Neighborhood Councils Creating Buzz for Urban Bee Keeping

NEIGHBORHOODS LA-In cities like New York, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Portland, Paris, London, Tokyo, or Vancouver, bees call urban hives home. Santa Monica and Redondo Beach voted to make urban beekeeping legal. What’s all the buzz about? 


Some folks really enjoy keeping bees on their property. For others, it’s more than a hobby. After all, bees are a vital part of our food system, and there’s been a disturbing trend of decline in honeybee colonies recent years. 

In Los Angeles, the story plays out differently. As it turns out, LA is proving to be an ideal stomping ground for feral bees, where pollen and nectar are available year-round. 

But the law in Los Angeles is not explicit about urban beekeeping. And if bees are spotted on public property in LA and a resident complains to the city, there’s only one course of action–the bees are exterminated. 

In an urban environment such as Los Angeles, there are an average of nine to eleven bee colonies per square mile. These are typically unmanaged colonies that make their home in utility boxes, sheds, inside walls, resulting in distress calls that prompt extermination. When Urban Beekeepers manage bee colonies, the number of colonies will still average nine to eleven per square mile, the difference is simply unmanaged versus managed colonies. 

In response to organizations such as HoneyLove and Backwards Beekeepers, sixteen Neighborhood Councils have taken action by supporting a new city ordinance that allows residents to raise their own honeybees. 

Chelsea McFarland of HoneyLove is working with several Neighborhood Councils to make the case for urban gardening. Hers is one of a few groups in Los Angeles, including Backwards Beekeepers, who are rescuing and relocating feral bees in the city, as well as educating people on urban beekeeping and the benefits of bees. 

Currently the urban beekeeping motion, Council File 12-0785, is in the Planning and Use Management Committee   headed by Councilmember Jose Huizar. 

NCs that have taken action in support of urban beekeeping:

1.Mar Vista (11/8/11)
2. Del Rey (12/8/11)
3. Greater Griffith Park (1/17/12)
4. South Robertson (1/19/12)
5. Silver Lake (3/7/12)
6. Hollywood United (3/19/12)
7. Atwater Village (4/12/12)
8. West Los Angeles (6/27/12)
9. Boyle Heights (7/25/12)
10. Lake Balboa (8/1/12)
11. Chatsworth (9/5/12)
12. Palms (4/3/3)
13. Westside (5/9/13)
14. Historic Highland Park (5/16/13)
15. Bel Air-Beverly Crest (7/24/13)
16. Van Nuys (8/14/13)


(Stephen Box is the director of Outreach and Communication at EmpowerLA.)






Vol 11 Issue 83

Pub: Oct 15, 2013