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Keeping bees in Portland

Information
Requirements, standards, setbacks and other considerations for keeping bees in Portland.
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Rules, permits and complaints

  • 4 hives are allowed on any size lot.
  • 6 hives are allowed on lots 10,000 square feet and greater.
  • Permits are not required, but you must comply with all Title 13 code standards and best practices.
  • As of August 1, 2020, beekeepers must notify neighbors within 150 feet of their property prior to installing hives. Use this template neighbor notification letter.

View the general rules, allowances, permits and complaint information about keeping bees and livestock in Portland.

Healthy bee colonies

  • Follow best-practice guidelines of Oregon State University Extension Service and the Oregon State Beekeepers Association.
  • Beekeepers should consider that weather conditions influence bee behavior and plan to work bees when conditions are favorable.
  • Beekeepers should make sure that neighbors are not working or relaxing outdoors when hives are opened and should perform hive manipulations as quickly as possible with minimum disturbance to the bees.
  • Extended hive manipulations, particularly when removing honey, should be carefully planned to accommodate neighbor’s activities.
  • Smoke should be used when working bees.
  • Hive entrances should be smoked before mowing or trimming in the hive areas.
  • Clippings and exhaust should be directed away from hive entrances.
  • Consider using a manipulation cloth (to cover the top of the open hive) in extreme heat or to otherwise minimize hive disruption.

Water

Each beekeeper shall ensure a convenient, on-site water source is always available to the bees during the months of March through October. Water source should be within fifteen feet of the base of the hive(s), located away from property lines and toward the interior of the property, where possible.

Pollination

Each beekeeper shall provide adequate pollination sources within close proximity to the hives.

Swarming

Colonies must be maintained in hives with adequate space and management techniques to prevent overcrowding and discourage swarming. Swarming should be prevented or minimized especially in urban settings. Two primary causes of swarming are congestion and poor ventilation in hive.

Flyaway barrier

Establish and maintain a flyaway barrier at least 6 feet in height consisting of a solid wall, fence, dense vegetation or combination thereof that is parallel to the lot line and extends 10 feet beyond the apiary in each direction so that all bees are forced to fly at an elevation of at least 6 feet above ground level over the lot lines in the vicinity of the apiary. The flyaway barrier is not required if the hive is more than 10 ft. from a property line.

Vector control

Feeding, watering, and maintenance practices must not attract vector.

  • Bee feed and any other supplement used to support bee health must be stored in a sealed container that is not penetrable by rodents or other animals.
  • Water sources must be refreshed and replaced bi-weekly or as often as needed in order to prevent rodent attraction or create a vector breeding source.

Setbacks

  • Hives must be located at least 3 feet from all property lines.
  • Hives must be located at least 15 feet from public walkways and streets and any public outdoor spaces used for, but not limited to, seating, playgrounds, and recreational fields. 
Diagram illustrating setback requirements

Oregon Department of Agriculture requirements

Each beekeeper shall comply with Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) beehive registration requirements. Currently, 5 or move hives requires registration.

Helpful links

Portland Urban Bees Website

Portland Urban Beekeepers FAQ Handout

Master Beekeepers Program, OSU Extension Service

Residential Beekeeping Best Practices Guidelines, OSU Extension Services, February 2018