How to Start Urban Beekeeping: The Importance of Honey

Money Crashers     By Michael Lewis   4/3/14

The bee has always occupied a special place in man’s psyche. Young children learn the origins of babies with stories of “the birds and the bees,” while their industry is so respected that a person engaged in intense activity is “as busy as a bee.” “Spelling bees” and “quilting bees” are so named because a meeting of people working together resembles the scenes within a beehive. Closely guarded information is “none of your beeswax,” and the flappers of the 1920s popularized the “bee’s knees” to express the coolness of an object or activity.

We have seen girls with “bee-stung lips,” and refer to irritated people as having a “bee in their bonnet.” And who hasn’t made a “beeline” for a special object?

As far as we know, bees have been around for about 125 million years. They are descendants of wasps, most of which are predator carnivores. Bees, however, switched from hunting prey to collecting pollen for food – a nice adaptation, since the food doesn’t fight back. Scientists have since classified nearly 20,000 species of bees, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. They are the most efficient pollination agents in nature, a critical factor in the appearance of the world as we know it.

The Honey Bee, A European Transplant

While most bees pollinate flowers – the bumblebee, for example, is especially important in the pollination of tomatoes and glasshouse-raised crops – the western honey bee is the bee people are most likely to name when asked the identity of the greatest pollinator. The honey bee originated in Asia, traveled to Europe, and was introduced into North America in the early 1600s. Italian bees were brought to this country from Italy in 1859, and later from Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere. In 1990, a subspecies from Africa came to America.

Read more...
http://www.moneycrashers.com/start-urban-beekeeping-importance-honey-bees/#disqus_thread

Full article also located on this website under Becoming an Urban Beekeeper

Nurturing Bees With a View

The New York Times     By Hannah Olivennes      4/3/14

LONDON — The honeybees on the roof of the luxury department store Fortnum & Mason are living the life.

The four hives, which overlook Piccadilly, have sweeping views from the Shard to Big Ben. They were made of English oak by the Welsh carpenter Kim Farley-Harper, painted in the famous Fortnum “eau de nil” turquoise and topped with gold leaf-covered finials shaped like traditional bee skeps.

Most important of all, since they arrived in 2008 the bees have had the attention of their keeper, Steve Benbow.

Mr. Benbow, 45, is an urban beekeeper who clearly loves what he does. “I live my life by my bees,” he said, his expression conveying his enthusiasm. “I get grumpy when I don’t see my bees for a while.”

On this particular day atop Fortnum & Mason, he is wearing a waistcoat over an orange shirt, jeans and a flat cap — a dapper outfit nothing like the veiled hats and gauntlet gloves used by some beekeepers.

“It’s nice to beekeep without gloves because you can be more tactile — and you can make sure you don’t squash anyone,” he noted. “You get stung quite a bit but only when you’re clumsy.”

Although, he added, “you become immune to it, and you don’t really notice it most of the time.”

Mr. Benbow opened the hives carefully and removed the 10 or so frames inside each one, taking a look at how the bees’ early efforts at creating honeycombs were coming along. Bees are very sensitive creatures, he noted. “You’ve got to be quite gentle with them, you don’t want to be banging around.”

Read more... 
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/04/fashion/beekeeper-tends-hives-on-rooftops-of-London.html?_r=0

Order: THE URBAN BEEKEEPER: A Year of Bees in the City
http://www.amazon.com/The-Urban-Beekeeper-Year-Bees/dp/0224086898

Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee (Biopolitics)

BUZZ: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee (Biopolitics)
By Lisa Jean Moore and Mary Kosut
"Buzz is a fascinating reminder of the interconnections between humans and animals, even in that most urban of environments, New York City."
--Gary Alan Fine, author of Authors of the Storm: Meteorologists and the Culture of Prediction 

http://www.amazon.com/Buzz-Urban-Beekeeping-Biopolitics-Series/dp/147982738X

CBS: Urban Beekeeping Flourishes: Inside the L.A. Push to Legalize Backyard Beekeeping

CBS News' Ben Tracy Reports Video     3/3/14

MARCH 3, 2014, 8:46 AM|Bee colonies are vital to our food supply, but they have been dying off for nearly a decade. CBS News' Ben Tracy reports on the rise of urban beekeeping, and the push in Los Angeles for a "pro-bee" ordinance to officially allow beekeeping.

