Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What you may not know: Urban Beekeeping update

Between holiday week cancellations and light agendas, it's going to be a relatively quiet committee week for the Appleton Common Council. One frequent topic of discussion, however, is due up again:

Board of Health, Wednesday, 7 am

I've written about a resolution calling for the city to expand the allowed zonings for urban beekeeping in June, July and August and now the debate continues into September, when the Board of Health will be asked again to make a recommendation on the topic on Wednesday morning. They voted 3-1 to approve suggested changes to the city's ordinances on bees at their August meeting, but the matter was referred back to committee by Alderperson Cathy Spears, who wants to have another discussion on the differences between honeybees and mason bees.

Mason bees were discussed in the packet of information provided to board members in advance of their August meeting (and now, additionally, their September meeting) and, while they do provide some of the pollination benefits of honeybees, they produce very limited honey and no wax.

Anyone wanting to review the proposed ordinance language can do so via the third attachment on this page. Here are some highlights, for those not interested in the full review:

  • Beekeepers must have an annual permit from the Health Department, and must also have formal education and/or sufficient experience as a beekeeper.
  • Beekeepers must own and reside on the property where they intend to keep bees.
  • Beekeepers are limited to two hives on properties under half an acre, a limitation that will include nearly every single family home in the city.
  • Any property owners within 200 feet of a proposed hive will be notified and can object to the proposal, which would lead to the application being denied. The applicant can appeal a denial to the Board of Health.
  • Bees must be selected from "stock bred for gentleness and non-swarming characteristics," and any colony found to be aggressive shall be destroyed or re-queened.
Assuming the Board of Health takes action on this item on Wednesday, their recommendation will come before the full council on Wednesday, September 16.

You can see agendas for all of this week's meetings and the full schedule at the city's Legistar page.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Making the council's activity as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested is part of my goal to make it easier for more people to get involved with issues that matter to them.

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