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Wausau committee approves urban beekeeping ordinance

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Wausau's public health and safety committee has approved a new ordinance that would allow for beekeeping in the city limits.

The move comes after the Bridge Community Health Clinic's community garden program investigated keeping bees. "We realized it was not legal in Wausau under the current laws, and so we approached the Public Health and Safety Committee to see if they would be interested in changing that." Bridge Community Clinic director Laura Scudiere says the bees will help supplement their existing community garden program. "It's been a really great project, last year we donated half a ton of produce to local hungry families, and the majority of the renters in our garden are low income families from around the area."

Under current city code, bees are classified as 'dangerous animals' according to City Council president Romey Wagner, and that will be changed in the new measure. "I was surprised and encouraged that the people had bees and bee hives that had 60-thousand bees in, that two or three feet away their kids could be playing and honey bees didn't bother them."

Wagner says allowing beekeepers in the city would be a net benefit. "Bees are a benefit to pollinating these gardens and things and the different organizations would be able to pay some of their bills by selling the honey."

The measure would require beekeepers to register with the city and take steps to keep their hives protected from animals with fences. They would also be required to allow the city's humane officer to inspect the hives when the need arises.

The measure now heads to the city council for a final vote.

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