[NOTE:  BEE AWARENESS IS ESSENTIAL FOR RESPONSIBLE BEEKEEPING IN AN URBAN ENVIRONMENT

The following is from William Lewis, 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."

Unfortunately, this CBS news report does not mention a number of quotes from Dr. Eric Mussen, Extension Apiculturist, UC Davis Department of Entomology, one of which is: "To just haul them (feral bees) out of the fences and stick them in the backyard, that's not a good idea."

However, there is an excellent article in the Bug Squad blog:  All Abuzz Over Feral Bees By Kathy Keatley Garvey 2/13/14, reprinted below, which includes further information from Dr. Mussen: 

"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 quoted Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen as saying "“To just haul them (feral bees) out of the fences and stick them in the backyard, that's not a good idea." (See news story.)

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."]

See this link for guidelines for Best Management Practices.

See this link for more information on Africanized Honey Bees.

LA Council Considering Urban Beekeeping

ABC Eyewitness News    

The LA Council is considering legalizing backyard beekeeping in the city due to the decline of the honey bee.

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/video?id=9429983

[Note:  From William Lewis, 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."]

All Abuzz Over Feral Bees

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey   2/13/14

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 quoted Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen as saying "“To just haul them (feral bees) out of the fences and stick them in the backyard, that's not a good idea." (See news story.)

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. 

Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey Bug Squad blog at: http://ucanr.org/blogs/bugsquad/

[Note: Finally, an article that tells the truth about the realities of urban beekeeping in areas where there are Africanized Honey Bees. Unfortunately, all other articles I've read on the subject seem to simply relay some of the facts, leaving out what does not suit the objective: Legalizing Beekeeping in the City of Los Angeles. The fact is: Africanized Honey Bees can be dangerous. Read some common sense from long-time, highly experienced beekeepers and entomologists.  The City Council needs to implement Best Management Practices for responsible beekeeping in an urban environment.  - Eva Andrews, Urban Beekeeper, LACBA Member/Webkeeper.]

Can Urban Beekeeping Stop the Beepocalypse?

[Note:  Quote from Stacy McKenna, Secretary of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association: "I fundamentally agree with the post - urban bees will help with urban gardening but not commercial agriculture.  Of course, he totally leaves out the issue of Best Management Practices to deal with the Africanization in our area."

Quote from William Lewis, 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."]

science.time.com     By Bryan Walsh   2/13/14

Los Angeles is ready to make urban beekeeping legal, just as colony collapse disorder is ravaging commercial bee populations

I’m just going to say it: Los Angeles is abuzz over urban beekeeping. For years the city has had a thriving underground beekeeping culture, with hives kept in backyards by Los Angelenos who want their honey extra local. It’s part of a national trend that has even luxury hotels like the Waldorf-Astoria in New York keeping bees on city roofs or in tiny urban backyards. But while Los Angeles is ideal for amateur apiaries—bees, like people, are drawn to southern California’s warm climate and plentiful forage—keeping bees in residential areas of the city has been illegal, as it still is in much of the U.S. Beekeepers like Rob McFarland, who keeps 25,000 bees on the roof of his house in West L.A., were essentially breaking the law.

That’s going to change. On Feb. 12 the Los Angeles City Council ordered a review of the city’s zoning laws to allow urban beekeeping in residential areas. And the council did so in part because they believed that promoting urban beekeeping could help fight the perplexing problem of severe bee morality, including the still mysterious colony collapse disorder (CCD). As L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz put it:

This puts our long-term food security at risk because pollinators are vital to our food supply. One-third of what we eat is due to pollinators, and they are a key to our agricultural industry.

(MORE: The Plight of the Honeybee)

There’s little reason that city dwellers shouldn’t be allowed to keep bees if they have the space, the money and the patience. Besides producing honey, urban bees can pollinate local gardens, helping green their city. But will the uptick in urban beekeeping really be enough to offset the mounting losses for commercial beekeepers, who this past winter lost nearly a third of their colonies?

