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Residential Beekeeping Legislation for Oregon
Interview with Raine Lee Ritalto
Many of us have been profoundly influenced by Beekeeping. Some of us have influenced Beekeeping itself. So it was with Raine Lee Ritalto, a Portland turned Gresham Beekeeper who found that she faced very different rules about beekeeping in each city. As a result, she created a piece of Legislation on Residential Beekeeping which has since been adopted by the Oregon State Beekeepers Association. Now, this Bill is starting to have an international impact as an exemplar. Raine's work appears on the Oregon State Beekeepers site about Residential Beekeeping here. Click here for more on HB 2653
1. Raine, how did you decide to write this Bill and how long did it take?
First, let me say that I love bees and beekeeping. When I lived in Portland, the issue of whether one was allowed to keep bees never really even came up. However, when I moved, Gresham’s beekeeping ban (which directly impacted me) and inconsistencies in bee rules across the state/nation are really what led me to create my national petition which became the forerunner for my HB2653 Residential Beekeeping. This year marks 7 years of my life I’ve invested into this Bill and everything leading up to and deriving from it. Prior to becoming involved in creating this legislation, I was enrolled in the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program and completed my Apprentice level certification. I sought assistance from our State Beekeeping Association to get some consistency in beekeeping rules across the state. I finally came out of the Oregon Master Beekeeper program to focus on this Bill myself in order to get beekeeping allowed in Gresham. Both bills were passed and adopted in the same year. It’s been an incredible journey and learning experience for me.
2. What impact will it have in the state?
Positive impact benefits started to occur upon Bill introduction. In addition to my testimony before the Oregon Legislature which helped get the Bill passed, I had the opportunity of testifying before 4 different city councils in Oregon to assist beekeepers with beekeeping related issues. In every case referencing my Bill helped achieve successful results. Provisions in the Bill create the framework for consistency with minimal rules. Statewide all cities, counties, beekeepers, and the public will utilize the same best practices policies for beekeeping within residential areas. Having a single source policy document for this broad audience with current and vetted beekeeping information to reference is a big paradigm shift. As existing bee rules are reviewed in light of this document and the provision of applying existing nuisance ordinances to manage beekeeping related conflicts, I believe we will start seeing a paring down of bee rules and more cities/counties allowing residential beekeeping. Beekeepers now have a reference guide to help them practice nuisance-free beekeeping. This will improve their beekeeping skills and reduce bee related conflicts with neighbors. One idea I had that is not written in the Bill, but is an outgrowth of it, is for the Journey level Oregon Master Beekeeper students to become liaisons to the cities and counties when bee related issues arise. Given their training, they are best positioned for this role and they would be of tremendous benefit to beekeepers too.
3. Do you think this Bill has the potential to have national or international impact?
Yes! I’ve already received several inquiries from people in other states about my Bill. One of the California petitions I’ve been following was not successful. I recently met a beekeeper from that California city who wants to use copies of my Bill and the best-practice documentation to present to their city in a renewed request to have residential beekeeping allowed. A few days ago I found out that beekeepers in Alberta, Canada, are receiving copies of our best-practices guide along with their beekeeping registration paperwork. This is truly remarkable when you consider that Oregon has not fully rolled this out yet! I suspect we will see additional interest too as awareness spreads of Oregon’s new Residential Beekeeping law.
4. How can those who wish to learn more contact you?
Messages are the best way to contact me.