City council to decide if beekeepers can keep hives in Clarksville

City council to decide if beekeepers can keep hives in Clarksville (Image 1)

Clarksville City Council will be asked to decide whether beehives should be allowed within the city limits during an upcoming meeting.

Elizabeth Hood, who lives in a residential neighborhood, keeps two hives in boxes in her backyard. Last week she was notified that the hives will have to be removed.

“I was told by the head of the building and codes that bees are livestock,” she said.

If bees are considered to be livestock by the City of Clarksville, they must be kept 200 feet from adjoining property. That would affect nearly 150 residential beehives within the city, according to Dr. Charles Cook, vice-president of the area’s Beekeeper’s Association.

“If people follow the best practices of beekeeping, they won’t have any problems, except from uneducated people who are concerned when they don’t have anything to be concerned about,” Cook told News 2.

Hood’s beehives were discovered after a neighbor complained about other code violations.

She was cited for grass that was too high, chickens being kept in the backyard, which violates a city code, and a wood pile from a tree that had been cut down.

Hood told News 2 that the grass has been cut, the tree chopped into firewood and that she had to slaughter her chickens.

However, it’s the possibility of losing her bees that has her upset with the city.

“There’s nothing in the city code that prohibits bees,” she said.

Beehives are not currently banned in Clarksville, but if they are classified as livestock, they would not be allowed except on property with at least 400 feet between adjoining lots.

The state of Tennessee classifies bees in the plant or botanical category, and the state’s apiarist, Mike Studer told News 2 banning beehives would be a mistake as the honeybee helps control the population of more dangerous bees.

Clarksville’s city council will hold a public hearing Thursday night to discuss the classification of bees within the city limits.

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