A do-it-yourself beekeeping ordinance was quickly approved Tuesday by Spokane County commissioners.
Planning Director John Pederson told commissioners that testimony at a recent Planning Commission hearing on the ordinance was unanimously in support.
That’s a complete turn-around from an April 2010 hearing at which every speaker opposed an ordinance proposed by the county planning staff.
The result of that hearing was that beekeepers and people who wanted to keep away from bees agreed to work together on a more palatable ordinance.
Pederson said professional beekeepers “schooled” the planning staff.
A proposal to put low fences around hives was abandoned when beekeepers pointed out that such an enclosure could become a deadly trap for small children and animals who get inside.
Planning commissioners were so pleased with the collaboration that they voted last week to try it on an ordinance to regulate residential motorcycle courses.
The new beekeeping ordinance overhauls sketchy and sometimes inconsistent regulations that had more to say in agriculture-oriented “resource” zones than in housing-oriented “rural” zones. It allows beekeeping in all zones, with standards to match the categories.
In residential zones, bee colonies are limited to two for the first 4,356 square feet of lot size and one for each additional 4,356 square feet.
Hives must be 25 feet from property lines, or 5 feet away if 6-foot-tall “flyway barriers,” such as a solid fence, are installed to force bees to fly higher.
An unlimited number of beehives is allowed in rural zones, but the hives must be 5 feet from property lines, 25 feet from roads and 50 feet from neighbors’ houses.
The restrictions are similar in agricultural and forest zones, but the setbacks from roads and property lines don’t apply if no one lives on adjacent properties.