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How to coexist with bees and wasps

Coexist bees wasps

For many of us, if we hear a buzzing or see a bee or wasp, our first reaction is to try to move away—or even get rid of the offending insect.

First, it’s important to know that there’s not just one type of bee or one type of wasp. In fact, there are over 20,000 species of bees and over 30,000 species of wasps. The most notable of those bee types is, of course, the honeybee. That is essential to crops—bees pollinate more than half of all our fruit and vegetable crops, and also produce millions of pounds of honey each year.
Bees congregate in what can be huge colonies, up to tens of thousands of bees, while wasps tend to be less communal in their living patterns. Even within the wasps species though, some are more solitary than others—as are some bees.
Once you learn a little about bees and wasps, you can then learn how to live more harmoniously with those insects. This graphic can help.


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READ: 7 beneficial insects for garden pest control

by Sam —

In the past decade, the plight of the honey bees has become a very important issue, and rightly so, as they play an essential part in the growth of crops and produce. Many do not realize that bees aren’t just there to produce honey. They also play an important part in pollinating surrounding crops. One way in which we are affecting the bee population is through the use of chemical pesticide. As tempting as it is to use such a method to eradicate pests in your backyard, it should be noted that not only is pesticide harmful to the bees, they are also harmful to you as well. If you are a gardener who wants to use a natural method to control pests then consider using beneficial insects instead.

Beneficial Insects

As the name implies, beneficial insects are bugs that can help eradicate common garden pests without doing any damage to your garden produce. Not all insects are bad. There are many such as those listed in the infographic that can be very effective at getting rid of common pests like aphids, caterpillars, and mites. Who knew the beautiful ladybug could be so effective at getting rid of aphid infestations in the garden? Outside of being an organic choice, using beneficial insects can also be a great way to save money. Chemical pesticide is only going to get more expensive moving forward so why not use a method that takes advantage of the existing natural resource around you? If you are lucky then some of the beneficial insects could be native to the area you live in so all you have to do is to make your garden an attractive area for them to roam. One final thing to keep in mind is that there really isn’t a way for pests to resist. According to the Pesticide Action Network, more and more insects and weed species are developing resistance against pesticide. With beneficial insects, however, the pests are being eaten so they have nowhere to go but to their doom.

If you are a gardener or homeowner with a backyard then take action now. Help sustain the local population of bees in your area before it’s too late. Even if you don’t own a garden, you could still play a part by educating others around you.

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email via HoneyLover Jim Montgomery

The city council approved the ordinance last night, 6-1!!!!  All were in favor except for Councilmember Heidi Ashcraft.    (The link for the ordinance is here).  Beekeeping on single family residences is no longer illegal in Torrance. That is the good news, the bad news is the process is more complicated and costly than I would have liked.  I would have liked to see beekeeping allowed by right as is the case in Redondo Beach, but in Torrance we will have to submit a Special Animal Permit along with an $80 application fee.
In addition, when you apply your surrounding neighbors will be notified of your application and will have up to 10 calendar days to object.  If this occurs, your application will be suspended and you can appeal the objection to the Torrance Environmental Quality and Energy Conservation commission along with, I believe, a $70 appeal fee.
If there is no objection, or there is an objection and you win the appeal and the SAP is approved there is still one more potential hurdle. Anyone, anywhere in the city of Torrance can appeal the decision.  They would be on the hook for this $70 appeal fee, not you since the SAP has been approved at this point.   If there was no objection by your neighbors, the appeal goes to the TEQECC as above.  If it had been objected to and you won your appeal at the TEQECC, the appeal would then go to the city council to be heard.  The decision of the council will be final with no further ability to appeal either by you or anyone else.
A few of the council members spoke in favor of allowing beekeeping by right (Councilmembers Goodrich and Griffiths) but there was sufficient concern raised by others that in order to secure enough votes to pass the ordinance, the compromise to allow this objection/appeal process was put in place.  I spoke with the staffer who largely wrote the ordinance to voice my concern about this process that it is likely that at least one of your neighbors is going to object out of fear, spite or just because it is easier to say no than yes.  He acknowledged that but said if you follow the regulations of the ordinance and the objection is not based upon something substantial like a medically certified bee sting allergy, the thought is that the TEQECC or council would take that into account when hearing the appeal and likely approve the application.
The TEQECC voted 6-1 to pass the ordinance to council and the council voted 6-1 to approve the ordinance so I suspect that an application will be approved by them unless an objector has a significant objection and not just they don’t want a neighbor to have bees.
Take the time to read the ordinance and let me know if you have any questions.   The Special Animal Permit is not in place yet so I do not yet think you can apply, I will update folks when I hear more about the process to apply.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to getting an ordinance passed to legalize beekeeping in Torrance!
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Honeybees Hard at Work

Honeybees at work producing honey combs in the “hive body” at the La Canada Flintridge home of Max DeBrouwer. Worker honeybees raised during the spring or summer months may live for 6 or 7 weeks. Their lives are especially busy, with lots of hungry larvae to feed, and honeycomb to be produce. (Photo by James Carbone for the Los Angeles Daily News)

By Suzanne Sproul, via Los Angeles Daily News Home & Garden

Have you heard the latest buzz? Los Angeles has laid out the backyard welcome mat for honeybees.

