Articles on the Legalization of Urban Beekeeping:
(Although this page is from 2014, it's chock full of helpful information and the history of legalization of urban beekeeping in the City of Los Angeles.)
[NOTE from William Lewis, 2014 President of the California State Beekeepers Association and past President of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association: "I am certainly in support of bees in the city, but only if Best Management Practices, which was provided to the city planners, are adhered to which means "known gentle genetics". I don't think this can be achieved by keeping local feral colonies. I have not seen proof that they are well behaved and in my experience, the ferals I catch have turned out to be very aggressive."]
See this link for more information on Africanized Honey Bees.
February 13, 2014 Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World By Kathy Keatley Garvey
All Abuzz Over Feral Bees
All of Los Angeles seems abuzz about a new bee ordinance.
Associated Press reporter Gillian Flaccus wrote that a man illegally keeping bees on the roof of his West Los Angeles home may not have to worry any more since the City Council voted Wednesday, Feb. 12 to allow backyard beekeepers to keep bees.
That's good news for our urban beekeepers.
What troubles some folks, though--and rightfully so--is that the council agreed that when at all possible, feral bee colonies should be hived instead of destroyed.
Los Angeles has been the home of Africanized bees since the mid-1990s and some of those feral cololnies are indeed Africanized. They look the same, but their behavior isn't. Africanized honey bees, which the media has dubbed "killer bees," are much more aggressive than our European honey bees, established here in California in1853.
Flaccus also quoted beekeeper Ruth Askren, who relocates feral hives to backyards all over the city, as estimating that only 10 percent or fewer of the colonies she collects are so aggressive they must be destroyed.
"Currently, most hives discovered in the city's public right of ways or reported by concerned citizens," Flaccus wrote, "are wiped out because of worries about their aggressive genetics."
Mussen, who just received a grant with UC Davis bee scientist Brian Johnson to research Africanized bees in California, is following the story closely. He pointed out that Africanized bees were first detected in California in 1994, just outside Blyte in Riverside County.
Fact is, not all bees (especially highly aggressive Africanized bees) are worth saving.
Mussen wrote in one of his Bee Briefs, posted on his website: "While it does appear that over the decades the Africanized honey bees in southern California have lost some of their overly defensive behavior, they still are not predictable. At times a colony population is no more apt to become disturbed and defensive than our normally kept EHBs (European honey bees). At other times they respond quickly to minimal disturbance and defend a very large territory around the hive location. Such behavior is not restricted solely to AHB (Africanized Honey Bees), however colonies of EHBs demonstrating such intensive defensive behavior usually are 'requeened' or killed by beekeepers. Requeening is a process by which the original queen in the colony is located and removed.
"Then, a young queen, mated outside the range of AHB drones, is introduced into the colony. Over a period of four to six weeks, the original workers die of old age and are replaced by daughters of the new queen. Defensive behavior becomes less intense as population replacement rogresses. Individuals and organizations in southern California are advocating collecting honey bee swarms and extracting colonies from buildings, etc., hiving them, and keeping them in backyards. The probability of hiving an AHB colony is relatively high."
Meanwhile, Mussen is fielding calls from news media, beekeepers and agencies.
One person wanted to know if Mussen's views are science-based. "No," Mussen said, "it's common sense."
Mussen offers two suggestions:
1. Beekeepers needing bees should order packages from an area outside AHB colonization, such as Northern California. Be careful about ordering from queen bee breeders in Texas, "as the state is covered with Africanized honey bees."
2. If feral bees are collected and hived, move the hive to a location where there will not be interactions with people and domestic animals. Allow the bees to fill the box and then conduct an inspection. It will take only a couple minutes to determine if the bees simply mind their own business or would likely cause problems for adjacent neighbors.
Mussen also warns that the new ordinance will be yanked if problems mount. If neighbors start complaining about swarms, or bees stinging people and pets en masse, or about scores of bees seeking water elsewhere (beekeepers need to provide for their colonies), that could happen.
Then, he says, beekeepers will have no one to blame but themselves.
February 12, 2014 laist.com
Los Angeles Considers Legalizing Urban Beekeeping
Urban beekeeping, along with other more typically rural pursuits like raising chickens and planting edible gardens, has become more popular as a part of the homesteading movement. Not only do urban beekeepers actually have several advantages over their rural counterparts—rural areas are doused with pesticides, they don't offer the same variety of plants as cities and the bees don't have to be trucked in to Los Angeles—but the bees are already here. They also have a more diverse, year-round source for pollen. Unfortunately, up until this point, beekeeping in city limits has been against the law.
Many have been campaigning to change that. And today the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to conduct a study on legalizing urban beekeeping in Los Angeles, according to City News Service.
The study would look into overturning the law banning beekeeping in areas where there are single-family homes. The council also passed a motion that calls on the city to explore more humane ways of removing bees other than extermination. A third motion passed supports federal protections for bees against pesticides.
"To just haul them (feral bees) out of the fences and stick them in the backyard, that's not a good idea," said Eric Mussen, a bee expert at the University of California, Davis.
February 12, 2014 MSN Entertainment (Read and View Video)
Battle Over Beekeeping in Los Angeles
The City of Los Angeles is buzzing over a proposal to allow urban beekeeping despite concerns over killer bees. On Wednesday the City Council will vote on whether to begin the process of granting bees legal status in LA's residential areas. View Video.
January 31, 2014 KCRW (Listen & Read) By Saul Gonzalez
Making LA a Bee-Friendly City
“In many parts of the world honeybees are in trouble, with their populations in sharp decline. That decline has scientists, environmentalists, farmers and bee lovers worried because of the bees/ importance to pollination and, thus, agriculture.
But there’s some good news: here in Los Angeles the wild bee population is thriving, with as many as a dozen hives per square mile in some neighborhoods. And where there are bees there are beekeepers. L.A. has a surprisingly big community of urban beekeepers who have backyard hives. These urban beekeepers are motivated both by their love of straight, fresh-from-the-hive honey and a desire to do something to help save the global bee population.
However, when it comes to municipal rules and regulations, urban beekeeping in the City of L.A. isn’t explicitly legal. Urban beekeeping advocates, led by a group called HoneyLove, are trying to change that. They’d like to see the city adopt rules and regulations that both promote urban beekeeping and safeguard wild bee hives reported by the public.”
Read the full article and listen: http://blogs.kcrw.com/whichwayla/2014/01/making-la-a-bee-friendly-city
HoneyLove page: http://honeylove.org/kcrw_2014/
December 27, 2013 The Los Angeles Times By The Times Editorial Board