Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance Passed By City Council

LA City Council   By Katherine Peterson  October 15, 2015

The Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance (CPC-2015-578-CA, Council File No. CF 12-0785) was unanimously adopted by the City Council yesterday, Wednesday, October 14, 2015. The Ordinance received 15 “Yes” votes and 0 “No” votes.  For more details or to review/download documents submitted to the City Clerk, including the City Planning Commission Staff Report and action, please refer to the online Council File at the following link:

Feel free to forward this information to anyone you feel might be interested. If you received this email via forwarded message from someone else, and you would like to receive updates directly from the Planning Department, please email and ask to be added to the interest list. Please type “Add Me to Backyard Beekeeping Notification List” in the subject line and provide your group/organization/company affiliations and contact information (please include at least your zip code).

What’s Next?

According to Section 250 of the City Charter, the Mayor has 10 days to act on the ordinance, meaning he can act on it on the same day, or 10 days later. Assuming the Mayor approves it, the City Clerk’s Office will then post the adopted Ordinance for a period of 10 days and a 30-day effective date will begin after that. Simply put, the earliest an Ordinance can realistically go into effect is 40 to 50 days after it is adopted by the City Council. When we have an effective date, we will notify the individuals on this interest list by email. 

Backyard Beekeeping OK'd By City of Los Angeles

“To bee or not to bee, that is the question. But there is no question. We must have bees,” Councilman Paul Koretz said, just before the council voted unanimously in favor of legalizing beekeeping in Los Angeles backyards.

Koretz said bees “do especially well in Los Angeles,” and today’s move could help address bee colony collapse disorder, which has claimed about a third of the global bee population.

Councilman Jose Huizar, who chairs a committee that advanced the ordinance, called the regulations “a great victory for bees, beekeepers and our environment.”

City leaders and members of HoneyLove, a nonprofit that promotes beekeeping, said the activity aids urban farming efforts such as community gardens. They also said urban areas offer a pesticide-free environment for insects that are critical to the health of agriculture and plants.

“Today’s vote was a long time in the making. We’ve been working on this for about four years now, and we are as excited and happy as we possibly could be,” said HoneyLove co-founder Rob McFarland.

The ordinance allows no more than one hive per 2,500 square feet per lot area to be kept in the backyards of single-family homes citywide. Front yard beekeeping is barred by the ordinance.

It also sets buffer zones and areas on a property where hives can be kept, and requires that beekeepers raise walls or hedges high enough to ensure bees need to fly up before leaving the backyard.

A water source also needs to be maintained near the hives so the bees would not need to venture outside of the beekeeper’s backyard to get hydrated, under the rules.

The backyard beekeepers also need to register with the County of Los Angeles Agricultural Commission.

The commission has 129 beekeepers registered with 219 locations countywide, according to commission spokesman Ken Pellman. Of those registered, 39 are commercial beekeepers, which means they have eight or more hives.

The Planning Department and the City Attorney’s Office drafted the proposed rules after the City Council ordered a study last February into ways to legalize backyard beekeeping. The move came in response to a campaign started in 2011 by residents of the Mar Vista community and supported by then- Councilman Bill Rosendahl.

Other council members in the past have voiced concerns that the bees could pose a danger to residents, with then-Councilman Bernard Parks referring to the National Geographic documentary “Attack of the Killer Bees,” about a dangerous variety of bees encroaching into the southern part of the United States.

Planning officials who consulted bee experts over the last year wrote in a recent city report that the variety of honey bees typically used in beekeeping are “non-aggressive” but may “sting in self-defense of their hive if it is approached.”

When the bees leave their hives to collect food -- potentially coming into contact with humans -- they “do not become defensive or aggressive or have reason to sting,” according to the report.

City officials also noted that Los Angeles already averages about eight to 10 feral bee hives per square mile.

The addition of backyard honey bees would not cause a shortage of bee food supply in the city thanks to the area’s steady climate, according to the bee experts consulted by planning officials. But if there were a shortage, the feral populations likely would leave the area to find alternative sources of food supply.


Beekeeping Now Legal For Residential City Of Los Angeles Properties

Los Angeles City Council just voted unanimously to approve the new ordinance permitting beekeeping in City of Los Angeles residential zones. At this point, bees may be kept in the following zones:
Residential: RA, RE, RS, R1
Agricultural: A1, A2
Industrial: MR1, MR2, M1, M2 and M3

Please read the actual ordinance to insure your arrangement complies with all zoning requirements. Please note this includes registering with the County Agricultural Commissioner as a beekeeper. 

The new residential beekeeping ordinance:
Approved uses listed alphabetically (2003):

Move To Okay Bee Hives In LA Back Yards Is Misguided

Western Farm Press in Farm Press Blog   By Tom Fitchette    September 8, 2015

Sometimes being observant means more than just viewing the large font.

Sometimes it means asking questions.

With all the media attention on honeybees there’s little surprise that Los Angeles may legalize backyard beekeeping, according to published reports. Backyard hobbyists could be allowed to try their hand at beekeeping in Los Angeles if the city county passes an ordinance.

Bad idea.

This isn’t an attack on honeybees. It’s a challenge over the lack of common sense displayed by the city council and those proposing this idea.

Let’s just say there are sure to be a host of unintended consequences that could arise from such a move.

What happens if Africanized bees move in? What will these bees forage on in LA’s urban jungle?

Who’s going to oversee these hives? What will their credentials be?

Who's going to tell the neighbor he can't spray his trees with certain chemicals because there's a hive in the adjacent yard?

The ordinance proposes one hive per 2,500 square feet within the backyards of single-family homes.

Do they realize that bees fly?

Proponents say the backyard beehives will aid agriculture. How? Almond trees and melons are not common vegetation in the City of Angels.

Proponents apparently also argue that this will help slow the decline of bees through colony collapse disorder. Really? How?

If the Los Angeles City Council is truly interested in helping agriculture, I’m sure farmers elsewhere in California would welcome their genuine support as financiers of scientific research.

Here’s a thought: start by donating some money – real money – to Huanglongbing (citrus greening) research and other projects aimed at reducing invasive pests and the diseases they can spread.

Since Los Angeles already has a growing number of confirmed cases of citrus greening that’s a real and timely issue, the city council could get behind if it truly wants to help California agriculture.

Allowing bee colonies to be raised in urban and suburban back yards by hobbyists is not a good idea.

Read at:

Backyard Beekeeping in LA City: September 2 - PLUM Committee of City Council

LA City Planning Committee   9/1/2015
City Council will be reviewing the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) recommendation to move the proposed Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance to the City Attorney's Office at tomorrow morning's meeting -- 10 am, Item 15 on the agenda.  The hearing for the ordinance was held during the PLUM meeting and it could go on consent (meaning that they can act on it without discussion), but a Councilmember can call it out for discussion.  Planning staff will be present in case any questions arise. Call into Council Phone at (213) 621-2489 to listen to the meeting, or you can stream video of the meeting.
We apologize for the late notice.
What's Next: City Attorney's Office transmits the final ordinance to PLUM, who will then forward it to the full City Council
The next step will be to wait for the City Attorney's Office to review the Ordinance for form and legality and transmit it back to the PLUM Committee, who will then forward it to the full City Council. While the timeline for these steps is uncertain, the PLUM Committee stated their eagerness to see the Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance move through the process as quickly as possible, which was noted by the City Attorney.
We will notify you when the Ordinance has reached its next milestone.
Thank You