Bee rules discussed at Hoquiam City Council meeting

The City of Hoquiam is adding rules that allow for residential beekeeping.

At their Monday meeting, the Hoquiam City Council discussed an ordinance that would add new municipal code specifically focused on bees within the city.

As part of the new rules, anyone keeping bees would be limited to two hives per property, registered with the State Department of Agriculture. Hives would need to be located at least 15 feet from any property line under restrictions to limit interaction between neighbors. 

Prior to the vote, City Attorney Steve Johnson noted legislation added in the 2019 Washington Legislative session that added protections for apiarists who are following local law that removes liability for any civil damages for acts or omissions in connection with the keeping and maintaining of bees, bee equipment, queen breeding equipment, apiaries, and appliances, unless the acts or omissions constitute any level of culpability higher than ordinary negligence.

Under the Hoquiam rules, bees shall be considered a nuisance when any of the following occurs:

  • Bees in a hive become defensive or exhibit aggressive behavior, or interfere with the normal use of neighboring property, or the enjoyment of persons in the area;
  • Bees in a hive swarm;
  • Hives are kept in a manner which does not conform with this section or the requirements of Chapter 15.60 RCW;
  • Hives become deceased, as defined by the State Department of Agriculture; or
  • Hives become abandoned.

The addition of beekeeping rules to the Hoquiam Municipal Code was passed on Monday.