Council buzzes about bee limits

Monmouth city councilors are considering limiting backyard beehives to two.

Photo by Emily Mentzer
Monmouth city councilors are considering limiting backyard beehives to two.

MONMOUTH — The Monmouth City Council approved in first reading a new beekeeping ordinance which would limit how many hives residents may keep and what residents do with the resulting honey.

The ordinance, if passed at the council’s April 3 meeting, would limit backyard hives to two and require that hives are kept in good condition. Residents would have to prove that inactive hives were not being used by bees, and honey production would have to be for personal use only.

According to the staff report, the city has not received complaints about bees until recently.

The ordinance was brought up by Councilor Royal Johnson. He said he has a neighbor who has five hives.

“I’m not against having bees,” Johnson said. “We need to cut it down. What is the option of these people (neighbors of the beekeeper)? They can’t even go in their yard without getting stung.”

Johnson said he, himself, has to spend an hour cleaning off bee droppings from his car on a regular basis.

New city councilor Roxanne Beltz questioned the need for the ordinance, since state laws and regulations from Oregon State University already cover bees and beekeeping.

Other councilors suggested using city nuisance codes rather than an ordinance aimed at limiting bees.

Johnson said a nuisance violation would take a while to enforce. Councilor Jon Carey agreed, saying it is hard to define a nuisance.

“I don’t see this as a bee issue,” councilor Byron Shinkle said. “Is a person capable of having five hives without having badly behaved bees? Where they go for pollen is going to determine the behavior of the bees.”

In other business, the council heard from citizens about the proposed camping at Gentle Woods Park. City Manager Scott McClure said he suspects the council will take its final vote on the matter at its April 3 meeting.

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