Not exactly. While hobbyists beekeepers in cities and elsewhere certainly help keep bee populations going, there simply aren’t anywhere near enough of them to meet the enormous pollination needs of agriculture, should commercial bees keep dying. It takes billions of honeybees from around the U.S. to pollinate the spring’s almond crop in California, for example. Even if there were enough urban bees to do that job, location matters. Honeybees generally stay close to home when foraging for nutrition, so they’re unlikely to offer much help to the large farms that need them. And since bees need plants and flowers for forage, there may also be a limit to how many urban hives could ever be packed into a city like L.A. Already there are concerns in cities like New York and London that urban bees are running out of forage. The hard truth is that there simply aren’t enough urban bees out there to compensate for high mortality rates in commercial hives—and there probably never will be.

(PHOTO: The Bee, Magnified)

But that doesn’t mean that city bees can’t help. Urban bees can be a boon for urban agriculture, which is on the rise as well. And there’s some evidence that urban bees are healthier than their country counterparts. In a TEDx talk from 2012, Noah Wilson-Rich, a biologist at Tufts University and the founder of the Best Bees Company, reported research that found significantly higher survival rates in urban bees versus traditional rural bees, as well as higher honey yields. It’s not clear why that’s the case—it could be that urban bees are exposed to fewer toxic pesticides, or that they simply face less competition for resources. Plant diversity in city parks and gardens, surprisingly, is often better than in rural areas, which are increasingly dominated by crop monocultures that offer little nutrition for hungry honeybees. Commercial bees are also frequently shipped around the country to pollination sites, something that can stress populations—and something that homebody urban bees don’t have to worry about.

So Los Angelenos, embrace your city bees. They may not stave off the beepocalypse alone, but you can’t beat the buzz.

Read more: Los Angeles Moves to Legalize Urban Beekeeping in the City | TIME.com http://science.time.com/2014/02/13/can-urban-beekeeping-stop-the-beepocalypse/#ixzz2tFfWxiJB

L.A. City Council Votes to Explore Allowing Backyard Beekeeping

Los Angeles Times    By Emily Alpert Reyes   2/12/14

The Los Angeles City Council took its first step Wednesday to explore whether beekeeping should be allowed in residential zones, asking city staff to report back on the idea.

Backyard beekeepers want Los Angeles to join New York, Santa Monica and other cities that allow residents to keep hives at home. Existing Los Angeles city codes do not allow beekeeping in residential zones, according to city planning officials.

Beekeeping has nonetheless blossomed among Angelenos worried about the health of honeybees and devoted to urban farming. In a news conference Wednesday, beekeepers urged the council to pursue the report on the topic, possibly the first step toward enshrining the practice in city code.

At the news conference, City Councilman Paul Koretz argued urban beekeeping was especially needed in the face of colony collapse disorder, which has devastated agricultural hives that pollinate avocados, almonds and other crucial crops. Councilman Mike Bonin chimed in.

“If you care about blueberries,” Bonin said, “you care about this.”

Not everyone was convinced that new rules were needed: Southern California beekeeper Dael Wilcox argued that the practice wasn’t actually illegal, just not spelled out in law, and that the city should keep it that way. Both beekeepers and city officials say complaints about managed hives are rare.

Other beekeepers countered that regulations would get rid of any “gray area” around beekeeping. “There is so much confusion and fear,” Keith Roberts, vice president of the Los Angeles County Beekeeping Assn., told The Times on Tuesday. “It’s better that the city takes an official stand.”

City Councilman Bernard C. Parks said the upcoming report should address whether permits would be needed and how any “potential health issues,” such as bee-related allergies, would be addressed. Before the meeting, beekeepers had argued managed hives would actually diminish that threat.

People are less likely to be stung by a “managed colony” than untended bees, said Rob McFarland, cofounder of the nonprofit HoneyLove. “The bees are already here," he said.

The council also voted to instruct the Bureau of Street Services, which handles calls about unwanted hives, to promote alternatives to extermination such as relocating “nuisance” hives, and threw its support behind a federal bill calling for the suspension of certain pesticides.

“If we don’t vote for it, it’ll be a buzzkill,” City Councilman Mitchell Englander joked just before the unanimous vote.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-los-angeles-beekeeping-20140212,0,984264.story#ixzz2tEiuivpU

[NOTE from William Lewis, 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."] 

