeeping within their city limits as well. That's really what sparked my desire to see this change happen.

    What I'm wondering is if anyone out there has gone through the process of getting approval for hobbyists to have bees within city limits, and if so, could you please direct me to any and all resources that you have? I would also be very interested in whatever ordinances/rules/regulations have been put in place in your communities that allow beekeeping, so that I can bring as much information to my city council as possible. I think that the more info and research that I have, the more likely I am to have a favorable outcome.

    Any and all help would be appreciated!

    Thank you!

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  3. #2
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    Feb 2012
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    Earlysville, Virginia USA
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    After a complaining neighbor tried to shut down a fellow beekeeper our local supervisor lead the effort to change the code.
    Sec 5.1.63

    https://www.albemarle.org/upload/images/Forms_Center/Departments/County_Attorney/Forms/Albemarle_County_Code_Ch18_Zoning13_Residential_R1 .pdf
    Last edited by Ryan Williamson; 01-17-2020 at 09:17 AM.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Williamson View Post
    After a complaining neighbor tried to shut down a fellow beekeeper our local supervisor lead the effort to change the code.
    Sec 5.1.63

    https://www.albemarle.org/upload/ima...dential_R1.pdf
    As in Albemarle, Virginia near Charlottesville? Will the OP please please please not use their regs as a template for their area! Isle of Wight Virginia picked them up almost verbatim last July to make Urban Beekeeping legal in our area, without any notice or consultation with the local club. Some of the regs are so very bad as far as general beekeeping guidelines. I live in the town of Smithfield, so I was not affected by these new regs, as the town has had a very generous beekeeping reg on the books since about 2002. But I am in charge of leading the cause to get our Board of Supervisors to adopt some less stringent guidelines than the ones they just adopted.

    And here is the correct link to the Albemarle code. http://www.albemarle.org/upload/imag...6_Attach_B.pdf

  5. #4
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    Earlysville, Virginia USA
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    As in Albemarle, Virginia near Charlottesville?
    Yes you have the correct location. Before they changed the code it was illegal in urban areas of the county and the county attorney had issued an order for the beekeeper to move his hives in November! The supervisor had that put on hold while they drafted rules to make it legal. I know they looked at regulations from across the state while drafting them. I would love to know what specifically your dislike about the rules they ended up implementing.
    Last edited by Ryan Williamson; 01-17-2020 at 02:25 PM.

  6. #5
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    Salt Lake City, UT
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Look into what your state laws are regarding beekeeping first. The state laws can offer guidelines for local regulations.

    A few states (mine is one) have a state law that counties, municipalities and municipal like organizations (HOA? - so far to my knowledge no HOA has tried to test it in court here) cannot prohibit beekeeping. They can regulate the number of hives according to property size and hive placement. That suggests to me that you might want to begin with beekeeping clubs and for club members to start with their legislator. With 201 legislators in WI there is a decent chance that at least one of them is a beekeeper.
    Zone 6B

  7. #6
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    Jun 2014
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    Fargo, North Dakota
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    The University of Minnesota has a marvelous honey bee program having many facets, and educational opportunities for hobbyists. One facet is a compilation of Minnesota local ordinances. Here is the link to many local ordinances around your state.

    https://www.beelab.umn.edu/resources...ers/ordinances

  8. #7
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    These are the rules in the town that I live in



    Sec. 7-7-10. - Definitions.

    The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this Article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them below:

    Apiary shall mean a place where bee colonies are kept.

    Bee shall mean any stage of the common domestic honey bee, A pis mellifera species.

    Colony shall mean a hive and its equipment and appurtenances, including bees, comb, honey, pollen and brood.

    Hive shall mean a structure intended for the housing of a bee colony.

    Tract shall mean a contiguous parcel of land under common ownership.

    Undeveloped property shall mean any idle land that is not improved or actually in the process of being improved with residential, commercial, industrial, church, park, school or governmental facilities or other structures or improvements intended for human use or occupancy, and the grounds maintained in association therewith. The term shall be deemed to include property developed exclusively as a street or highway or property used for commercial agricultural purposes.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)

    Sec. 7-7-20. - General purpose; declaration of unlawful conduct.

    (a)

    The general purpose of this Article is to establish certain requirements for sound beekeeping practices within the Town, which are intended to avoid problems which may otherwise be associated with the keeping of bees in populated areas.

    (b)

    Notwithstanding compliance with the various requirements of this Article, it shall be unlawful for any beekeeper to keep any colony or colonies in such a manner or of such disposition as to cause any unhealthy condition, interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of human or animal life of others, or interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of any public property or property of others.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)
    Sec. 7-7-30. - Hives.

    All bee colonies shall be kept in Langstroth-type hives with removable frames, which shall be kept in sound and usable condition.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)

    Sec. 7-7-40. - Fencing of flyways.

