Louisville has become more friendly to beekeeping, thanks to efforts to save bees. (photo by kosolovskyy)

The City of Louisville loosens restrictions on beekeeping

By Lisa Truesdale

About 10 years ago, Shawn, a Louisville resident, wanted to add beehives to his backyard, but he wasn’t keen on breaking the law to do it, as residential hives were illegal in Louisville city limits.

Since 2006, public sentiments had been rising on behalf of bees, due to the collapse of pollinator populations across the country. So Shawn (his last name withheld at his request), a number of other beekeeper-wannabes and a handful of commercial beekeepers banded together to petition the city council members to allow hives.

They were successful. In December 2009, hives were approved in both residential and agricultural zones, though guidelines restricted the number of hives and their minimum setback from the property line. Residents were also cautioned against using neonicotinoids, which were already banned on city properties.

A few years later, after learning all he could from other beekeepers, Shawn added three hives to his backyard, and says he’s been enjoying gorgeous flowers and an abundance of honey (“more than I could ever eat or give away”). He has shared his knowledge with five other new beekeepers, helping them add hives to their own yards.

On Feb. 6, 2018, again influenced by beekeeping advocates, Louisville further amended its beekeeping regulations.

Hives are now permitted in all zoning districts

Hives are now permitted in all zoning districts, even those in more populated areas. All hives also must be registered with the city, though the registration is free, say Kristin Dean, principal planner for the city of Louisville. “We just want to make sure that we have contact information in case there are any nuisance issues, and so we can better track the number and location of the hives in the city.”

Tom Theobold, owner of Niwot Honey Farm and a Boulder County beekeeper for 40 years, says that when the flowers bloom, bees don’t bother people. “They are basically good neighbors in the hands of a good beekeeper, and we [beekeeping associations] have done everything we can to give newbie beekeepers a good start.”

For his part, Shawn works hard to make sure that he and his bees are good neighbors. “I welcomed some new neighbors recently by taking them a gift of honey and telling them all about my hives,” he says. “I explained that they’d probably just hear them and never see them, unless they had flowers in their yard.”

The new amendments to the city’s regulations now allow hives at the Louisville Community Gardens, 1108 Lincoln St., though Shawn says they might not be needed because bees fly far to find flowers. “A friend of mine lives across the street from the community gardens. Apparently, his bees were flying over there all last season to pollinate the plants, and the gardeners there kept thanking him for how incredible their gardens looked.”

Interested in Beekeeping?

(bee illustration by AngryBrush)

Find out your city’s specific ordinances (keep in mind that some HOA regulations prohibit hives), then check these resources:
Boulder County Beekeepers, www.bouldercountybeekeepers.org
Colorado Beekeepers Association, www.coloradobeekeepers.org
National Pollinator Week (June 18-24), www.pollinator.org

Classes:
BackYardHive, www.backyardhive.com
Growing Gardens, www.growinggardens.org
Harlequin’s Gardens, www.harlequinsgardens.com (also sells beekeeping supplies) Highland Honey, www.highlandbees.com
Lyons Farmette, www.lyonsfarmette.com