Urban beekeepers couldn’t be happier. After several years of discussion, lawmakers recently joined an increasing number of cities, including Santa Monica, Redondo Beach and Culver City, in attempts to help protect them.

Honeybee fans are thrilled, but some people still worry about safety concerns, particularly for those with bee allergies. The new ordinance requires urban beekeepers to register their hives with Los Angeles County, regulates their distance from property boundaries and nearby streets and calls for them to be kept high above ground and surrounded by a structure, such as a wall or hedge. Typically, only two hives would be allowed at a residence.

“We are very happy that more people and cities are recognizing the importance of honeybees, but everyone should know they’re already here. On average in Los Angeles, there are nine to 11 colonies per square mile. The honeybees live in attics, trees and everywhere, so it’s not that we’re bringing in more. We’re simply trying to protect the ones here,” said Chelsea McFarland, an urban beekeeper along with her husband and the chief executive officer of HoneyLove, a nonprofit in Santa Monica.


[read full article via]

Read full story · Posted in HoneyLove Buzz, HoneyLove Interviews, Yay Bees

Winter Bees and Oak Leaves

 Winter Bees Winter Bees CU

Winter in most climates is the hardest on bees. Temperatures fluctuate and create humidity in the hive. Some beekeepers have had success controlling this with a layer of oak leaves between their inner cover and telescoping top. NASA uses oak leaves to control humidity in telescopes, and it seems to work great for bees too!

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Save the Bees BOOK!

Save The Bees Book

We are so excited!! Rob & Chelsea McFarland (founders of HoneyLove) WROTE A BEEKEEPING BOOK! It’s a great primer for anyone interested in treatment-free beekeeping, and a good read for established beekeepers.

Learn more here and SPREAD THE BUZZ!


Check out some of the book reviews!

Michael Bush author of THE PRACTICAL BEEKEEPER:
“Rob and Chelsea have a beautiful positive energy that shines out in all their work, including this book. The writing is lyrical, detailed, informative and practical. Save the Bees starts from the perspective of the complete beginner and offers insight and instruction in a very readable, understandable and entertaining way with gorgeous pictures to illustrate it. But best of all, it’s about how to keep bees naturally – no treatments, no chemicals. This is a delightful and insightful book from delightful and insightful people.”

Noah Wilson-Rich, Ph.D Founder & Chief Scientific Officer, THE BEST BEES COMPANY and author of THE BEE:
“What a fantastic book! It’s important, accessible, accurate, enjoyable and filled with experience. Anybody serious about modern beekeeping should read this.”

The Easy and Treatment-Free Way to Attract and Keep Healthy Bees
By Rob and Chelsea McFarland, Founders of 

From 1947 to present day, the number of honeybee colonies has declined by more than a whopping 50 percent. Bees and other pollinators are one of the most critical components to our food supply – if they disappear, so do we.

That jarring statistic, paired with an awe-inspiring and completely serendipitous encounter with a swarm of honeybees one afternoon, was enough for Rob and Chelsea McFarland to leave their stressful lives running a technology start-up and dive into the world of honeybees. Like Rob and Chelsea like to say, “You don’t choose to be a beekeeper, the bees choose you.”

Their chance encounter led to forays in urban beekeeping, and eventually, to running HoneyLove, a non-profit dedicated to educating and inspiring urban beekeeping to save the bees for future generations. Now, SAVE THE BEES WITH NATURAL BACKYARD HIVES is an extension of that philosophy. It’s Rob and Chelsea sharing all the wisdom from the ancient practice of beekeeping in a way that is fresh, modern, and easy for anyone to do.

Save the Bees with Natural Backyard Hives breaks down the complexity of beekeeping so you can learn step-by-step how to acquire a colony, care for it, and reap the reward – both for you and future generations. Like Rob and Chelsea write in the book’s introduction, “We figured that if we could inspire people living in cities around the world to welcome bees and beekeepers into their communities, we could help clean up our urban environments, promote sustainable living, advance urban agriculture and empower people with the idea that they can make a difference in their own backyards.”

