By: Drew Kaiser, protector, fan and keeper of all things bee!
The first major project to come from the Advisory Commission on Sustainability has been approved by the Eau Claire City Council. On Tuesday, February 10, the council voted unanimously (10-0) in favor of an ordinance that details a system for beekeeping, which had previously been deemed illegal via the city’s nuisance ordinance. The new law requires would-be beekeepers to obtain a permit from the City-County Health Department before starting a home apiary. A yearly fee was set at $45 and a first year pre-inspection fee, whichhas yet to be set, is estimated to be between $60-$100. The unanimous support was due largely to rigorous criteria needed to obtain a permit. Folks interested in keeping bees will be required to abide setbacks and create “fly way barriers” when a hive is located closer than 25 feet to a property line. A flyway barrier may be a fence ordense vegetation that directs the foragers’ flight path over 6 feet The total number of colonies allowed is determined by the proposed lot’s size; from two colonies on a half acre or less, up to 8 colonies on a property over one acre. In most cases at least 80 percent of neighbors within 100 feet of property lines will need to give consent for an apiary. Other important aspects include providing a water source for the bees, keeping hives out of view from sidewalk and streets, and conspicuously posting a sign including the words “HONEY BEE HIVE”, the beekeeper’s name and telephone number which can be clearly readable at twenty-five feetfrom the hives.The Health Department and Advisory Commission on Sustainability are currently developing materials to aid applicants in the process. The hope is to start accepting applications in March for the coming season. If you’re interested in learning more about beekeeping, consider attending a meeting of the Chippewa Valley Beekeepers Association. A meeting schedule, contacts and more information can be found at: http://chippewavalleybeekeepers.com