| Neighborhoods

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Hampton beekeeper told to remove hives

Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Hampton Township hatched a hubbub when it stung beekeeper Joe Saber with an eviction notice.

Last month, the municipality instructed Saber — via letter — to remove the beehives in his Leroy Drive yard.

“I believe it's unfair. I don't think they bother anybody,” said Lisa McClelland, a mother of three who lives across the street from Saber.

“I'd like him to be able have the hives come back to his yard,” McClelland said.

Saber, 77, houses thousands of industrious Italian honeybees in two stacks of wooden boxes, painted green. Until recently, the hives sat among lush bushes in a corner of Saber's well-manicured, sloping yard. He painted oak leaves on the hives to help the bees.

“I decorated the front, so they'll recognize their hives,” said Saber, a member of the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society.

Reluctantly, Saber expected to relocate the hives last week to property in another municipality.

Saber made plans to move the hives after he got a June 20 letter from Hampton Township with instructions to remove the hives from his backyard within five days — or risk a citation — because the township's zoning ordinance lists bees among “farm animals” prohibited in residential districts.

“I'd like Hampton to not consider bees as farm animals,” said Saber, a Bell Atlantic retiree. “I would like them to allow beekeeping. I enjoy beekeeping.”

The soft-spoken Saber brought his bees' eviction notice to the June 26 meeting of Hampton Council.

“I ask for 30 days to comply,” Saber told council members.

Saber also asked Hampton Council to permit master beekeeper Stephen Repasky of Dormont, president of BurghBees, to speak at the meeting. BurghBees promotes urban beekeeping.

“I think you would be surprised to know how many beekeepers are in Hampton,” Repasky told Hampton Council. “Beekeeping is a growing urban trend. It makes communities healthier.”

Repasky, who serves on the legislative committee of the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association, offered to help Hampton officials draft an ordinance that would allow beekeeping in all areas of Hampton.

“It's a very safe hobby,” Repasky said.

Any undoing of the township's prohibition on neighborhood honeybees must begin with a petition, according to Marty Orban, land use administrator for Hampton Township.

“Somebody would have to petition Hampton Council to consider a change to the (zoning) ordinance,” Orban said.

Last month, Forest Hills Council voted to amend that borough's ordinance and permit Forest Hills residents to keep two hives of bees — at least 10 feet from their property lines — on lots of 2,000 or more square feet.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or




Show commenting policy

Most-Read North Hills

  1. Photo Gallery: North Hills Soccerfest
  2. Photo Gallery: Toddler Time at the Northland Public Library
  3. Marshall Township volunteers provide Caring Place for grieving kids
  4. Pine-Richland Girl Scouts work to make immigrant children feel at home
  5. Hampton Volunteer Fire Department to use grant to help cover training costs
  6. Vincentian, now in WPIAL, sets all-alumni homecoming
  7. Cinemark opening set to premiere in McCandless
  8. Plenty of activities on tap for Ross Township Community Day
  9. Robotics club gets OK from Pine-Richland
  10. St. Barnabas welcomes new dining dean
  11. Hampton Township’s new website more friendly to users
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.