Beekeeping in the City

Some may be surprised to learn that beekeeping is not only allowed in most cities, but is a growing trend.  More and more people are interested in beekeeping as either a hobby or as an entrepreneurial venture.

Backyard beekeeping is legal (and encouraged) in the city limits of Omaha.  There are several beekeepers in the city, and many of the organizations that work with urban agriculture and community gardens in the city have beehives and provide education for those interested.

In Omaha, the current rule is that bees can be kept in enclosed places on private property.  The Health Department regulates and inspects beekeeping, and a permit is required.  The permit application is online here.  For additional information about what’s allowed with beekeeping, contact the Douglas County Health Center at (402) 444-7481.  You may be subject to additional regulations or restrictions if you live in a Home Owners Association.

Other municipalities may have other rules.  Be sure to contact city hall or your health department for rules, regulations, and registrations you need to know about.

If your seriously interested in beekeeping, you should consider connecting with or joining the Omaha Bee Club.  The bee club is composed of beekeepers and those who are interested in starting beekeeping.  They offer both educational opportunities and one-on-one advice and mentoring for those who want to start beekeeping.

Back in September, my Intro to Urban Agriculture class visited the Omaha Bee Club apiary located in the Bohemian Cemetery (52nd and Center St).  Club president Lynn Danzer shared some bee and beekeeping basics (check out the basic facts at the Bee Club’s website).  Students also learned about pollinator plants from fellow GROBigRed?Nebraska Extension team member Scott Evans.

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In addition to learning about the club’s beekeeping at the cemetery, the class got to see a colony that was collected from a tree branch (growing on the outside of the branch).  The club is trying to overwinter the hive in a box.  Since honeybees are not a native species, they don’t survive well “in nature” outside of a beekeeper’s hive.  These would definitely not have survived the winter on the outside of a tree branch.

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So if you’ve ever thought about beekeeping or want to get started.  Check out the resources available and connect with the Omaha Bee Club (or your local bee club).  The Getting Started in Beekeeping NebGuide for info on getting started.

 

John Porter
Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator at Nebraska Extension
John Porter is the Urban Ag Program Coordinator for Nebraska Extension and Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, serving both as an extension educator and professor of urban agriculture. He specializes in urban agriculture and horticulture, especially in the areas of vegetable and fruit production for home gardens and urban farms and edible landscaping.
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