Ashland eases rules governing beekeepers

Ashland will not require beekeepers to get permits and notify their neighbors, but the city will develop a registration process to track hives in town.

The Ashland City Council voted Tuesday night to loosen rules on the keeping of bees and small livestock such as goats and rabbits in town.

Because of a concern about bee stings being potentially deadly to people who are allergic to stings, council members had considered the idea of a permitting process that would have required notification of neighbors.

Under that proposal, a neighbor with a medically documented allergy to bee stings could have stopped a potential beekeeper from having the insects.

But a majority of councilors decided those steps were too burdensome for people who want to keep bees.

Beekeeper and educator Sarah Red-Laird, founder and executive director of the organization Bee Girl, spoke at the council meeting and said that permitting and notification requirements would create headaches.

"It has the potential to create unnecessary conflict between neighbors," she said.

Red-Laird suggested the urban hives registry as a compromise.

Ashland previously required hives to be kept at least 150 feet from a neighboring house, street or sidewalk. Because most lots measure less than 150 feet across, that law had kept legal beekeeping out of reach for most residents.

New regulations approved by the council on Tuesday night allow three beehives on lots that are smaller than one acre and five hives on larger parcels.

If the hives are within 25 feet of a property line, the owner will have to maintain a flyway barrier — such as a wall, fence or dense vegetation — at least 6 feet tall parallel to the property line.

Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or

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