Urban beekeepers make pitch to Gresham council

Bees make fruits and vegetables a $15 billion agricultural giant

The Oregon State Beekeepers Association and the Department of Agriculture inspect a beehive in Gresham, June 24, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN 6) — In the Portland area, said the president of the Portland Urban beekeepers, about 50% of the hives every year are lost.

“So a lot of us are trying to get backyard beekeeping expanded,” president Tim Wessel told KOIN 6 News.

Wessel’s interest in bees began as a hobby but after seeing the decline of the honeybee population, he made it a mission to support backyard beekeeping.

More than $15 billion worth of the US agricultural production, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables that depend on the health and well-being of honeybees.

Wessel understands there are still a lot of misconceptions about backyard beekeepers.

“When they fly from the hives they dissipate very quickly. And they are not interested in stinging you, they are interested in collecting pollen and nectar for their own colony,” he said.

The city of Gresham based their beekeeping code on cities like Bend, Hillsboro and Portland. But there are some restrictions that beekeepers don’t like.

Hives must be kept at least 150 feet from a school or park and no one within 150 feet has a medically classified food allergy. Beekeepers can keep up to four hives, and the permit will have to be renewed every two years.

Additionally, beekeepers will be required to notify their neighbors.

After testimony from local beekeepers, the Gresham City Council postponed their vote on this proposal. They sent it back to the staff to do more research.