Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.

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PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: TRAVIS LOOSE  - After a stingerless drone bee fell from the honeycomb beekeeper Mike Standing was extracting, he dutifully picked up the little guy and returned him to the hive.  Humans and animals aren’t always so different. Both work tremendously hard to protect themselves first — then often work together for the betterment of the whole.


On July 2, Forest Grove resident Mike Standing received a letter from the city informing him his backyard beehives would need to be removed by Aug. 3.

A neighbor had initiated the complaint to the city, citing concerns about Standing’s bees invading her backyard and drinking from her water fixture. Because Forest Grove has no hard and fast rules about noncommercial private beekeeping, the city’s community development director made the call for the hives to be removed.

Much like a threatened honeybee, Standing called on his friends to help him protect his five beehives.

Standing called on the Oregon and Tualatin Valley beekeepers associations for support. He also got in touch with Raine Lee Ritalto, an outspoken bee advocate in Multnomah County.

Ritalto recently spearheaded the passage of a new state law that will provide beekeepers and municipalities with a guidebook for how to handle and monitor best practices in beekeeping. The guidebook will be created by experts at Oregon State University, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and various beekeepers associations.

Sponsored by state Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, House Bill 2653 won’t change or enforce any rules about beekeeping. But it should educate city officials and beekeepers about how to fairly and respectfully deal with one another.

Because there are different beekeeping codes and policies for every city in Oregon, there isn’t any uniformity for how bees are kept or how conflicts are resolved when it comes to private beekeeping operations.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: TRAVIS LOOSE  - Forest Grove resident Mike Standing holds an extracted honeycomb covered in worker bees. After removing the honeycomb trays, he places them in a machine and spins the honey free.  “There’s a lot of beekeeping info out there,” says Rose Kachadoorian of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “Some of it’s good, some of it’s not so good. This bill creates a joint agreement to ensure consistency across the state.”

Citing that bill — and showing how important bees are to the environment — Standing and his friends made their case to the Forest Grove City Council on July 13. After keeping beehives for 17 years, “I think I know what I’m doing with bees at this point,” Standing told the council.

Four days before the deadline to remove his bees, Standing reached out to James Reitz, Forest Grove’s senior planner. Based on testimony from Standing and fellow beekeepers, “the council decided to drop the issue and take no further action,” Reitz says.

Standing, who calls bees his pets, says he’s happy to see how willing beekeepers are to stand up for one another — just like a hive.

He’d like to see more beekeepers learn about how best to care for bees. At the very least, he encourages those who keep bees to speak with their neighbors about what they’re doing in an effort to foster mutually respectful relationships.

It wouldn’t hurt to offer them a byproduct of their hobby, Standing says.

“Honey goes a long way.”

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