Altoona City Council approves beekeeping ordinance

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU)- A vote Thursday night in Altoona will regulate beekeeping in the city, but the decision wasn't reached without serious conversation by the City Council.

Those from both sides of the issue were at City Hall Thursday night. Some call beekeeping a harmless hobby. While others say it's dangerous for the community.

The city ultimately decided to set regulations allowing a limited number of hives to be placed in city lots.
Eau Claire beekeeper Drew Kaiser says urban beekeeping is meant to be a hobby, not a large scale operation.

“When we are talking about beekeeping in an urban setting it's definitely a hobby not a commercial level of beekeeping,” Kaiser said.

There were several concerns voiced by the public and city council members in attendance over severe allergic reactions to bee stings.

“The problem we have is every time someone gets stung they want to blame it on the honeybee. The honeybee is different by a hornet,” John Spate with the Wisconsin Honey Producers said.

Under the new regulations, 70% of neighbors will need to give written consent to have a hive. Beekeepers will also need to have a water source nearby for the bees as well as a fly-away zone.

Also up for discussion at the City Council meeting was a change to the city's smoking ordinance. Councilmembers discussed adding e-cigarettes to the city’s current smoking ordinance. That would ban them at places like bars and restaurants where you can't smoke regular cigarettes. The city ultimately decided to put that bill on hold because of a bill up for discussion right now in the state senate.

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