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

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.