    In each instance in which any colony is situated within twenty-five (25) feet of a public or private property line of the tract upon which the apiary is situated, as measured from the nearest point on the hive to the property line, the beekeeper shall establish and maintain a flyway barrier at least six (6) feet in height consisting of a solid wall, fence, dense vegetation or combination thereof that is parallel to the property line and extends ten (10) feet beyond the colony in each direction so that all bees are forced to fly at an elevation of at least six (6) feet above ground level over the property lines in the vicinity of the apiary. It is a defense to prosecution under this Section that the property adjoining the apiary tract in the vicinity of the apiary is undeveloped property for a distance of at least twenty-five (25) feet from the property line of the apiary tract.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)

    Sec. 7-7-50. - Water.

    Each beekeeper shall ensure that a convenient source of water is available at all times to the bees so that the bees will not congregate at swimming pools, bibcocks, pet water bowls, birdbaths or other water sources where they may cause human, bird or domestic pet contact.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)

    Sec. 7-7-60. - General maintenance.

    Each beekeeper shall ensure that no bee comb or other materials that might encourage robbing are left upon the grounds of the apiary site. Upon their removal from the hive, all such materials shall promptly be disposed of in a sealed container or placed within a building or other bee-proof enclosure.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)

    Sec. 7-7-70. - Queen bees.

    In any instance in which a colony exhibits unusually aggressive characteristics by stinging or attempting to sting without due provocation, or exhibits an unusual disposition toward swarming, it shall be the duty of the beekeeper to re-queen the colony. Queens shall be selected from stock bred for gentleness and nonswarming characteristics.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)

    Sec. 7-7-80. - Colony densities.

    (a)

    It shall be unlawful to keep more than the following number of colonies on any lot or tract within the Town, based upon the size or configuration of the lot or tract upon which the apiary is situated:

    (1)

    One-quarter () acre or less tract or lot size - two (2) colonies.

    (2)

    More than one-quarter () acre but less than one-half () acre tract or lot size - four (4) colonies.

    (3)

    More than one-half () acre but less than one (1) acre tract or lot size - six (6) colonies.

    (4)

    One (1) acre or larger tract or lot size - eight (8) colonies.

    (5)

    Regardless of tract or lot size, where all hives are situated at least two hundred (200) feet in any direction from all property lines of the tract or lot on which the apiary is situated, there shall be no limit to the number of colonies.

    (b)

    For each two (2) colonies authorized under the colony densities set forth in Subsection (a) above, there may be maintained upon the same tract or lot one (1) nucleus colony in a hive structure not exceeding one (1) standard nine-and-five-eighths-inch depth, ten-frame hive body, with no supers attached as required from time to time for management of swarms. Each such nucleus colony shall be disposed of or combined with an authorized colony within thirty (30) days after the date it is acquired.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)
    Sec. 7-7-90. - Marking hives; presumption of beekeeping.

    (a)

    In apiaries, the name and telephone number of the beekeeper shall be branded, painted or otherwise clearly marked upon the structure of at least two (2) hives and placed at opposite ends of the apiary. Instead of marking the hives, the beekeeper may conspicuously post a sign setting forth the name and telephone number of the beekeeper. It is a defense to prosecution under this Subsection that a colony is kept on the same tract or lot upon which the owner resides.

    (b)

    Unless marked in accordance with Subsection (a) above, it shall be presumed for purposes of this Article that the beekeeper is the person who owns or otherwise has the present right of possession and control of the tract or lot upon which a hive is situated. The presumption may be rebutted by a written agreement authorizing another person to maintain the colony or colonies upon the tract or lot, setting forth the name, address and telephone number of the other person who is acting as the beekeeper.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)
    Sec. 7-7-100. - Inspection.

    The Town Manager shall have the right to inspect any apiary between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Where practicable, prior notice shall be given to the beekeeper who resides at the apiary or whose name is marked on the hives. Notice need not be in writing under this Section.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)

    Sec. 7-7-110. - Declaration of nuisance.

    (a)

    The keeping by any person of bee colonies in the Town not in strict compliance with this Article is declared to be a menace to the health and safety of the residents of the Town, is hereby declared to be a nuisance and is prohibited. Any bee colony not residing in a hive structure intended for beekeeping, any swarm of bees or any colony residing in a standard or homemade hive which, by virtue of its condition, has obviously been abandoned by the beekeeper, is hereby declared to be a menace to the health and safety of the residents of the Town, is hereby declared to be a nuisance and is prohibited. Any bee colonies kept in the Town not in compliance with this Article or otherwise declared to be a nuisance pursuant to this Section may be summarily destroyed or removed from the Town by the Town Manager. In each instance in which a bee colony is destroyed, all usable components of the hive structure that are not damaged or rendered unhealthy by the destruction of the bees shall, upon the beekeeper's request, be returned to the beekeeper, provided that the beekeeper agrees to bear all transportation expenses for their return.

