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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I went to the City Council meeting in our city tonight. Beekeeping in town has been on the agenda for a couple of months, and questions keep coming up. Tonight's quandary was about how big a city lot should be in order to have a hive on the property. It was originally proposed that a city lot must be at least 10,000 square feet. After some discussion it was voted on and lowered to 5,000 square feet, but that is still in question by several and may change.

My comment to the Council was that the bees had no limitation because they go out and forage, but any restrictions would be about people. They wanted to know, as a beekeeper, what I thought sounded reasonable. I could only answer that my hope was not to limit the opportunity to have an informed public about honey bees. If the only lots that can have bees are 10,000 sq. ft., it could limit the opportunity for an education value that people need to have regarding honey bees.

Anyway, they were asking for some information that would help them know what is appropriate. Many large cities don't even have a restriction on lot size, but does anyone have some factual information that we can offer the Council? What is a socially appropriate amount of room for people to accept a hive?
 

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My opinion is that 'lot size' is not relevant, but a requirement that hives be located a minimum 'set-back' distance from the property line is relevant.

Of course, whatever minimum distance is set as the standard 'set-back' will have a bigger impact on placing hives on small lots than larger lots. Depending on the set-back required, on some smaller lots (or odd shaped lots) it may not be possible to legally locate hives.

Set-backs are common in zoning issues. Where I am there are required set-backs from property lines for placement of a residence, and also for any part of a septic drain field. Outbuildings in a R-1 (residential) zone also have a setback, but barns in an A-1 (farm) zoned property have no required setback.
 

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agree that setbacks are more appropriate than lot size. alternatively i've also seen "distance to neighboring dwellings" restrictions. i don't love either because it would have kept me from becoming a beekeeper. my lot is 1400 s.f., 20 ft. wide.
 

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I would do a little research. In Seattle here is the law.

Title 23 – Land Use Code

Subtitle IV – Land Use Regulations

Division 2 – Authorized Uses and Development Standards

Chapter 23.45 – Residential, Multi-Family Definition in the Seattle Municiple Code 23.45.150 – Beekeeping.

No more than four (4) hives, each with only one (1) swarm, shall be kept on lots of less than ten thousand (10,000) square feet. B. Hives shall not be located within twenty-five (25) feet of any property line except when located eight (8) feet or more above the grade immediately adjacent to the subject lot or when situated less than eight (8) feet above the adjacent existing grade and behind a solid fence or hedge six (6) feet high, parallel to any property line within twenty-five (25) feet of a hive and extending at least twenty-five (25) feet beyond the hive in both directions.

So Basically 4 colonies under 10k square feet, 25' set back from property lines, unless they are 8 feet above the grade of the next lot or they have a 6ft solid fence or or hedge that extends 25 feet in both directions. I think that is pretty reasonable.
 

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My locale is 5 feet from any property line, provided the bees have a 6 ft obstruction or on an elevation to force them to fly above incidental traffic. Also recommended hive entrances face away from walkways and roads, to avoid collisions with passsersby.
Limited to 4 hives of 5 boxes each. There are no square footage requirements.
 

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Honestly maybe its better to restrict to boxes rather then # of colonies. What if you are queen rearing which I like to do at the house so I can watch and make sure to fix any issues like ants. If you had 1 4-way queen castle it would max you out under the Seattle Law. Also what happens if you keep 4 colonies at the house and you happen to catch a swarm I honestly think the # of colonies doesn't matter as much as having an obstruction so they avoid flight path. I have 6ft cinderblock fences with 2 feet of hedge above that. Neighbor never knew until the orkin guy told him about my colonies and wanted to know if he had any problems with bees. Other neighbors don't care or notice I try to slip them a small jar a honey every couple of months.










I would do a little research. In Seattle here is the law.

Title 23 – Land Use Code

Subtitle IV – Land Use Regulations

Division 2 – Authorized Uses and Development Standards

Chapter 23.45 – Residential, Multi-Family Definition in the Seattle Municiple Code 23.45.150 – Beekeeping.

No more than four (4) hives, each with only one (1) swarm, shall be kept on lots of less than ten thousand (10,000) square feet. B. Hives shall not be located within twenty-five (25) feet of any property line except when located eight (8) feet or more above the grade immediately adjacent to the subject lot or when situated less than eight (8) feet above the adjacent existing grade and behind a solid fence or hedge six (6) feet high, parallel to any property line within twenty-five (25) feet of a hive and extending at least twenty-five (25) feet beyond the hive in both directions.