[QUOTE: "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.]

See this link for guidelines for Best Management Practices.

See this link for more information on Africanized Honey Bees

Beekeepers Urge L.A. to Consider Allowing Residential Beehives

Los Angeles Times   By Emily Alpert Reyes   2/13/14

Beekeepers are urging Los Angeles city leaders to seriously consider allowing backyard beehives.

The City Council took action Wednesday to explore whether beekeeping should be allowed in residential zones, asking city staff to report back on the idea.

Backyard beekeepers want Los Angeles to join New York, Santa Monica and other cities that allow residents to keep hives at home.

Existing Los Angeles city codes do not allow beekeeping in residential zones, according to city planning officials. Beekeeping has nonetheless blossomed among Angelenos worried about the health of honeybees and devoted to urban farming.

In a news conference Wednesday, beekeepers urged the council to pursue the report on the topic, possibly the first step toward enshrining the practice in city code.

At the conference, City Councilman Paul Koretz argued that urban beekeeping was especially needed in the face of colony collapse disorder, which has devastated agricultural hives that pollinate avocados, almonds and other crucial crops.

Councilman Mike Bonin chimed in. “If you care about blueberries,” Bonin said, “you care about this.”

Not everyone was convinced that new rules were needed: Southern California beekeeper Dael Wilcox argued the practice wasn’t actually illegal, just not spelled out in law, and that the city should keep it that way.

Both beekeepers and city officials say complaints about managed hives are rare.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-beekeepers-los-angeles-residential-beehives-20140212,0,2801637.story#ixzz2tEhmzd3J

[NOTE from William Lewis, 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."] 

[QUOTE: "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.]

See this link for guidelines for Best Management Practices.

See this link for more information on Africanized Honey Bees

L.A. Backyard Beekeeping Picking Up Buzz

Los Angeles Times    By Emily Alpert Reyes   2/12/14

Keeping bees is officially banned in L.A.'s residential neighborhoods, but widely tolerated. Now the City Council is exploring regulations to permit home beekeeping. 

When Max Wong first "outed" herself to her neighbors, she wondered when the police would be knocking on her door. Until then, she had kept her passion a secret.

But Wong said most of her Mount Washington neighbors were simply puzzled. Beekeeping? Illegal? In Los Angeles?

"It's the yummiest way of breaking the law," said Wong, one of the backyard beekeepers who is pushing for Los Angeles to allow apiaries in residential zones. In a city so proud of its orange trees and urban greenery, "beekeeping should never have been illegal," she said.

Under Los Angeles codes, beekeeping isn't allowed in residential zones like her Mount Washington yard, according to city planning officials. Backyard beekeeping has nonetheless blossomed as Angelenos worried about honeybee health or devoted to urban farming have started tending hives at home. Now backyard beekeepers want Los Angeles to follow in the footsteps of New York and Santa Monica, spelling out rules to let people keep bees in residential neighborhoods.

If Los Angeles gives backyard beekeepers the stamp of approval, "they can come out of the closet, so to speak," said William Lewis, president of the California State Beekeepers Assn. "They won't need to fear that a neighbor will force them to move their hives."

The City Council took its first step Wednesday toward exploring the idea, asking staffers to draft a report. At a news conference before the meeting, Councilman Paul Koretz argued that urban beekeeping was especially needed in the face of colony collapse disorder, which has devastated agricultural hives that pollinate avocados, almonds and other crucial crops.

"If you care about blueberries," Councilman Mike Bonin added, "you care about this."

Not everyone was convinced that new rules were needed. Southern California beekeeper Dael Wilcox argued that backyard beekeeping wasn't actually illegal, just not spelled out in law, and that the city should keep it that way. So far, complaints about managed hives have been so rare that the city doesn't track them in their own category, Department of Building and Safety spokesman Luke Zamperini said.

Other beekeepers countered that regulations would get rid of any "gray area" and ensure that hives were tended safely. Santa Monica approved such rules three years ago, restricting backyard beekeepers to no more than two hives and regulating how and where the hives could be placed near property lines. New York set forth its own rules even earlier, much to the chagrin of locals who argue that Los Angeles should have led the way.

"We should at least keep up with New York City on things like this, if not surpass them!" said Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council President Nina Zippay, whose group backs urban beekeeping.

