Ordinance No. 1113
An ordinance to allow for beekeeping within the City of Ypsilanti.

WHEREAS, honey bees are beneficial to mankind and to Michigan in particular, by providing agricultural fruit and vegetable pollination services in tandem with home garden vegetable and fruit production and by furnishing honey, beeswax and other useful products; and,

WHEREAS, Michigan is among the leading states in honey production and honey bee assisted agricultural products throughout the United States and the world; and,

WHEREAS, domestic strains of honey bees have been selectively bred for desirable traits, including gentleness, honey production, reduced swarming, pollination attributes and other characteristics which are desirable to foster and maintain; and,

WHEREAS, gentle strains of honey bees can be maintained within populated areas in reasonable densities to fill ecological niche and exclude unwanted and undesirable races of bees, without causing a nuisance if the honey bees are properly located, carefully managed and maintained.


Section 1—That the finding contained in the preamble of this ordinance is hereby adopted as part of this ordinance.

Section 2—That Chapter 14, Article I of the Code of Ordinances, City of Ypsilanti, Michigan, is hereby amended by adding a new article, which reads as follows:

Definitions: As used in this article, the following words and terms shall have the meanings ascribed in this section unless the context of their usage clearly indicates another meaning:
  1. Apiary—The assembly of one or more colonies of bees at a single location.
  2. Beekeeper—A person who owns or has charge of one or more colonies of bees.
  3. Beekeeping Equipment—Anything used in the operation of an apiary, such as hive bodies, supers, frames, top and bottom boards and extractors.
  4. Colony/Hive—An aggregate of bees consisting principally of workers, but having, when perfect, one queen and at time many drones, including brood, combs, honey and the receptacle inhabited by the bees.
  5. Honey Bee—All life stages of the common domestic honey bee, Apis Mellifera species.
  6. Tract—A contiguous parcel of land under common ownership.
  7. Undeveloped Property—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 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.
Unlawful Conduct:
  1. Purpose—The purpose of this article is to establish certain requirements of sound beekeeping practices, which are intended to avoid problems that may otherwise be associated with the keeping of bees in populated areas.
  2. Other Beekeeping Unlawful—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.
  3. Hive Type—All honey bee colonies shall be kept in hives with movable frames, which shall be kept in sound and usable condition.
  4. Flyways—In each instance in which any colony is situated within 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 6 feet in the height consisting of a solid wall, fence, dense vegetation or combination thereof that is parallel to the property line and extends 10 feet beyond the colony in each direction so that all bees are forced to fly at an elevation of at least 6 feet above ground level over the property lines in the vicinity of the apiary.
  5. Water—Each beekeeper shall ensure that a convenient source of water is available to the bees at all times during the year so that the bees will not congregate at swimming pools, pet watering bowls, bird baths or other water sources where they may cause human, bird or domestic pet contact.
  6. General Maintenance—Each beekeeper shall ensure that no bee comb or other materials 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.
  7. Queens—In any instance in which a colony exhibits unusual 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 promptly re-queen the colony with another queen. Queens shall be selected from European stock bred for gentleness and non-swarming characteristics.
  8. Colony Density—
a. It shall be unlawful to keep more than 2 colonies on any tract within the city.
b. In addition to State of Michigan Apiary Inspection Law regarding identification of honey bee hives, the beekeeper shall conspicuously post a sign setting forth his/her name and phone number. It is a defense against prosecution under this subsection that a colony is kept upon the same tract upon which the owner resides.
c. Unless marked in accordance with subsection (a), it shall be presumed for the purposes of this article that the beekeeper is the person or persons who own or otherwise have the present right of possession and control of the tract upon which a hive or hives are situated. The presumption may be rebutted by a written agreement authorizing another person to maintain the colony or colonies upon the tract setting forth the name, address, and telephone number of the other person who is acting as the beekeeper.

9. Compliance

a. Upon receipt of information that any colony situated within the City is not being kept in compliance with this article, the building inspector shall cause an investigation to be conducted. If he/she finds that grounds exist to believe that one or more violations have occurred, he/she shall issue a civil infraction to the beekeepers.
b. A civil infraction citation may be issued to the beekeepers once a day until such time as the bees are destroyed, removed, or the problem is corrected.
c. The provisions of this section shall not prevent the City from destroying bees or a bee colony in the event that there is an immediate need to protect the public safety. Such circumstances will occur when there is (1) a bee colony not residing in a hive structure intended for beekeeping, or (2) a dangerous swarm of bees that poses an immediate risk to the safety of humans or (3) a colony residing in a standard or man-made hive which, by virtue of its condition, has obviously been abandoned by the beekeeper.