Springfield city commissioners are considering an amendment that would allow beehives on smaller residential properties.
City code currently bans beehives on properties less than three acres. But the proposed amendment would allow people to have up to two beehives on their property as long as they have a 6-foot barrier wall around the hives, according to Shannon Meadows, Springfield community development director.
City staff began to draft the amendment after a complaint was received about a local beekeeper, Steve Chirico, and he was ordered to remove his beehives from his South Fountain Avenue home. He was given 30 days to remove them but Chirico said the bees could have died if they were moved in the summer heat.
He was given an extension by the city until Oct. 31 but city staff wanted to take into account the changing condition of bees, Meadows said.
“Our environment is constantly changing,” she said, “and the bee population, the positive pollinators and honeybees, have really struggled.”
Beginning in 2014, honeybee colonies across the country have died in large numbers, she said. And with agriculture being half of Ohio’s economy, she said some city residents want to do what they can to help the bee population. But city staff members wants to make sure a change would be safe, including those with allergies.
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“We do have a populated area and we are recommending that residential parcels can have bees,” Meadows said. “So we need to limit the number but still allow the actual activity.”
That’s why only two hives would be allowed per property, she said, and the 6-foot barrier wall will force bees to leave the hive above most people.
City staff members sought out best practices for beehives from the Ohio Beekeeper’s Association and the Department of Agriculture, she said.
Chirico is hopeful the commission will pass the amendment before he’s required to move his bees.
“I’m confident that it will be approved,” he said. “I think there’s enough support for this in the city.”
He would have to update his fencing around his bees but he said he’s OK with that.
“As far as I’m concerned that’s a pretty small price to pay to be able to keep them and I’m happy to do that,” he said.
The amendment will be discussed at a City Planning Board meeting on Oct. 9 and Springfield City Commissioners likely will vote on it on Oct. 10. Anyone with questions about the amendment can call City Hall at 937-324-7380.