PORTSMOUTH — According to all known laws of the city charter, Portsmouth residents are not permitted to own a list of wild and farm animals within parts or in the entire city.
Crafted in 2007, the Chapter 505.08 “Nuisance Conditions Prohibited” list ranges from non-domestic animals as lions, rattlesnakes, and crocodiles to farm animals like sheep, poultry and swine. At the urging of one 3rd Ward resident last month, however, mentioned by candidate Andy Cole, one animal could be removed from that list.
Currently in the City Managers’ agenda, honey bees may soon be allowed within Portsmouth if the city council moves to strike its name from the prohibited list.
Alva Queen, Scioto County apiary expert, owns beehives on his property who sees ample benefits to the inclusion of the honey beehives in the community.
“They pollinate everything. There’s hardly anything that’s not pollinated by them,” he said in a Monday interview, having a great interest in beekeeping for 25 years.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the benefits honey bees bring to the table are seen on the plate and in the wallets of many. Pollination of crops such as apples, pumpkins, squash, and more by the insect account for one-third of all food eaten by Americans.
Research from 2019 in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service found honey bees produced 157 million pounds of honey, a value of $339 million in those day’s dollars.
When discussions began in late April, Portsmouth City Health Commissioner Chris Smith addressed council to provide background for the ban of farm animals in the city.
“We had a problem with all sorts of farm animals in the city, so council at the time passed an ordinance to essentially eliminate all the farm animals and they included bees in there,” he said during the April 26 session, remembering they began somewhere around the time he started with PCHD.
He himself used to own beehives on his property in town and was the last person to own a permit, where no one has owned a license in the past two years. As the city charter reads, a permit costs $25 to cover the administrative and inspection expenses which would be waived if it was for a 4-H project.
“From a personal opinion, we don’t have enough honey bees and there’s plenty of need,” said Smith.
2nd Ward Councilwoman Charlotte Gordon added during that same session that while honey bees are not native to Ohio, they are less aggressive than yellow jackets. She and 5th Ward Councilman Edwin Martell had spoken with Shawnee State University biology professor Logan Minter before the session and he further explained their services.
“The benefits of pollination from a colony of bees extends much further out than you would expect it to be,” Gordon said, recalling the discussion with Minter. “Not just in the surrounding yards but they do travel a great distance and so it really does help to pollinate and it helps a lot of the help with the growth of plants.”
Drew Carter of Watch Me Grow Ohio had also approached her about putting beehives into the community gardens that he’s putting together.
At the council’s latest meeting, Gordon requested that a limit be set to the number of beehives to prevent any nuisances. It will be revisited during the city manager’s session on May 24.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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