Officials mull over beekeeping licensing
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — Public Protection officials discussed fine-tuning the rules and requirements for obtaining a honey beekeeping license on Monday night.
Beekeeping can heed positive benefits, including pollination and homemade honey. While anyone can make the jump to beekeeping, it’s usually a labor of love that could cost upwards to $1,000 for equipment and maintenance.
With over a half-an-hour of public comments and concerned ‘what if’ scenarios, many points from different sides were brought into the discussion. This includes the potential use of signage, if an annual inspection from an expert would be required, and how this could affect those allergic to bees. It was also recommended by some that the license fee should be higher than $10, though it was pointed out that this vaguely mirrors similar fees across the state.
“I think we’re getting way too regulatory with these bees,” said District 9 Alder Mary McComb. “I don’t think we need inspections — we don’t do inspections for chickens or dogs…”
“Beekeeping is complicated. I don’t think there are any fly-by-night beekeepers; it sounds far too complex. …let’s calm down about these bees…” said McComb.
While unofficial, members outlined potential guidelines mentioned in the Public Protection meeting agenda:
1. No hive shall exceed twenty (20) cubic feet in volume.
2. No hive shall be located closer than three (3) feet from any property line.
3. No hive shall be located closer than ten (10) feet from a public sidewalk or twenty-five
(25) feet from a principal building on an abutting lot.
4. A constant supply of water shall be provided for all hives.
5. A flyway barrier at least six (6) feet in height shall shield any part of a property line that
is within twenty-five (25) feet of a hive. The flyway barrier shall consist of a wall,
fence, dense vegetation or a combination thereof and it shall be positioned to transect
both legs of a triangle extending from an apex at the hive to each end point of the part of
the property line to be shielded.
This includes a $10 license fee, as well as notification to surrounding neighbors as a courtesy. Honeybees can be kept on single-family or two-family residential lots. If the property is leased, they must have the consent of the property owner.
“I don’t want to make it overly regulatory. I want to make this as easy as possible for the people that want to invest time and money to do this.” said District 7 Alder Mary Kneebone.
District 10 Alder Mike Phillips remained skeptical on the ease of the guidelines, and believes more should be done, including potential signage and a higher license fee.
“Sixty to seventy people die a year due to bee stings; tens of thousands of people need medical treatment when they’re stung by a bee — just for your information.” said Phillps to fellow members.
However, many of these guidelines could change as committee members could potentially make tweaks to them before presenting them to council, either by this month or next.