Ottawa Woman Files Suit on Bees


An Ottawa woman is suing the city over a ban on her home beekeeping business. Last week, Ellen Finnerty filed the suit in Franklin County District Court, arcuing the City’s prohibition on home based businesses that involve animal care and activities outside the actual dwelling, violates the Kansas Constitution protections of “Life, Liberty and Property.” She says the trouble started when she inquired to City officials about what permits she might need to install beehives. Finnerty says a City planner told her the zoning codes prohibit home businesses featuring “animal care of any type”.

Because bees are animals and gardens are outside, that would mean Finnerty’s garden and honey business was effectively prohibited. Finnerty’s petition notes that she would have been within her rights to raise a garden or keep bees for her private enjoyment on her property; they just couldn’t be connected to commercial use.

Finnerty’s complaint contends that home beekeeping and gardening cause no harm or negative impacts to surrounding property owners. Her business isn’t generating waste, pollution, noise, additional traffic, or on-street parking. She also argues the kinds of bees she would be keeping are ‘docile’ and rarely sting, unless their hive is threatened. She hopes the City of Ottawa will agree to change the ordinance.