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Butte's bees and beekeepers celebrate new ordinance allowing hives in city limits

Requirements for hobby beekeeping include registering hives with the city and the state.
Beekeeping is now legal in Butte's city limits
Posted at 8:10 AM, Feb 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-26 12:43:07-05

BUTTE — Bees and their beekeepers are buzzing with excitement after getting some good news on Jan. 5, 2024 after Butte's Council of Commissioners passed an ordinance allowing for hobby beekeeping in Butte city limits.

"We just are charmed by them. You know, they’re so much fun to take care of and to learn about. They are probably the most fascinating insect that there is on the planet," Scott Seintfeldt, president of the Western Apicultural Society and owner of Bald Mountain Apiary located south of Butte.

Steinfeldt is a co-founder and one of 30 members of a beekeeping club that worked with city officials to update an ordinance established in 1977 that made beekeeping in Butte city limits illegal.

"It’s gonna recognize the fact that somebody can have a bee colony, you know, and that they can care for them and be legal in doing that," says Steinfeldt.

Steinfeldt says the new ordinance marries the interests of the county with the interests of the state which recognizes bees as a form of agriculture—a crucial piece to our food production, both nationally and locally.

"Bees are critical. You know, if the bee population went away, about 35 percent of our food sources would go away with it," says Steinfeldt.

But food production aside, Steinfeldt says Butte gardeners will likely get a boost from a neighborhood apiary.

"What it does then is it enhances the gardens and the flowers," says Steinfeldt. "Having bees in Butte-Silver Bow County is going to improve the pollination."

He shares a story of a man in Butte who has had fruit trees in his yard for decades and after introducing a hive the man reported that his fruit trees finally had a banner year and all thanks to the mighty little bee colony.

Requirements for hobby beekeeping include registering hives with the city and the state, which also gives beekeepers access to information that can protect their bees from disease or infections that spread like diseases that run through human populations.

Another requirement for keeping bees is having the proper space for apiaries and that includes adequate fencing. Access to fresh water is also listed in the ordinance and, perhaps the most important stipulation is that hobby beekeepers cannot have hives if they live next to neighbors who have documented allergies to bees.

Anyone interested in becoming a beekeeper can learn more about the little insects at meetings held at the Butte-Silver Bow County Library on the second Tuesday of the month by Butte's Beekeepers Club.