To bee or not to bee: City abuzz about urban hives

To bee or not to bee: City abuzz about urban hives
In this photo taken Tuesday March 20, 2011, a bee rests on a man's finger in Ashland, Ore. City code requires bee hives be more than 150 feet from neighbors, streets and sidewalks, but some bee advocates believe that rule should be loosened. (AP Photo/The Medford Mail Tribune, Jamie Lusch)

ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) — To bee or not to bee?

Honey bee advocates in Ashland, Ore., the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, want the City Council to consider whether 'tis nobler to risk the stings of backyard honey bees by allowing more hives in the city limits.

The Daily Tidings reports that the council is set in April to take up whether to loosen restrictions on backyard chickens, and that has prompted some people to suggest the same sort of welcome should be afforded to honey bees.

Current city rules require bee hives be at least 150 feet away from a street, sidewalk or neighboring residence.

Most city residential lots are not big enough to give that kind of room.

Sarah Red-Laird, executive director of the beekeeping education service Bee Girl, suggests the city drop the buffer requirement and leave it to bee experts to educate the public.

"''A really important thing to know about bee-keeping in urban settings is that 90 percent of stings come from wasps," Red-Laird said. "Bees only sting defensively when something gets into their hive or if you accidentally squish one."

She added that facing a hive entrance toward a tall fence will make the bees fly over people's heads as they fly in and out.

At Southern Oregon University, graduate student Ryan King plans this May to put three hives inside the fence of the campus community garden, which will be well away from residences.

King said it was not easy to gain permission, but people's apprehension over stings soon turned to curiosity.

King said bees fly as afar as two miles to forage, which means there are already bees from outside the city limits flying within the city, despite the buffer rule.


Information from: The Ashland Daily Tidings,


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press