Fremont council likes beekeepers more than sting victims

A few months ago I met local beekeeper Russel Schaffer. He was bummed that the city denied him a permit to keep his two bee hives after his neighbor complained that they got stung and had family members allergic to bee stings.

Shaffer’s a good guy, and the youngest-looking 75 year old I’ve ever met. His son is also Newark’s former fire chief. But I told him that I couldn’t do a story since it was so obvious that he didn’t have a leg to stand on. He violated city code by getting the hives without a permit. And when he sought the permit — after his neighbor complained about getting stung — the cops had little choice but to deny it based on the city code that makes a neighbor’s complaint grounds for denial. An Argus story would have had a headline out of The Onion, “Man violates city code, complains about it.”

But what do I know?

Shaffer appealed his case to the City Council today, and council members voted 4-1 for him to get the permit, even though he got the bees in violation of city code. I asked one city official about the outcome. He gave the old saying, “Sometimes it’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”


Matt Artz


  1. Bees are marvelous things and we have at least 2 hives that I know of in our complex – one un-permited family of bees have moved in the tiles over our car in the car port – if only I had the guts to go fish out Fremont’s finest honey!!

  2. I believe the expression is…

    “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”

    That’s the reasoning I give to my married friends to use on their wives, anyway.

  3. I’ve seen two swarms in my life so far, both times they settled down on a tree branch and were safely taken away by a very happy beekeeper. Having thousands of bees buzzing around is scary, but once you realize they aren’t massing for an attack a swarm is an amazing thing to see. There are still beekeepers around here, I encourage people to call them instead of an exterminator.

    I understand why Shaffer’s neighbors are nervous, but my friend who has the same allergy is more worried about the yellow jackets that crawl all over his pluots than he is the bees.

  4. Here’s anonther clue for you all…Fremont next Mayor is also a beekeeper.

  5. Love it! Ha! The bees will not bother you as long as you leave them alone. Buzzzzz

  6. It’s EASIER to ask for forgiveness than it is permission. And better then, I suppose.

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