Beekeeping seems to have boomed in recent years. Lewis said that when he started keeping bees in the Los Angeles area, fewer than a dozen people showed up at local beekeeping meetings. Last month the number was near 70, he said. Rob McFarland, co-founder of the Los Angeles beekeeping nonprofit HoneyLove, estimated that Los Angeles beekeepers number "somewhere in the thousands." Swelling interest in sustainability has driven the trend.

"If we can protect honeybees," McFarland said, "we can go a long way in protecting our ecosystems."

On his Del Rey rooftop, McFarland pried open a hive Tuesday to show a reporter rows of wooden frames coated with bees, moseying over honeycomb. He estimates as many as 30,000 bees call it home, but neighbors and bypassers would scarcely know it was there if he hadn't told them about it. In Santa Monica, police and city officials said backyard beekeeping hadn't caused any serious problems.

The idea still stirs up fears. City Council member Bernard Parks asked city staffers to make sure the report explains how hazards and potential health issues such as bee allergies would be addressed. Before the meeting, McFarland argued that beekeeping would actually diminish those threats, because people were less likely to be stung by a "managed colony" than by untended bees. Koretz and other backers also said that worries about aggressive Africanized bees, a concern raised by some biologists and critics, were overblown because such bees had long since interbred.

Experienced beekeepers know how to handle a hive that turns aggressive, but "the worry is if someone just doesn't pay attention," UCLA ecology professor Peter Nonacs said.

Besides exploring backyard beekeeping, the City Council also voted to instruct the Bureau of Street Services, which handles calls about unwanted hives, to promote alternatives to extermination such as relocating "nuisance" hives. It also threw its support behind a federal bill calling for certain pesticides to be suspended until they were proved not to harm bees and other pollinators.

"If we don't vote for it," Councilman Mitchell Englander joked before the unanimous vote, "it'll be a buzz kill."

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-0213-bees-20140213,0,6217453.story#ixzz2tEgddalE

[NOTE from William Lewis, 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."] 

[QUOTE: "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.]

See this link for guidelines for Best Management Practices.

See this link for more information on Africanized Honey Bees

Los Angeles Considers Legalizing Urban Beekeeping

laist.com  2/12/14

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 beekeepersactually 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.

Read more... http://laist.com/2014/02/12/urban_beekeeping_could_be_legal_in.php

Battle Over Beekeeping In Los Angeles

MSN Entertainment    2/12/14

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.

[NOTE from William Lewis, 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."] 

"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.

See this link for guidelines for Best Management Practices.

See this link for more information on Africanized Honey Bees

It's Confirmed - February 12th is Bee Day in the City of LA

[NOTE from William Lewis, President of the California Staqte 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."] 

WORKS is pairing up with HoneyLove to support passage of the bee legislation coming to vote on February 12th

Hi All -

If you care about bees and I know you do, then next Wednesday, February 12th is an important day to turn out to City Hall.  If you or anyone you know can attend, please let me know me.  We would like to share with Andy Shrader from Councilmember Koretz's know how many of our Urban Ag Friends plan to attend.   

Here is the information on the press event and council motions.  Please pass it on!

LA City Council is voting on 3 pending bee measures on February 12th.  If you haven't been following the issue, "colony collapse disorder" has been devastating bee colonies around the country.  Bottom line, we need bees to pollinate our food crops.  And our flowers.  

LA currently has a healthy honey bee population and we want to keep it that way.

 Press event:

 When: February 12th, 2014   9:15am
 Where: Los Angeles City Hall, Spring Street Steps forecourt
 Who: Councilmembers Koretz, Bonin, likely Huizar...
 Rob and Chelsea MacFarland: http://honeylove.org/team/
 Urban farmers (invited, but not confirmed)
 What: To talk up these measures in support of bees: 

#1: LEGALIZE URBAN BEEKEEPING IN LOS ANGELES
http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=12-0785

#2: SAVING AMERICA'S POLLINATORS ACT
http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=13-0002-S134

#3 HUMANE POLICY FOR LIVE BEE REMOVAL
http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=13-1660

From:  Francesca de la Rosa, Director of Policy and Strategic Alliances
Women Organizing Resources, Knowledge and Services (WORKS)
795 N. Avenue 50   Los Angeles, CA   90042
213-446-4522 (phone)
fdelarosa@worksusa.org
www.worksusa.org 

(Note: The Planning and Land Use Management Committee's (PLUMC) recommendation is that the council forward the issue to the Department of City Planning and Department of Animal Services for analysis/recommendations and report back to the PLUMC within 60 days.

