ANDERSON – Community Hospital Anderson and Madison County obtained a variance that will allow the keeping of honey bees inside the Anderson city limits.
The Anderson Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve the requested variance from provisions of a city ordinance passed in 1939 prohibiting beekeeping.
The Anderson Municipal Development Department recommended approval of the variance because the three beehives will be a minimum of 300 feet from the nearest residence.
Tim Stires, deputy director of the Municipal Development Department, said the three bee hives will be in a separate fenced-in area inside the two-acre community vegetable farm, which also is fenced.
Stires said the community farm wanted to introduce the honey bees to help pollinate the farm crops in the future.
He said the beehives will not be put into place until next April.
Christine Davies, farm project coordinator for Community Hospital, said that the bees will hopefully increase the yields of cucumbers and squash.
She said this year the farm produced 1,000 pounds of cucumbers and about 25 percent had to be disposed of because of the lack of pollination.
Davies said experts will be employed to oversee the beehives and they will respond to any problems at the hives.
BZA member Greg Spencer said the Plan Commission did extensive research on beekeeping in the past.
“Anderson is one of the last cities to allow beekeeping,” Spencer said. “Indianapolis allows it and there are rooftop hives in New York City.
“The ordinance will be changed,” Spencer said. “It’s inevitable. Our ordinance is outdated. This is a great precedent for us to set.”
There was no opposition to the requested variance.