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City council rejects bees by 4-3 vote in Polo

Mayor casts decisive vote, citing residents’ opposition

POLO – After nearly a year of sometimes heated discussions, beekeeper Mike Scholl lost his bid Monday night to raise honey bee queens in small hives outside his Polo home.

By a 4-3 vote, the City Council rejected an ordinance that would have allowed Scholl to maintain small hives called nucs at his home at 110 N. Barber Ave. from Sept. 15 to March 15 each year.

Mayor Doug Knapp cast the deciding no vote after the City Council reached an impasse with a 3-3 tie.

Voting against the measure were aldermen Louise Hall, Cheryl Galor, and Randy Schoon, while aldermen Troy Boothe, David Ackeberg, and Matt Mekeel voted in favor of it.

After the meeting, Knapp said he did not oppose the nucs, but felt most residents were against raising bees inside the city.

“The majority of the people who contacted me and who I have had discussions with indicated that they’re not interested in having them in the city limits,” Knapp said. “I’m not really opposed to them myself, but I’m here to represent the people.”

Polo ordinances prohibit beekeeping within the city limits. Scholl approached the city council last summer to have the nucs for 6 months of the year.

Last August, the council granted his request on a limited, trial basis. Scholl returned to the city council this spring to request an extension.

Scholl’s request last year was discussed at several meetings before the council approved it over opposition from Hall and Galor, who voiced concerns that neighbors, especially small children, might get stung by Scholl’s bees.

At the previous meetings, Scholl said honey bees, unlike wasps and hornets, are quite docile and unlikely to sting, unless they are threatened in their hives. 

In addition, Scholl said the bees are dormant and inactive during the colder months. He said queens are fragile and require close observation and care during their formative weeks. 

Once they matured, he said, the queens would be transferred to hives he maintains at various locations outside town.

Several experts and those experienced with honey bees verified Scholl’s comments over the span of several meetings last year.

Scholl said little at Monday’s meeting, but his son, former Polo Mayor Mark Scholl, read a letter his father had written to the council.

The letter addressed several issues brought up at the April 21 city council meeting, which Scholl did not attend.

Schoon, Hall, and Galor said at the meeting that Scholl was keeping bees on his property and in his garage past the March 15 deadline.

Hall also complained that Scholl was burning honeycombs on his property in violation of city ordinances.

In the letter, Scholl said all of his bees died because of the brutal winter, and only the empty nuc boxes were stored in his garage.

No aldermen inspected his property at any time to see if he was, indeed, keeping bees there, the letter read.

One finally came at Scholl’s request, and no bees were found.

Scholl said in the letter that he got permission from the city to burn the honeycombs before he did it.

“Most disappointing were the comments by some city officials against my integrity and character based on their speculation,” the letter read, in part. “I deserve an apology from the city officials who made those remarks.”

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