ASHLAND, Ore. — Head to Ashland and you might notice some little buzzing boxes. Live next door to one, like Ashland resident Sha Ashworth, and you might notice them a lot.
“It’s quite noticeable, my daughter was actually stung by a bee a week or two ago,” Sha said.
The ordinance was originally designed with both beekeepers and next door neighbors in mind. It reduces buffers between hives and nearby houses, but requires netting or bushes be added as an obstruction. The permit part is an add-on, and that doesn’t have beekeepers so excited.
“It really takes this beekeeping and bee-friendly and neighbor-friendly ordinance back to the place of being very beekeeper unfriendly,” said local beekeeper Sarah Red-Laird.
In order to get a permit, beekeepers would have to notify neighbors and ask about allergies. Beekeepers say it creates unnecessary tension, considering most stings come from more aggressive insects like wasps or yellow-jackets. But council members aren’t so sure.
“It’s a small few who express concern because it’s a small few who are at risk, but I think we have to take that seriously,” said council member Dennis Slattery.
Bee advocates say more science needs to be considered. Bees generally fly several miles to forage for pollen, not just next door. Experts say unless you have a garden with plenty of flowers, they’ll just keep flying.
“If you don’t plant for bees and if you don’t have a yard that has a lot of flowers or you don’t have a garden, you’re not gonna see honey bees in your yard,” Red-Laird said. “They’re gonna pass you right over looking for forage.”
Sha says she still sees bees in her yard all the time and she is allergic, but she says she doesn’t want to prevent someone from pursuing their hobby.
“I think it would be really sad if someone wanted to pick up a hobby like keeping bees and all of a sudden they’re rejected because their neighbor is allergic,” she explained. “I think that would be a little devastating to them.”