It one of the more interesting discussions slated for Tuesdays Oakley City Council Meeting is that Councilman Randy Pope is bringing up beehives in residential zones which would change the city code.
While it may be worthy of a discussion, it seems a bit self serving given the comments the councilman used a few weeks. He reported on May 8 his attendance at the Pony Club for the first time and at the Mt. Diablo Bee Keepers Association Meeting and their Annual Bee Workshop and stated he was interested in getting a beehive for his home, but realized City Code would not allow it.
Based on his comments, I’d like to know if other residents are encouraging this code change or if this is off a whim because he wants to have beehives in his backyard.
Going back a few meetings to the May 8 meeting, the minutes state Councilman Pope would like to see an ordinance allowing bee hives similar to the ordinance adopted allowing a certain number of chickens and rabbits.
The problem with this is beehives are not bees, it’s a wood box that collects honey while bees will multiply and create other hives in the surrounding areas/homes. While bees are positive to the local agricultural land, for many its a nuisance and a lot of folks are allergic to bees.
This change of the ordinance reminds me a few months back with the chickens. There was a resident who had hundreds of chickens where the council forced that resident to get rid of all but three. This would be the same as proclaiming three chicken coupes as opposed to three chickens.
Personally, I think it’s pretty neat how honey is made and beehives are amazing things. With that said, changing the city code to allow my neighbors or anyone else in Oakley to put beehives in their backyard is crazy!
The code is fine and should remain as is. If Mr. Pope wants beehives, I am sure he could find some land in the area that will allow him to set up a beehive or two.
Background and Analysis
Councilmember Pope has discussed at a previous Council Meeting the concept of revising the Oakley Municipal Code to allow beehives in residential zoning districts (currently, beehives are only allowed in agriculturally-zoned areas), and has presented the attached draft ordinance for the Council’s comment and direction.
Residential Beehives — proposed amendment to Section 9.1.404 b. of the Oakley Municipal Code
WHEREAS, bees are highly beneficial to society as they provide agriculture, fruit and garden pollination services; and
WHEREAS, bees, via pollination, are responsible for 15 to 30 percent of the food eaten by U.S. consumers; and
WHEREAS, bees further benefit society by producing honey, wax, and other useful products; and
WHEREAS, the domesticated honeybee population, on which most farmers depend for pollination, has declined by about 50 percent; and
WHEREAS, many domestic strains of bees have been bred for desirable traits, including gentleness, honey production, reduced swarming, pollination attributes, and other characteristics which are desirable to foster and maintain; and
WHEREAS, gentle strains of bees can be maintained within populated areas without causing a nuisance if properly located, managed, and maintained.
NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF OAKLEY DOES
HEREBY ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:
Section 9.1.404 b. of the Oakley Municipal Code is hereby amended to read as follows:
i) “Bee” shall mean any stage of the common domestic honey bee, Apis Mellifera species.
ii) “Hive” shall mean a structure for the housing of a bee colony.
iii) “Requeen” means to replace the queen bee in a colony with a younger and more productive queen, a common practice in beekeeping to prevent bee swarming.
b) General Requirements
i) Hives may only be maintained on single-family residential property.
ii) No more than two hives may be maintained on any single-family residential property.
iii) All bee colonies shall be kept in inspectable hives consisting of moveable frames and combs.
iv) Hives must be kept in sound and usable condition at all times.
c) Hive Placement Requirements
i) Hives shall be located at least 25 feet from all property lines, or
ii) screened so that the bees must fly over a six-foot .barrier, which may be vegetative, before leaving the property, or
iii) be placed at least eight-feet above the adjacent ground level.
d) Hive Management Requirements
i) Hives shall be continually managed to provide adequate living-space for their resident bees to prevent swarming.
ii) Hives shall be requeened at least once every two years to prevent swarming.
iii) A water source for bees shall be provided at all times on the property where the bees are kept to discourage bee visitation at swimming pools, hose bibs and other water sources on adjacent public or private property.
iv) Hive maintenance materials or equipment must be stored in a sealed container or placed within a building or other bee-proof enclosure.