Save the Bees with Natural Backyard Hives provides a how-to primer on an alternative approach to the established, chemical-based way of beekeeping. This all-natural approach is laid out in the first chapter, Principles of Treatment – Free Beekeeping and How it Will Save the Bees. Treatment-free beekeepers believe that chemicals make bees more vulnerable to the very problems like mites and microbes they were aimed at solving, which is why this philosophy is fundamental to the rest of the book.

From there, the book progresses with chapters: Beekeeping Basics, Acquiring Honeybees is Simple, and Getting to Know Your Superorganisms. In chapter five, Bee Success, Rob and Chelsea explain how to be aware of common problems (and how to fix them, too). They provide equipment checklists; explain how to inspect for disease, and of course, how to keep the Queen happy.

Other critical chapters include, Nectar Flow, Beebread and What to Feed Your Bees, with useful information on a healthy diet, the baggie feeder approach, and tips on planting pollinator forage. Now, after eight other chapters for success, Rob and Chelsea get to one of the many rewards of beekeeping: the Honey Harvest chapter. They include sections on escape boards for honey extraction, photo diagrams of the bottling process, and even notes on honey tasting and variation.

One of the biggest takeaways from Save the Bees is that the art of beekeeping and bee culture is an evolving education, which is why Rob and Chelsea end the book by saying, “My hope is that you will continue to read and learn about bees, take in all kinds of perspectives, resist confirmation bias and be open to ideas about solutions even if they challenge what you think you know.”

Available online through the retailers below and wherever books are sold:


Barnes & Noble:

Google Play:






Book Depository:

Read full story · Posted in News, Yay Bees

It is a DONE DEAL!!

Mayor Eric Garcetti just signed the ordinance to LEGALIZE URBAN BEEKEEPING in Los Angeles!!

Big thank you to all the LA council members, planning department, city staff, community councils and dedicated HoneyLovers who helped us to get here—YAY BEES and YAY BEEKEEPERS <3!!!

Related posts:
Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance Update
LA City Council legalizes urban beekeeping today!

Read full story · Posted in HoneyLove Buzz, HoneyLovin, News, Yay Bees

Cello music for hives

On a beautiful Indian Summer Sunday, Cellist Jordan Hamilton offers a winter blessing for the hives—Enjoy! 

Read full story · Posted in Yay Bees

LA City Council legalizes urban beekeeping today!

Organization: HoneyLove
Email: info [at]
Contact: (424) 625-8233

PRESS RELEASE—For Immediate Release

Los Angeles urban beekeepers finally realize legalization at City Hall
LA City Council unanimously approves backyard beekeeping ordinance today.

After four years of public outreach, education and grassroots efforts[1] across every part of the city spearheaded by local non-profit, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved urban beekeeping today by a vote of 15 to 0. Los Angeles hobbyist beekeepers can finally join most every other major metropolitan city on the globe with fully legal hives in their backyards.

Most cities have already legalized urban beekeeping including Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, Culver City, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, Paris, London; the list goes on. The legalization effort in Los Angeles, led by HoneyLove, began in November 2011. The group rallied its volunteer beekeeper-members to educate the public and collect thousands of petition signatures both in person and online. They visited over 20 neighborhood councils to garner motions in support of beekeeping and raised awareness through outreach at public events, with local groups and schools and by way of countless articles, radio and TV interviews, Youtube videos, hands-on workshops and monthly newsletters.


Report from City Attorney

“The proposed ordinance amends the LAMC to allow beekeeping in the RA, RE, RS and R1 zones. It adds definitions and standards to the sections of the LAMC that regulate the uses (including accessory uses, of which backyard beekeeping would be considered) in those zones. The standards are intended to prevent backyard beekeeping activity from becoming disruptive to occupants of neighboring properties while allowing backyard apiaries to thrive and improve the surrounding environment. For example, the proposed ordinance requires the placement of a solid barrier at least six feet in height between hives and an adjacent lot in order to direct the flight of bees to a higher level when departing their hives. Additionally, a water source must be maintained on the property where the hives are located in order to discourage bees from seeking water sources on neighboring properties.

The proposed ordinance also limits the number of hives allowed per 2,500 feet of lot area and prohibits the placement of hives in front yards. It restricts the placement of hives to at least five feet from front, side and rear lot lines and at least twenty feet from public rights-of-way or private streets and requires that hive entrances face away from or be parallel to the nearest lot line adjacent to another lot. Finally, any person interested in backyard beekeeping must be registered as a beekeeper with the County of Los Angeles Agricultural Commission before engaging in beekeeping activities on his or her property.”[2]


“When HoneyLove came to me two years ago, I was proud to lead the effort to legalize beekeeping,” said Councilmember Huizar. “We are working to become a more sustainable City to confront the environmental crises of today, and bees, and beekeepers, are a part of the solution. It’s time to support beekeeping in the City of Los Angeles’ residential neighborhoods, which will help our bee population and make the City safer and greener.”

