SOUTH PORTLAND (AP) – With the debate over chickens simmering, South Portland is now taking on the issue of beekeepers within city limits.

Mark Tinkham complained to City Hall that his family has to retreat indoors on warm days when honeybees from a neighbor’s hives are active. The bees especially like the children’s small swimming pool, he noted.

Patricia Doucette, the city’s longtime code enforcement officer, hopes to sit down one-on-one with beekeeper Omid Ghayebi to discuss the situation. But she said the bees violate rules limiting farming in residential zones.

“We have determined that this type of activity is offensive and detrimental to the neighborhood,” she said.

For his part, Ghayeb has no intention of stopping his beekeeping hobby or evicting his estimated 200,000 tenants.

“The code pretty much says the keeping of farm animals is prohibited,” said Ghayebi. “It doesn’t say anything about beekeeping.” Besides, he said, his honeybees do a lot of good and they’re not aggressive like hornets.

The bee flap follows an effort led by 10-year old Olivia Collins to allow chickens in residential areas.

An ordinance allowing limited ownership of chickens passed a first vote by the council, and could be formally adopted Sept. 5.

Oddly enough, this is not the first chicken-and-bee controversy in Greater Portland.

Westbrook residents have engaged in similar debates about Robert Ledoux, who keeps chickens in his backyard, and Mark LeClair, who tends hives on his property.

The city initially told the men to get rid of their chickens and hives, but the city worked with them after they fought City Hall.

A change to the city ordinance was crafted, allowing the activities under strict guidelines.

AP-ES-08-24-07 0939EDT

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