Medford should lift its ban on beehives so that residents can harvest their own honey, a local resident suggested to a receptive City Council today.
"Many cities allow beekeeping in cities for personal use," Clint Oborn said.
Councilors appeared willing to discuss changing the ordinance but urged Oborn to investigate the idea before they asked city staff to spend time reviewing the matter.
"It's interesting you can grow marijuana plants outside of an agricultural zone, but you can't have a beehive," Councilor Dick Gordon said.
Oborn said other cities such as Portland and Eugene allow small-scale beehives within city limits, but only for personal consumption.
Beehives are allowed in the city but only on land zoned for agricultural purposes.
Councilor John Michaels said he's thought about having a personal beehive at his home and voiced some support for Oborn's idea.
"I'm willing to look at it," he said.
Mayor Gary Wheeler said he had a hive of bees in his backyard once and had to have a professional beekeeper remove it.
Oborn said that if the city did change its ordinance to allow bees, a citizen could still object to a hive if it becomes a nuisance.
Paul Andersen, president of the Oregon State Beekeepers Association, said Salem, Albany, Portland and Hillsborough are some of the cities that allow small-scale beehives.
"Most of the cities have stepped up and said, "Yeah, we'll support this," he said.
He said some cities previously had ordinances against bees, or they treated beehives as a nuisance.
Cities have various ways of limiting the number of hives such as allowing so many per square feet of property, or requiring setbacks.
"A lot of people don't realize that in a city, there are going to be bees any ways," Andersen said. "It's just a matter of density."
He said a city might require a prospective beekeeper to poll the neighborhood to make sure someone doesn't have a medically confirmed serious reaction to bee stings.
— Damian Mann
Read more in Friday's Mail Tribune.