Obtaining a City of Madison Beekeeping License

How to Obtain a City of Madison Beekeeping License

  1. Notify others as required that you will be keeping honey bees on the property.  If you plan to keep honeybees in the City of Madison, it is best to talk to your neighbors ahead of time, and explain the behavior and benefits of beekeeping. Beekeeping in the city should utilize best practices to avoid creating problems for your neighbors. With some planning, beehives can be safely located in close proximity to homes, gardens and other places where people spend recreational time. You will be responsible for monitoring your bees on a regular basis for the health of the hive and to ensure that you have not created a nuisance to others. Limit your beekeeping activities to times when it will not interfere with your neighbors' activities and enjoyment of their property
  • If the property is has multiple dwelling units, notify the property owner and all residents of the property in all dwelling units
  1. Check the zoning district of the property. The zoning district of a property may be found at www.cityofmadison.com/assessor/property/.  Beekeeping regulations vary amongst the zoning districts. (No honeybees may be kept in any manufacturing zoning district, office zoning districts, the C4 zoning district and any commercial zoning district where the use of the property is not exclusively residential. See below for further explanations.)
  2. Complete the Honeybee License Application (PDF) and submit to the City Treasurer's Office.
  • Application
  • License Fee of $10 

    City Treasurer's Office 
    Room 107, City-County Building 
    210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
    Madison, WI  53703-3342 
    TEL: (608) 266-4771

Note: Honeybee licenses must be obtained annually, prior to April 1 of each year, or within 30 days of acquiring honey bees. 

Residential Zoning Districts

  1. Hives may be located only on lots with residential use.
  2. No more than six (6) hives may be located on a lot.
  3. No hive shall exceed twenty (20) cubic feet in volume.
  4. No hive shall be located closer than three (3) feet from any property line.
  5. No hive shall be located closer than ten (10) feet from a public sidewalk or twenty-five (25) feet from a principal building on an abutting lot.
  6. A constant supply of water shall be provided for all hives.
  7. A flyway barrier at least six (6) feet in height shall shield any part of a property line that is within twenty-five (25) feet of a hive. The flyway barrier shall consist of a wall, fence, dense vegetation or a combination thereof and it shall be positioned to transect both legs of a triangle extending from an apex at the hive to each end point of the part of the property line to be shielded.
  8. The owner, operator, or tenant obtains a license under Sec. 9.53, MGO.
  9. The applicant for the license notifies all residents of the property and the owner or operator of the property if the applicant is not the owner or operator.

Notification is not required for renewal of a license.

Commercial Zoning District, except DC

Keeping of honeybees, provided that:

  1. Hives may be located only on lots with exclusive residential use.
  2. No more than six (6) hives may be located on a lot.
  3. No hive shall exceed twenty (20) cubic feet in volume.
  4. No hive shall be located closer than three (3) feet from any property line.
  5. No hive shall be located closer than ten (10) feet from a public sidewalk or twenty-five (25) feet from a principal building on an abutting lot.
  6. A constant supply of water shall be provided for all hives.
  7. A flyway barrier at least six (6) feet in height shall shield any part of a property line that is within twenty-five (25) feet of a hive. The flyway barrier shall consist of a wall, fence, dense vegetation or a combination thereof and it shall be positioned to transect both legs of a triangle extending from an apex at the hive to each end point of the part of the property line to be shielded.
  8. The owner, operator, or tenant obtains a license under Sec. 9.53, MGO.
  9. The applicant for the license notifies all residents of the property and the owner or operator of the property if the applicant is not the owner or operator.

Notification is not required for renewal of a license.

Beekeeping is prohibited on mixed use commercially zoned properties, the C4 zoning district, office districts and the manufacturing zoning districts.

Agricultural Zoning Districts

Keeping of honeybees, provided that:

  1. Hives may be located only on lots with residential use unless the principal use of the lot is an agricultural use.
  2. No more than six (6) hives may be located on a lot unless the principal use of the lot is an agricultural use.
  3. No hive shall exceed twenty (20) cubic feet in volume.
  4. No hive shall be located closer than three (3) feet from any property line.
  5. No hive shall be located closer than ten (10) feet from a public sidewalk or twenty-five (25) feet from a principal building on an abutting lot.
  6. A constant supply of water shall be provided for all hives.
  7. A flyway barrier at least six (6) feet in height shall shield any part of a property line that is within twenty-five (25) feet of a hive. The flyway barrier shall consist of a wall, fence, dense vegetation or a combination thereof and it shall be positioned to transect both legs of a triangle extending from an apex at the hive to each end point of the part of the property line to be shielded.
  8. The owner, operator, or tenant obtains a license under Sec. 9.53, MGO.
  9. The applicant for the license notifies all residents of the property and the owner or operator of the property if the applicant is not the owner or operator.

Notification is not required for renewal of a license.

Conservancy Zoning Districts

Keeping of honeybees, provided that:

  1. No hive shall exceed twenty (20) cubic feet in volume.
  2. No hive shall be located closer than three (3) feet from any property line.
  3. No hive shall be located closer than ten (10) feet from a public sidewalk or twenty-five (25) feet from a principal building on an abutting lot.
  4. A constant supply of water shall be provided for all hives.
  5. A flyway barrier at least six (6) feet in height shall shield any part of a property line that is within twenty-five (25) feet of a hive. The flyway barrier shall consist of a wall, fence, dense vegetation or a combination thereof and it shall be positioned to transect both legs of a triangle extending from an apex at the hive to each end point of the part of the property line to be shielded.
  6. The owner, operator, or tenant obtains a license under Sec. 9.53, MGO.
  7. The applicant for the license notifies all residents of the property and the owner or operator of the property if the applicant is not t

Notification is not required for renewal of a license

Last Updated: 03/06/2013

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Annual Renewal

Honeybee licenses must be obtained annually, prior to April 1 of each year, or within 30 days of acquiring honey bees. 


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