 

 

KCRW: Making LA a Bee-Friendly City

KCRW   By Saul Gonzalez   1/31/14 

“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/

City Council Schedule for Urban Beekeeping Vote

From LACBA Secretary, Stacy McKenna:

The city clerk's file for the motion to legalize urban beekeeping in the city of Los Angeles can be found at:

The city clerk's file for the motion to legalize urban beekeeping in the city of Los Angeles can be found at:
It is currently scheduled for the February 12, 2014 council meeting if people are interested in attending. (info found on the left hand column under "File Activities")
----
The Planning and Land Use Management Committee's (PLUMC) recommendation is that the council forward the issue to the Department of City Planning and Department of Animal Services for analysis/recommendations and report back to the PLUMC within 60 days.
(You can also find these links on this website on both the left and right sidebars under Urban Beekeeping.)

 

February 4, 2014: Bee Press Event at Los Angeles City Hall

From Andy Shrader from Councilmember Paul Koretz's office:

We will be addressing the three pending bee measures in City Council on February 4th.

1) Please Save the Date! for a big bee press event and send to other interested folks:
When: February 4th, 2014
           9:15am
Where: Los Angeles City Hall
           (outside, location to be confirmed)
Who: Councilmember Koretz and likely others
What: To encourage the City Council to approve these measures for the support of bees:

urban beekeeping [CD11], 
http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=12-0785

Saving the Pollinator's Act, [CD5]
http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=13-0002-S134

Huizar's motion on humane alternatives for bee removal
http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=13-1660 

2) Please send letters of support for the measures if you haven't before.
Thanks much!

 

Legalize Beekeeping, L.A.

The Los Angeles Times    By The Times editorial board   12/27/13 

Los Angeles should follow the lead of other major cities and draft rules that allow residents to keep bees, while providing some common-sense protections for neighbors. There's already an established backyard beekeeping community in Los Angeles despite the fact that it is not legal. The growing urban agriculture movement has spurred more interest in homegrown hives (in part because the bees are needed to pollinate the new urban crops) and more confusion over what is and isn't allowed.

New York City allowed illicit apiarists to come out of the shadows in 2010, and since then hobbyists have established hives on building roofs and in backyards. The city set basic rules: Colonies must be in well-maintained, movable frame hives with a constant water source, in a location that doesn't pose a nuisance. Beekeepers file a one-page hive registration form with the city health department each year.

Santa Monica permitted beekeeping in 2011 with similar requirements. Residents are allowed two hives per backyard, and the hives must be at least five feet from the property lines. Apiarists who don't follow the rules or who let their hives become a nuisance to neighbors face fines or misdemeanor charges.

Both cities said they've had no major problems; beekeepers have largely followed the rules or moved their hives in response to complaints. And city officials said there's been a benefit: a larger network of amateur beekeepers to call upon to remove swarms rather than exterminate them.

There will understandably be some concern and fear from neighbors — a swarm of feral honeybees can look like something out of a horror movie. Beekeeping experts say there are already lots of naturally occurring, unmanaged hives in the region. A managed hive in which bees have adequate food and space is less likely to produce a swarm.

We need bees. We want more bees. It's time to legalize beekeeping.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-beekeeping-20131227,0,360002.story#ixzz2ohhxSJDr

The STNC Supports Urban Beekeeping

On Wednesday, December 11, 2013 the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council voted to approve a motion to support beekeeping and to submit a Community Impact Statement to the LA City Council in accordance with the provisions of "Best Management Practices for Maintaining Local European Honey Bee Colonies."

 

Legalizing Beekeeping in Los Angeles: City Council Looks Into Urban Beekeeping Ordinance

Pacific Palisades Patch   By Alexander Nguyen   12/11/13

The Planning and Land Use Management Committee directed city staff to study the idea and report back in two months.


