Beekeeping ordinance moves towards hearing

What began as a request by a citizen beekeeper for an updated ordinance will be the subject of a public hearing at the first Enterprise City Council meeting in November.

An ordinance allowing the keeping of certain honeybees in certain zoning districts in the city of Enterprise, introduced at the city council meeting Oct. 5, will be discussed and considered at the city council meeting Nov. 2.

A request by Alabama Beekeepers Association member Richard Woodham to the council at the meeting June 1 is what began the dialogue. At that meeting, he told the council that currently Enterprise has an ordinance prohibiting cultivating honey bees in the city limits unless the area is zoned for agriculture. There is currently some allowance for short term situations to include 4-H projects.

The Wiregrass Beekeepers Association has written guidelines to have bees in the city limits of Dothan, Woodham told the council at that time. They would like to do the same with the city of Enterprise. “As a beekeeper I would not recommend allowing honey bees in the city without the appropriate guideline,” he added.

At the June 1 meeting Enterprise City Council President Turner Townsend said that review of a city ordinance prohibiting honey beekeeping and honey harvesting within city limits should be a topic of further discussion due to the “evolving trend of urban farming and beekeeping.”

Woodham said that as part of educating the public about the function and importance of bees he speaks to interested local groups and civic clubs about the environmental and economic impact of honey bees which are responsible for pollinating one third of all the food eaten. Promoting beekeeping in the city will have a positive impact on the local economy, he added.

Since that meeting in June, Woodham has worked with the city’s engineering department to help draft a proposed ordinance that would be a possible fit for the city.

In the proposed ordinance, keeping of certain honey bees will be allowed in certain zoning areas and beekeepers with existing apiaries—a place where bees are kept or a collection of honey bee colonies— within the city’s corporate limits will have 60 days from the adoption date of the ordinance to obtain conditional use approval.

Beekeepers are required under the ordinance to keep “only strains of known European origins to comprise colonies of honey bees located within the city limits. Under no circumstances shall any other type or species of bees be kept.”

Under the ordinance, beekeepers shall only establish and maintain apiaries in districts zoned agricultural or R-100, which is a single family residential lot that is at least 100 feet by 100 feet.

Bees may not be kept within 100 feet of all neighboring residences and 300 feet of any school, church, hospital, public building, park, playground or body of water, according to the ordinance.

No colonies of bees can be kept within 25 feet of adjoining public or private property boundaries and colonies are required to be placed behind a solid fence that is at least six feet in height that is parallel to the property line and extends at least six feet beyond the colony in each direction.

Beekeepers will not be allowed to commercially sell or offer for sale honey from any R-100 zones without applying for a home occupation in accordance with the city’s zoning ordinances. Beekeepers will also be required to maintain signage on their property clearly visible from the public right of way fronting the property where bees are kept stating that “Honey bees kept outdoors here.”

The next meeting of the Enterprise City Council is Oct. 19 in the Enterprise City Council Chambers at Enterprise City Hall. A work session begins at 5 p.m. A voting meeting is at 6 p.m. Both meetings are open to the public.

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