    (b)

    The Town Manager or the Chief of Police may pursue remedies pursuant to the applicable provisions of Article I of this Chapter with respect to any nuisance declared under this Article.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)
    Sec. 7-7-120. - Enforcement.

    The Town Manager shall be charged with enforcement of this Article.

    (Ord. 2008-1335 2)
    The only thing in the above rules that I think people may object to is the requirement to use langstrom hives. I think the rest of it makes sense and is fairly straight forward and easy to understand.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Williamson View Post
    Yes you have the correct location. Before they changed the code it was illegal in urban areas of the county and the county attorney had issued an order for the beekeeper to move his hives in November! The supervisor had that put on hold while they drafted rules to make it legal. I know they looked at regulations from across the state while drafting them. I would love to know what specifically your dislike about the rules they ended up implementing.
    These are our club's objections to the Albemarle code:
    c. The beehive and all related materials may only be located in the rear yard
    f. The beekeeper shall conspicuously post a sign warning people of the presence of bees. This sign shall include the name and phone number of the beekeeper.
    i....securing unused equipment... from occupancy by swarms. Unused equipment shall be stored in sealed containers, or placed within buildings.
    j. lot size with various colony restrictions
    k. ...temporarily house swarms for no more than 30 days

  10. #9
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    One strategy that should be encouraged is to make a bee area surrounded by a raised planter, planted with dense bamboo. The bees go up and away from neighbors without being noticed. Out of sight, out of mind.

    Compliance with state and county ordinances is encouraged, but if the rules are Neandertal, encourage the rule makers to come to your club's bee festival and get educated by the veterans. Have lots of well-organized paper handouts with plenty of photos that include sane beekeeping practices and ordinances. Go so far even as to run for office with the beekeeping issue as one of your platform planks if you have an unfriendly board or council. That usually wakes them up.

  11. #10
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    Apr 2018
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    These are our club's objections to the Albemarle code:
    c. The beehive and all related materials may only be located in the rear yard
    f. The beekeeper shall conspicuously post a sign warning people of the presence of bees. This sign shall include the name and phone number of the beekeeper.
    s
    I also disagree with the ones above

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    i....securing unused equipment... from occupancy by swarms. Unused equipment shall be stored in sealed containers, or placed within buildings.
    I think this would be better worded as stored inside or in sealed containers to prevent robbing, insect contamination (wax moths), and prevent yellowjacket/wasp feeding


    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    j. lot size with various colony restrictions
    I do not have a problem with this as long as the hive limit is reasonable. I would strongly recommend a lower limit of greater than or equal to 2 hives. I think one of the cities about 2 hours south of me had a 1 hive/residential property rule until recently, and this makes it harder to successfully keep bee hives.

    Without a reasonable limit I could see someone having 40 hives on a 1/4 acre and causing a lot of inconvenience for their neighbors. One of the local pond supply places (with a lot of koi outdoors) had thousands of bees in their tanks and pots. I asked and they said there were 75 hives across the street. I suspect having this many bees around has affected their business a bit.


    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    k. ...temporarily house swarms for no more than 30 day
    You have to define a limit at some point, where does it go from a temporary swarm/hive to permanent?

    Another item that I would push against is giving HOA's the ability to write regulations above what the town/city has. My HOA does not have anything about bees but they do have a clause about not keeping chickens. The town laws has the following clause in the chickens sections, but not in the beekeeping section
    If the parcel upon which the keeping of chicken hens is proposed falls within the jurisdiction of a homeowners' association or similar covenant-based property owners' association, the requirements of this Article shall be considered minimum requirements. Any such association shall have the right to lawfully adopt more stringent chicken-keeping standards, including the outright prohibition of chicken-keeping, for any parcel within the regulatory authority of such association.
    I would like to keep chickens but because of this clause I can not. I have not asked my HOA about bees, but I dont think they have any say about it as long as I am complaint with the above town regulation.

  12. #11
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    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    These are our club's objections to the Albemarle code:
    c. The beehive and all related materials may only be located in the rear yard
    f. The beekeeper shall conspicuously post a sign warning people of the presence of bees. This sign shall include the name and phone number of the beekeeper.
    i....securing unused equipment... from occupancy by swarms. Unused equipment shall be stored in sealed containers, or placed within buildings.
    j. lot size with various colony restrictions
    k. ...temporarily house swarms for no more than 30 days
    And this one "The Town Manager shall have the right to inspect any apiary between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Where practicable, prior notice shall be given to the beekeeper who resides at the apiary or whose name is marked on the hives. Notice need not be in writing under this Section."
    No one has the "right to trespass" IMO

