CITY OF BROOKFIELD - The buzz is back.
Last summer a number of city of Brookfield residents were joined by other supporters from the southeastern Wisconsin area in attempting to lobby city officials to approve an ordinance that would allow residential beekeeping.
Over seven months later, the city has drafted an ordinance, but the time between last August when the legislative & licensing committee showed strong support for the idea and a potential ordinance being voted on has some residents feeling stung.
"We are all pretty disappointed in our current city leadership," Anne King said.
Last year King was forced to move her bees out of the community after the city inspection department received a complaint and advised her that residential beekeeping is not currently allowed.
King has joined with a number of other local beekeepers including Scott Offord in offering to provide information and examples of other communities' beekeeping ordinances to help the city's process.
"From what I've seen so far, the city has not made any efforts to reach out to any local beekeeping experts in their ordinance drafting process thus far," Offord said.
City of Brookfield assistant attorney Julie Aquavia noted that she and her colleagues have made use of the materials provided to them by residents.
"They provided a lot of good information to the committee and some samples ordinances," Aquavia said.
Ordinances that Brookfield has looked at as examples include those of the cities of Wauwatosa and Milwaukee and the village of Shorewood.
Aquavia noted that the legislative & licensing committee should see the topic of beekeeping return to its agenda in the near future.
"I have a draft ordinance and a draft memo. It is circulating internally here to staff and hopefully we'll be able to bring it to the committee in the next month or two," Aquavia said. "I'm not sure how quick we can get it there, but we are working and moving forward on it."
City officials have noted on multiple occasions during the winter that the beekeeping ordinance was unfortunately pushed to the back burner as staff were forced to devote their time to other tasks.
"You may have time to work on something this week, but then you've got more immediate things the next week," Aquavia said. "We can't always work on it straight through."
Offord and King said that they and their peers have been particularly concerned of late due to the fact that bees are regularly ordered months ago.
"There is a sense of urgency growing in the beekeeper community this month, as we are all wondering if we'll be allowed to practice our hobby in the comfort of our backyards or if we'll have the inconvenience of depending on our friends in other pro-beekeeping communities," Offord said. "Local beekeepers are beginning to wonder if they should cancel their orders for bees they had placed in winter."
Bees ordered during the winter are typically delivered in April or May and Offord said he is aware of multiple Brookfield beekeepers who intend to maintain their hives in the city even if an ordinance is not approved on time.
Residents who are reported to the city are subject to being fined if they do not remove the violation that contrasts with the municipal code.