So Basically 4 colonies under 10k square feet, 25' set back from property lines, unless they are 8 feet above the grade of the next lot or they have a 6ft solid fence or or hedge that extends 25 feet in both directions. I think that is pretty reasonable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you folks for responding to this post. There is a setback established, as the hive must be in the back yard; not in front of the house.

Does anyone want to make an educated guess as to a socially appropriate amount of room for people to accept a hive? I know there is probably no formal study, but your experience and opinion may help.
 

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I wouldn't go down this path of making a decision based on "socially appropriate" at all.... it is a dark hole in the ground with yellow jackets.

Insect Honeybee Eumenidae Bee Megachilidae
 

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One of our inspectors had his hives in the city, while it is not Cleveland it is a busy city.he had two lots which basically was half a city block right near the hospital. He o my had about a hundred hives. Just my 2 cents.
 

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I am a planning and zoning consultant and the answer to your question is very complex and depends on the other ordinances that are in effect in your community. For example certain communities have a nuisance ordinance that trumps the bee or apiary ordinance and properties regardless of size can be required to remove their hives if they are problematic to neighbors .Although I am a beekeeper I do not favor small lots. There are many uses in zoning that have restrictions and/or are precluded by law.Although everyone on this forum enjoys beekeeping that does not imply that hives should be a permitted use on every property.The basis of zoning is to protect public health and safety and bees are not always favored by everyone. The zoning question you pose is best answered in most instances by what is determined to be a reasonable use.There is no accepted standard and every community is different...... none the less I favor larger lots. In some states laws pertaining to agricultural use supersede local zoning but here in Illinois for example there is a minimum requirement of 5 acres.
 

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there's the rub. if beekeeping is practiced responsibly, lot size has very little to do with it. the bees don't care. the seattle code addresses the issue and was obviously written with input from beekeepers.

it's just difficult to codify "responsibly."

us small-lotted people are used to dealing with our neighbors's nuisances: parties, noise, dogs (statistically more dangerous than bees), misbehaved children... we don't limit those to large lots only.
 

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I keep someo f my hives on a fairly small city lot. I have a six-foot privacy fence around m backyard where the hives are located. Along with a few trees the bees leave the yard well above head height. My next door neighbors, rental property now, have lived there for about 8 months before noticing I had beehives. They only noticed them when a guest was up against the fence smoking.

I have only had one problem with a neighbor and that was bees going to his pool late in the summer. I have water in the backyard but the chlorinated pool water was a greater attraction. I moved the hives until the pool season ended.

Tom
 

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>us small-lotted people are used to dealing with our neighbors's nuisances: parties, noise, dogs (statistically more dangerous than bees), misbehaved children... we don't limit those to large lots only.

:) good comparison. A nuisance is a nuisance. A lack of nuisance is a lack of nuisance. Why pick on bees?
 

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I put my hive entrances right against the fence after talking with my neighbor, it makes the bees to go straight up instead of buzzing around at human level.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Tacomabees;

The council went down that road already, we are just trying to provide a sensible answer to their quandary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Woodedareas;
Thank you so much for you information. Yes, the situation is more about modifying the nuisance ordinance to accommodate bees and yet protect the public and their concerns. You mentioned;
The zoning question you pose is best answered in most instances by what is determined to be a reasonable use. There is no accepted standard and every community is different......
I think we are headed in that direction. Thank you.
 

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I was talking to another beekeeper in my town. About 4 years ago we had a massive ice storm that damaged bunches of 100 plus year old trees. Many of those trees have bees and arethrowing swarms regularly. I live outside city limits and there are no bee restrictions that I'm aware inside the city limits. What's funny is these bees are30-50 feet into the air and unless you are a beekeeper they aren't even noticed. I am guessing in the town of 5000 there are anywhere between 50- 75 bee trees maybe more. Also several trees have been cut because of thhe ice storm that have evidence of bees having lived there
 

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IMO setbacks aren't important if you live in an area that has 6' solid wood fences, as most CA neighborhoods do. If not 10' with entrance facing you're own property would be fine.
 
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