The Planning and Land Use Management Committee directed city staff to report back in two months on the best ways to allow "beekeeping" activity in single-family residential areas.

Council members who last year proposed overturning the city's prohibition on beekeeping in those areas said promoting the practice will "foster a healthier bee population."

The bee population has been reported to be "in steep decline," prompting concerns that the local economy and the state's agricultural industry would be negatively affected, according to a related motion introduced Tuesday by Councilman Jose Huizar.

His motion calls for city staff to come up with "humane and non-lethal" ways to relocate or remove unwanted bee hives to serve as alternatives to existing methods used by government agencies, "given the usefulness of bees to California's agricultural industry and the growing popularity of urban beekeeping."

— City News Service

http://pacificpalisades.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/city-council-looks-into-urban-beekkeeping-ordinance

 

Legalizing Beekeeping in Los Angeles & Sunland-Tujunga & Best Management Practices

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10 at 2:30PM - CITY OF LOS ANGELESThe Planning and Land Use Management Committee is discussing the issue of urban beekeeping in R1 zones should anyone wants to be there to observe/provide input.

BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS 
EDWARD R. ROYBAL HEARING 
ROOM 350 
200 NORTH SPRING STREET, LOS ANGELES, CA 90012

http://www.lacity.org/government/PublicMeetings/index.htm

http://ens.lacity.org/clk/committeeagend/clkcommitteeagend2685311_12102013.pdf

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11 at 7:00PM - SUNLAND-TUJUNGA:

Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council GENERAL BOARD SPECIAL MEETING AGENDA
North Valley Neighborhood City Hall
7747 Foothill Blvd., Tujunga, CA 91042
7:00PM: Meeting 6:30PM – Meet & Greet 

(The following is from Bill Lewis, President, California State Beekeepers Association and past President of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association.)

WHEREAS the public safety hazard from Africanized Honey Bee (AHB) is becoming widespread in California and

WHEREAS beekeepers can effectively make captured AHB colonies gentle by re-queening them with European honey bee queens, and

WHEREAS widespread use of this process would be beneficial to the public, beekeepers, and the image of beekeeping,

BE IT RESOLVED that the following “Best Management Practices” be implemented wherever honey bees are legal to be kept. 

“Best Management Practices for Maintaining European Honey Bee Colonies” 

1)      Abide by and remain in compliance with all state and local laws as they pertain to honey bees.

2)      Avoid keeping colonies of any race of bee other than European races (EHB).

3)      Report all colonies suspected of being non-EHB race to the County Agricultural Commissioner and submit samples of these to the County Ag Department if requested.

4)      Re-queen all colonies which are overly defensive with marked queens of known genetics from breeders located outside of Africanized Honey Bee (AHB) infested areas. See map: http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/docs.htm?docid=11059&page=6

5)      Re-queen and destroy all drones (male brood) in colonies found not to be EHB, so as not to propagate non EHB bees.

6)      Depopulate all colonies determined to be a pure or hybrid race other than EHB.

7)      Ensure that all queens are purchased from outside AHB suspected or detected areas.

8)      Ensure that all colonies are positioned in such a way as to ensure flyways are more than 6 feet above the ground when they cross property lines.

9)      Maintain all apiaries at least 10’ away from property lines and ensure all colonies within 40’ of property lines are placed behind a six foot barrier that would prevent direct access to the colonies from the property line.

10)  When maintaining colonies within 200 feet of property line, provide and maintain a water source within 50 feet or approximately the distance to the nearest unnatural water source not in control of the beekeeper (whichever is closest).

11)  Not maintain an apiary within 50 feet of any tethered or kenneled animal.

12)  Not manage or disturb colonies if neighbors or the general public are participating in outside activities or using machinery within 75 feet of the apiary.

13)  In the event that a county in which bees are kept is declared an AHB suspected or detected area:

a)      beekeeper will re-queen all colonies in my operation with marked queens of known genetics from breeders located outside of Africanized Honey Bee (AHB) infested areas.

b)      Provide the name and contact information of all suppliers from which beekeeper purchased queens.

c)      Kill all swarms caught or trapped in the county, or replace the queens of all swarms caught or trapped with marked queens of known genetics as described above.

14) Maintain at least one bait hive in each apiary.