“This arose from the neighborhood council system,” said Councilmember Koretz, who took up support of the motion when Bill Rosendahl termed out.  “It started in Mar Vista, was vetted through the NCs—over twenty neighborhood councils from throughout the city have sent in their support.  Bees are dying worldwide—in LA we’re putting out the welcome mat.  They are vital to our survival.”

“Very excited for Mar Vista residents to learn that what started as a sustainable initiative for their small residential community has grown into a citywide effort to help save the honey bees across this great city…one healthy hive at a time!”  adds Maritza Przekop, City Planning Associate at City of Los Angeles and early proponent of the ordinance in Mar Vista.

“There are so many environmental reasons to support urban beekeeping but there is also a really critical safety element. When beekeeping is legal, then feral hives can be properly managed which makes our city safer” says Meghan Sahli-Wells, Current Councilmember and former Mayor of Culver City.

Their advocacy for the honeybee is echoed by HoneyLove co-founder and author of the new book “Save the Bees,”[3] Rob McFarland. “Bees are an essential part of our food system. According to the USDA, bees are responsible for the production of about a third of our diet. In addition, bees are a boon to local gardeners and urban farmers. As you may be aware, honeybees worldwide are in crisis, falling prey to the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder at an alarming rate, making beekeeping a serious food security issue.”

HoneyLove member, beekeeper and film producer Max Wong, who helped shepherd legalization in Santa Monica, states that “Honeybees are such effective pollinators that they are able to increase agricultural yield by 30 to 60 percent. This increase in productivity in an urban garden can mean the difference between a family needing food assistance and a family that can pull itself out of poverty, and even participate in a local, green economy. Urban beekeeping is a powerful tool that we can use to help provide food security for our most vulnerable neighbors. Honeybees enable people of all economic levels to eat better and have the empowering and deeply satisfying experience of successfully growing their own food.”

“It’s great to see Los Angeles catching up with all the other great cities of the world in making beekeeping legal. The City Planning department did a great job in crafting a common sense set of regulations. Now that the City Council approved the changes to the code, we can get on with the work of saving bees and creating a city friendly to pollinators,” says Erik Knutzen, co-author of The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (2008) and Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World (2011), also a Los Angeles Resident and urban beekeeper.

The most common concern about honey bees is bee stings. Honey bees are not aggressive by nature and are unlikely to sting. Only 0.4% of Americans report an allergy to insect stings in the U.S. and almost none of these are caused by honey bees [but by other stinging insects]. In addition, less than 1% of the US population is at risk of systemic reaction to stings by honey bees. Severe reactions from the sting of any one insect in a year are 1 in 5,555,556. The chance that someone will be hit by a car is 59.3% higher.[4]

“I am one of the minuscule percentage of people who is actually systemically allergic to honey bees and I am full support of legalizing urban beekeeping in Los Angeles. Beekeepers are our first line of defense in helping to make the city safer by managing the feral populations of bees that already live naturally in our environment” says Chelsea McFarland, HoneyLove co-founder.

“I am a registered urban beekeeper with two boys—four and eight years old—who have never been stung by any honey bees from our managed hives in our backyard.  Unlike the unmanaged feral hives already existing in Los Angeles[5], my hives are inspected, managed and carefully looked after. Having more educated beekeepers will, in fact, provide a safer environment for everyone,” states Paul Hekimian, Santa Monica Resident, beekeeper and HoneyLove Board Member.

About HoneyLove

HoneyLove is a Los Angeles based 501(c)3 non-profit conservation organization with a mission to protect the honeybees by educating our communities and inspiring new urban beekeepers. Founded in 2011, HoneyLove believes that the city is the last refuge of the honeybee. Our home gardens are generally free of pesticides, and in cities like Los Angeles, there is year-round availability of pollen and nectar for the honeybees!  Learn more about HoneyLove’s events and services at





[5] 9-11 colonies of bees per square mile was a stat given by LA County Agricultural Commissioner during the Mar Vista Beekeeping Feasibility Study in 2011 –

Full PRESS RELEASE linked below:

Read full story · Posted in HoneyLove Buzz, News, Yay Bees



It began way back in November 2011 at the Mar Vista Community Council…

For years we collected thousands of petition signatures both in person and online

We inspired 20+ motions in support of beekeeping from Los Angeles neighborhood councils…

Raised awareness through countless articles, tv/radio interviews, outreach presentations to local groups and schools…

And now beeks, this is the last and final vote when the Los Angeles City Council has the chance to legalize urban beekeeping in our fair city!


We are item #22 on the agenda. Meeting begins at 10 a.m. Plan accordingly.

**Remember to wear your HoneyLove t-shirts or Yellow & Black! Time to show up and celebrate!!

Read full story · Posted in News, Yay Bees