rules for keeping chickens, bees and farm animals

A new ordinance will help make sure beekeeping is done safely throughout the municipality. In December, commissioners enacted the rules, along with two other ordinances that regulate the keeping of chickens and other farm-type animals.

People who already have bees, chickens or other farm animals are “grandfathered,” but it would be a good idea to let the inspection office know now, in case there is ever a complaint.

A maximum of six beehives are allowed on residential property

Bees The beekeeping ordinance limits apiaries to two hives for every 2,000 feet of residential property, up to a maximum of six hives. The apiary must be registered with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and with the Mt. Lebanon zoning office. Hive owners must be certified by the agriculture department and must fill out a compliance agreement. Hives, which can’t be in front yards, must be a minimum of 10 feet from side/rear lot lines and closer to the house than the property lines. Hives that aren’t occupied for one year must be removed.

Beekeepers also must provide water and install a barrier around the hive that diverts bees up into the sky so they’re not prone to flying across the yard to a neighbor’s home, creating a nuisance.

Chickens Residents may keep up to 15 domestic hens (sorry, no roosters) in any residential district, but they are limited to four chickens for the first 3,000 square feet of property and one chicken for each additional 1,000 square feet.

Those chickens are required to remain within the owner’s property lines and can’t run amok through town. Regulations require the coops to be covered, ventilated, clean and predator-proof, with enough room for the chickens to move around.

Like beehives, coops must be at least 10 feet from side and rear lot boundaries and closer to the main building on the property, and if the chickens fly the coop for a year, the coop’s gotta go. Chicken feed must be kept sealed and protected from critters.

Other farm animals Residents can keep horses, cows, sheep, goats, pigs, fowl and poultry in residential districts for non-commercial purposes, as long as it does not violate any federal, state or county law. The lot must be at least one acre and the animals must stay on the property. Any building that houses the animals must be at least 50 feet from any lot lines. It can’t be in a front yard and it must be removed if not occupied for one year.