Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Beginning June 8, 2020 the Building Inspection plan review and zoning review counters will be open to the public by appointment only.

For information about scheduling an appointment and other Building Inspection services please see the Building Inspection Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

View all impacts to City service on the City's COVID-19 website.

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, please talk to your neighbors ahead of time. When you do, explain the behavior and benefits of beekeeping. By following best practices, you can avoid creating problems for your neighbors. With planning, you can have beehives near homes, gardens, and other recreational places. You are responsible for monitoring your bees on a regular basis. Regular monitoring helps keep the hive healthy and helps make sure you are not creating a nuisance for others. Limit your beekeeping activities to times of day that will not interfere with your neighbors' enjoyment of their property.

If the property has multiple units, notify the owner and all the residents of the property.

  1. Check the zoning district of the property. Find zoning district of a property.  Beekeeping regulations vary by zoning districts. The following zoning districts do not allow honeybees:
  • any manufacturing zoning district

  • office zoning districts

  • the C4 zoning district

  • any commercial zoning district if the property use is not exclusively residential.

See below for further explanations.

  1. 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: 12/04/2020

Search BI services

Annual Renewal

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

Translation Services

For interpreter, translator, materials in alternate formats or other accommodations, please call the Building Inspection Division at (608) 266-4551.

Español: Si necesita interprete, traductor, materiales en diferentes formatos, u otro tipo de ayuda para acceder a estos formularios, por favor llame al (608) 266-4551.

Hmoob: Yog tias koj xav tau ib tug neeg txhais lus, txhais ntawv, los sis xav tau cov ntaub ntawv pab kom paub txog cov lus qhia no, thov hu rau Chaw Haujlwm Koog Soj Ntsuam Tsev (Building Inspection Division) (608) 266-4551.


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