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Neenah considering new beekeeping ordinance

A honey bee (WLUK)

NEENAH (WLUK) -- For some, keeping bees is an enjoyable hobby.

Wayne Gerdts, owner of Honey Bee Ware, said, "To me it's comforting just to watch what they're doing. You just sit back and relax, it's almost as much fun as going fishing."

For this and other reasons, city leaders in Neenah are considering a new ordinance that would allow city residents to become beekeepers.

Marge Bates, City of Neenah Alderperson, said, "There's been a popular trend toward beekeeping in residential areas."

Not to mention, experts say the honeybee population has been rapidly declining.

Kevin Jarek, with UW Extension Outagamie County, said, "Years as recent as 2014, 2015, where we had really tough winters, we saw as much as a 60% hit on some of those populations."

If the beekeeping ordinance were to pass in Neenah, there would be parameters.

Keepers would be allowed one hive for every 5,000 square foot lot... it would have to be fenced in and have its own water supply.

Honeybees are not known as aggressive bees, but they can sting if they feel threatened.

Jarek said, "Be courteous of your neighbors. We do know that there are people who do have moderate or severe reactions to bee stings, so certainly being aware of those potential downfalls."

Bates said any neighbors near a beekeeper's home would be notified.

But they're open to any feedback on the ordinance.

"I'm hoping that we can get a little of both, everybody can understand each other and we can work out some points in this ordinance that would make everybody happy.

The experts say there are many benefits of beekeeping.

Jarek said, "Anything we can do to increase their food source is going to be a good thing as far as their long term sustained survival."

Which they say is good for the bees, plants, animals... and us.

Gerdts said, "It really is a relaxing hobby."

The proposal will be discussed next week at the Public Services Committee.

It is set for March 28th at 7 p.m. at Neenah City Hall.

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