logo for the bee laws website


Are bees allowed? YES, in A-1 Agricultural District and R-R Rural Residence District; YES, in other residential zoning districts upon approval  

Read the excerpt below or download a pdf of Zoning Ordinances here: http://www.ci.waterloo.ia.us/images/PlanningZoning/pdf/ZoningOrdinance5079.pdf

10-7-2 REGULATIONS. The regulations set forth in this Chapter and the regulations contained in Chapter 5 shall apply in the “R-R” Rural Residential District. A. Principal Permitted Uses: 1. Single-family dwellings. 2. Farming, specialized animal farms and truck gardening, but not on a scale that would be obnoxious to adjacent areas because of noise or odors. Farm animals, livestock and specialized animal farms shall be permitted upon approval of a Special Permit by the Board of Adjustment after recommendation of the Commission, except as provided in Section 10-27-1. …


Special Permit Required. A Special Permit for the location of any of the following buildings or uses in any district permitted by this Ordinance must be obtained from the Board of Adjustment [Ordinance 3614, 1/9/89] after public hearing thereon:

25. Farm animals, livestock and specialized animal farms, excluding horses and in other than an “A-1” District.  Due to the incompatibility of farm animals and livestock with urban development, large scale animal operations, including animal confinement operations, shall be prohibited unless the Board of Adjustment shall find that a proposed operation would be consistent and compatible with existing and future surrounding land uses. …

26. Hobby Farms, as herein defined, in other than an “A-1” or “R-R” District, when the applicant can demonstrate that such a use will not constitute a nuisance on adjoining property.  Other criteria to determine if a Special Permit shall be granted shall include, but not be limited to: size of lot in relation to the size and number of proposed animals, size of pen(s) in relation to the size and number of proposed animals, proximity of surrounding development, in particular residential development, and the proposed waste disposal plan. An approved Hobby Farm shall require an annual license issued by Planning staff.  The license shall be valid from July 1 to the following June 30. Every Hobby Farm shall be inspected prior to issuance of a license.  Failure of a Hobby Farm to comply with the requirements for a Hobby Farm or any requirements or conditions placed on the Special Permit approval for a Hobby Farm shall result in the license being denied.  Any Hobby Farm denied a license shall be subject to review by the Board of Adjustment to determine if the Special Permit shall be revoked.  No Hobby Farm or farm animals shall be kept in an “R-1” or less restrictive District if they have not been approved as required herein, or if Special Permit approval has been revoked.  Any such property with farm animals existing at the time of enactment of this Ordinance shall obtain Special Permit approval for a Hobby Farm or remove said farm animals within one year of enactment of this Ordinance.

If a nuisance was called: There is no valid claim once a Special Permit is approved.

Additional notes: Special Permit Approval process includes neighborhood consent and public hearing and fee. Application for special permit found on City Online Forms page (look for Request for Special Permit) or click here Waterloo Special Permit App.

Definitions of Animal, Farm and Animal, Livestock would include honey bees.

Animals, Farm: Animals other than household pets, such as livestock, that, where permitted, are kept and maintained for commercial production and sale, family food or by-product production, and/or educational or recreational purposes. 

Animals, Livestock: Includes, but is not limited to, horses, cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and poultry (excluding roosters), goats, ostriches, rheas, emus, farm deer, and other similar animals that are typically raised for meat, wool, eggs, milk or other functional or economic uses. Roosters shall be prohibited within the City of Waterloo.

Contact: Shane Graham

Department: Community Planning & Development

Title: Planner II

Email: shane.graham@waterloo-ia.org

Phone: 319-291-4366

County: Black Hawk