Eau Claire City Council: Urban Hives Are the Bee's Knees

Tom Giffey

After buzzing over a variety of amendments, the Eau Claire City Council made it clear Feb. 10 that it is sweet on the idea of urban bees, unanimously approving an ordinance to allow beekeeping in the city. The new rules are the culmination of a grassroots effort that included a petition to the city last year by the Eau Claire chapter of Save the Bees as well as a unanimous recommendation from the city’s Advisory Commission on Sustainability. In a summary of the ordinance, the commission waxed poetic about the insects: “Honey bees are of a benefit to humans, and to Wisconsin in particular, by providing agriculture, fruit and garden pollination services (at least a third of all food crops) and by furnishing honey, wax, and other useful products. The honey bee has been designated as the official Wisconsin insect and gentle strains of honey bees can be maintained within populated areas in reasonable densities without causing a nuisance if the bees are properly located and carefully managed and maintained.” Under the ordinance, would-be beekeepers must buy a $45 license, provide detailed diagrams of where their hives will be placed, get written consent from 80 percent of neighbors within 100 feet, and submit to a pre-inspection. All this is meant to ensure that the bees don’t bother the neighbors. Now that the ordinance is passed, you can expect to see hives popping up in the city this spring. Can chicken coops be far behind?