City council OKs modified beekeeping ordinance


GREENFIELD — Greenfield residents who plan to practice beekeeping first have to register with the city, according to a newly enacted ordinance.

The Greenfield City Council last week approved the beekeeping ordinance and registration form, voting 5-2; Councilwoman Keely Butrum and Councilman Mitch Pendlum voted against the measure.

An Indiana law that began during the summer says municipalities in the state cannot ban beekeeping. Greenfield used to restrict the practice within city limits, so the council chose to craft an ordinance that doesn’t prohibit beekeeping but regulates certain aspects, such as the number of active bee hives a person can own and the location of the hives on a person’s property. The state statute allows such retrictions.

A subcommittee of three council members — Butrum, Kerry Grass and Dan Riley — and one local beekeeper, Tom Ferguson, met to make language modifications on an original ordinance the city council introduced in September that many local beekeepers criticized for being too strict.

It previously stated that beekeepers must register with the state, successfully complete the state’s beekeeping school and put a sign in their front yard letting other residents know they keep bees. The subcommittee chose to omit those regulations, Butrum said.

The ordinance that passed last week bases the limit of the number of hives a beekeeper can have to the size of the property. For example, a person can have two colonies on a property up to a quarter of an acre and no more than eight colonies for properties of up to one acre. It also states hives must be located behind the house; at least 25 feet from any structure; and at least 10 feet from the property line.

Grass made a motion to amend the registration form attached to the ordinance to be less restrictive in wording. Beekeepers have to only provide their contact information and the number of hives. He said registration is necessary so officials can notify beekeepers if street crews fog for mosquitoes overnight.

Grass said he learned a lot about beekeeping in the subcommittee, including how swarms of bees aren’t prone to aggression. He also agreed with nixing the idea for beekeepers to install signage.

Butrum also made a motion to amend the registration form, but she was voted down, 4-3. She wanted the form to be voluntary rather than mandatory. Butrum, who has been beekeeping outside city limits for the past four years, said she agrees with the rest of the ordinance language.

“I don’t believe people need their government’s permission for this,” Butrum said, calling the registration “totally unnecessary” and “highly unusual.”