    So what if a recently made queen less split is a bit testy and he goes too close and gets stung, you are then "required" to re queen.
    Does the town manager have the right to go into a home to check on the dobermans and pit bulls, a much bigger public health concern??

    where is the "check with your neighbor, and use common sense" Legislating behavior is the whong trail to go down IMO.
    I understand the need but this has too many gotch yas in it.
    GG

  13. #12
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    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    HOA's are a bunch of crotchety jealous people who could care less about other peoples feelings,wants or desires in life.They design them to what they want only and to hell with everyone else.A hand full wanting to rule everyone else's lives.Any time someone does something you will have one of them bitching and threatening legal action.If you ever plan to move to one of those areas think out your future and just what you might want to do or whatever you might need to do in your future on your own property.I dont live in a HOA area but I know people who do and are very unhappy with it.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper1d View Post
    HOA's are a bunch of crotchety jealous people who could care less about other peoples feelings,wants or desires in life.They design them to what they want only and to hell with everyone else.A hand full wanting to rule everyone else's lives.Any time someone does something you will have one of them bitching and threatening legal action.If you ever plan to move to one of those areas think out your future and just what you might want to do or whatever you might need to do in your future on your own property.I dont live in a HOA area but I know people who do and are very unhappy with it.
    PLUS 1 I read several HOA "contracts" most had a clause somewhat "these rules are subject to change", and you still must comply
    I finally took then off the list of options and quit even looking at them. too much other folks noses in your business

  15. #14
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by elmer_fud View Post
    These are the rules in the town that I live in





    The only thing in the above rules that I think people may object to is the requirement to use langstrom hives. I think the rest of it makes sense and is fairly straight forward and easy to understand.
    Under that section about the water source how are you going to keep bees from other water sources.I have an 800 acre lake for a back yard here about only 40 feet from where hives are but they will still go to buckets and chicken watering troughs here.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper1d View Post
    Under that section about the water source how are you going to keep bees from other water sources.I have an 800 acre lake for a back yard here about only 40 feet from where hives are but they will still go to buckets and chicken watering troughs here.
    I think that one is based on the fact that we are in an arid climate. There are not many natural water sources in the area and I think this is intended to keep bees from bothering neighbors by going after dripping faucets, hot tubs, ect. During the summer we can go a month plus without any rain so there is not much water easily available when the bees need it most if a beekeeper does not provide a water source.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper1d View Post
    HOA's are a bunch of crotchety jealous people who could care less about other peoples feelings,wants or desires in life.They design them to what they want only and to hell with everyone else.A hand full wanting to rule everyone else's lives.Any time someone does something you will have one of them bitching and threatening legal action.If you ever plan to move to one of those areas think out your future and just what you might want to do or whatever you might need to do in your future on your own property.I dont live in a HOA area but I know people who do and are very unhappy with it.
    Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Tango HOA's!!!

  18. #17
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Goose View Post
    And this one "The Town Manager shall have the right to inspect any apiary between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Where practicable, prior notice shall be given to the beekeeper who resides at the apiary or whose name is marked on the hives. Notice need not be in writing under this Section."
    No one has the "right to trespass" IMO

    So what if a recently made queen less split is a bit testy and he goes too close and gets stung, you are then "required" to re queen.
    Does the town manager have the right to go into a home to check on the dobermans and pit bulls, a much bigger public health concern??

    where is the "check with your neighbor, and use common sense" Legislating behavior is the whong trail to go down IMO.
    I understand the need but this has too many gotch yas in it.
    GG
    That makes sense. Where I am at there are not any laws/requirements for registering beehives so I suspect the town that I am in doesn't actually know that I have beehives. I also have not heard of the town I am in actually giving anyone a hard time. I know you are supposed to get a permit for chickens, but a permit is not required for dogs/cats/bees/other common pets.

    I am more concerned that a utility company employee may go into my back yard without contacting me. I know the power/gas/telephone/cable company techs go into back yards to access boxes, and I don't think they always contact the residents before doing this.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: beekeeping within city limits

    Quote Originally Posted by snapper1d View Post
    HOA's are a bunch of crotchety jealous people who could care less about other peoples feelings,wants or desires in life.They design them to what they want only and to hell with everyone else.A hand full wanting to rule everyone else's lives.Any time someone does something you will have one of them bitching and threatening legal action.If you ever plan to move to one of those areas think out your future and just what you might want to do or whatever you might need to do in your future on your own property.I dont live in a HOA area but I know people who do and are very unhappy with it.
    I am so glad that the HOA in my neighborhood doesn't have much authority and isn't very strict. They have tried to do stupid stuff a few times and ended up with a lot of the residents showing up at the yearly meeting and shutting them down. They rarely seem to enforce some of the rules (trailers, trashcans behind fences) so I am not to concerned about them right now.

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