3 Tips on How to Check if Your City Allows Beekeeping

sample beekeeping ordinance city code example

In the USA, municipal governments have laws in place that help regulate activities within its jurisdiction. These laws are sometimes referred to as “municipal code” or more commonly known as “ordinances”. If you are at least somewhat interested in the law of bees and beekeeping or if you are actively trying to figure out how to change your own city’s laws on beekeeping, this article is for you.

The first step in changing your city’s beekeeping ordinance and starting along the path of legalizing beekeeping in your city if to check your to see what your city’s ordinances say.

Tip One

You can call your City and ask them for information on the City’s current stance on beekeeping. Please don’t call 911. Find the phone number for the non-emergency services department of your city instead. It is possible that the City Clerk will have the information you need. The City Clerk serves as a liaison between the public and City Council (board of aldermen / council people). If the Clerk does not know off hand, they will most likely refer you to the proper resource where you can look it up for yourself. Remember where this is. Print it, save the link, save the exact location so you don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for it again later.

Tip Two

Most cities will have their ordinances published online. Some will simply be in PDF format, but a majority will be found in a searchable online database.

how to make beekeeping legal

Example of a City publishing their beekeeping ordinance as a PDF file, link to from their website.

There are various online code hosting services that act as a repository of digital documents that allow the city to meet their legal publishing requirements. The codes published in these online portals usually contain the most accurate and up-to-date information. The City’s website will most likely contain a link to the appropriate documents.

See the animated graphic below for an example of how the City of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin has a link on their website to their searchable online ordinance database on municode.com:

legalizing beekeeping in a city

Example of a City publishing their beekeeping ordinance on the MuniCode website.

Tip Three

Once you find the place where the city stores their ordinances, you’ll want to search for mentions of bees, beekeeping, animals, apiaries or insects. What we’ve found is that if the city prohibits beekeeping, it will most likely be expressly written as such, however, sometimes you’ll have to dig a little deeper. There are a few possibilities that might exist in varying degrees of flexibility or restriction – which you’ll definitely want to study in depth for yourself.

The city’s ordinance might:

  • completely and expressly prohibit beekeeping
  • have no specific mention of beekeeping, but might list bees as being a prohibited
  • not mention anything about bees or beekeeping whatsoever (but actively prohibit beekeeping through the city inspector’s interpretation of the law and enforcement of that city’s “public nuisance” laws)
  • prohibit the keeping of bees on residential property, but make exceptions for public or private educational institutions, research facilities or garden clubs
  • not mention anything about bees or beekeeping whatsoever (and turn a blind eye to it)
  • allow beekeeping, but heavily regulate it
  • allow beekeeping in general, but have a few guidelines to ensure safety and order


  • Gain Access to Our Complete Beekeeping Ordinance Guide Now

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    Included in the guide are email templates you can use when talking with your city officials, example policies that city officials can refer to when writing their ordinances, tips of how to create momentum in your city by gaining public support, a sample press release to get the media interested and the public educated about a pending beekeeping ordinance discussion in their city, and much more.
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Scott Offord
Scott Offord
As an entrepreneur, Scott enjoys identifying and reaching new business markets, growing online communities and partnering with business start-ups. With a strong background in the field of web development, Scott currently focuses on online marketing strategy consulting. In his off time, Scott enjoys running various tech meetup groups. He also spends as much time as possible with his wife, his baby girl and his Great Dane.

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