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Tag Archives | beekeeping

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!

Read full story · Posted in Yay Bees

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

READ: The details of the new beekeeping code

Sanctuary Group Jump 2013
by HoneyLover Susan Rudnicki

It is now official! The full city council of Los Angeles unanimously endorsed the new backyard beekeeping code in a 15 to 0 vote. Mayor Garcetti set his signature to clinch the new law, and now we have the largest city in the country covered for keeping backyard hives.        

In case you do not know the specifics set in the code, you may see them here—

The new rules do not specify what sort of bees we may keep nor what kind of hive we must use. The language is concerned mainly with lot line setbacks, alignment of the flightpath and enclosing walls or fences—in other words, land use issues. But with privilege comes responsibility, and one of the very important things to remember is that most of the folks around us will not be keeping bees. Annoying the public will lead to nuisance complaints. We must manage our bees well, giving them regular inspections for space assessments, health, temperament, and  queen viability. Joining up with other members of bee clubs and keeping up with educational advancement will be very important aspects of setting the best impression for calming worried citizens who are not so sure about this new allowance for backyard hives.

There is one part of the code that requires the beekeeper to interact with the officials, and that is this—-The applicant is registered as a beekeeper with the County of Los Angeles Agricultural Commission. Registration is easy, costing only $10 per year per beekeeper. The current apiary inspector, Conrad Burns, is a likable, friendly guy. He is going around to all the backyard beeks to make contact, assess beekeeping knowledge, and trying to help with the success of our model. Please do not neglect this aspect of responsible urban beekeeping—get your hives registered. It creates a impression of legitimacy with the public and can only work to everyone’s benefit.

We have the downloadable form on dropbox for you here—

Send it in and make a renewed pledge to help establish the most vibrant, connected beekeeping community in the country—Los Angeles. Get involved with HoneyLove and make the networking of a like-minded group help you with your beekeeping challenges as well as contribute to our ever present need for folks to help us spread the message. We really need our members to contribute in substantive ways to continue to accomplish the goals.


Susan BIP Scale
Read full story · Posted in Newsletter Articles

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

Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance Update

by Katherine E. Peterson—Los Angeles Department of City Planning

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:

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.

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).

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank you,


Katherine E. Peterson
Code Studies
City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning
Phone: 213-978-1445

Read full story · Posted in News

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

THE WONDERS – Film about a beekeeping family



Watch trailer here:



**Cannes Film Festival 2014 – WINNER – Grand Prix**
**Toronto International Film Festival 2014 (Official Selection)**
**New York Film Festival 2014 (Official Selection)**
**AFI FEST 2014 (Official Selection)**

THE WONDERS, winner of the Grand Prix at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and a standout at the New York Film Festival is young Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher’s (CORPO CELESTE) entrancing, richly textured drama centers on a family of beekeepers living in stark isolation in the Tuscan countryside. The dynamic of their overcrowded household is disrupted by the simultaneous arrival of a silently troubled teenage boy taken in as a farmhand and a reality TV show (featuring a host played by Monica Bellucci) intent on showcasing the family. Both intrusions are of particular interest to the eldest daughter, Gelsomina (Maria Alexandra Lungu), who is struggling to find her footing in the world, and Rohrwacher conveys her adolescent sense of wonder and confusion with graceful naturalism.


THE WONDERS will open in Los Angeles on November 27 (New York on October 30) with a national roll-out to follow.


Written and Directed by Alice Rohrwacher. Produced by Carlo Cresto-Dina, Karl “Baumi” Baumgartner, Tiziana Soudani, Michael Weber. Starring Alba Rohrwacher, Monica Bellucci, Alexandra Lungu, Sam Louwyck, Sabine Timoteo, Agnese Graziani.


Running Time:             111 minutes
Rating:                       Unrated
Language:                   Italian, French, German (w/English subtitles)
Press Materials: 

Read full story · Posted in News, Yay Bees

Breeding, buying and Varroa: a few thoughts

By HoneyLover Susan Rudnicki

I have had a lot of cognitive dissonance lately from the talk among beeks about breeding, treating, buying queens, etc. Maybe you’ve run into some of the same. If so, here’s a small bit of information that cements my certainty that when we select for certain traits we inadvertently de-select for things that serve the organism and discard important traits we definitely don’t want to lose.    

Our feral bees have strong characteristics of hygiene, pest and disease resistance. They tend to propagate a small worker bee (4.7 to 4.9 mm brood cell diameter) which allows the young bee to beat the emergence of parasitic varroa by emerging before the mite completes its development by at least one day. This natural characteristic of Africanized honey bees is being sought by bee breeders of European honey bees through genetic selection in laboratories with artificial insemination of queens and with strict control of drone mating areas. I have found that the behavior of our bees in pre-selecting young brood—before they emerge—by uncapping at the purple-eye development stage—is clearly apparent in my hive inspections.   


I was asking Michael Bush (author of the “Practical Beekeeper—Beekeeping Naturally”) some questions recently about these processes and the attempts to circumvent natural selection by purchasing queens from breeders for the trait of varroa resistance or VSH (varroa sensitive hygiene). He sent a very interesting answer, including a quote from eminent beek, Kirk Webster.

One thing to know—Michael kept a large, 4 frame, glassed observation hive for several years in his living room with a tube to allow the bees to come and go. This device was very instructive for understanding what bees actually do, minute to minute over a long period of time.

To Michael from Susan:
I have a question about the uncapping of brood at the purple eye stage. [During pupae development,coloration begins with the eyes: first pink, then purple, then black.]   I have always taught (and believed) that this signals a problem with the larvae and the bees plan to drag that pupa out and discard it.     Is that correct? 

Michael’s answer:
It is a sign of hygienic behavior if they uncap the brood.  Dee [Lusby] says they remove the mite and leave the larva.  I was not trying to answer that question when I was observing uncapping in my observation hive, so I never noticed.  Sometimes they removed them.  But recapping them would not be inconsistent with my observation though I never tried to track that.

I think VSH is going to turn out to be a very bad idea to breed for. There are already reports (lots of them) from people who say their VSH bees cleaned up the entire brood nest and threw the brood out of the hive.  I think they are breeding OCD bees.

I think any breeding for one trait has always failed spectacularly in any species we humans have attempted it.  We should look at the big picture.



“We’re making the same mistake with our honey-bees.  We’re trying to ensure the failure of modern bee-keeping by focusing too much on single traits; by ignoring the elements of Wildness; and by constantly treating the bees.  The biggest mistake of all is to continue viewing mites and other “pests” as enemies that must be destroyed, instead of allies and teachers that are trying to show us a path to a better future.  The more virulent a parasite is, the more powerful a tool it can be for improving stocks and practice in the future.  All the boring and soul-destroying work of counting mites on sticky boards, killing brood with liquid nitrogen, watching bees groom each other, and measuring brood hormone levels—all done in thousands of replications—will someday be seen as a colossal waste of time when we finally learn to let the Varroa mites do these things for us.  My own methods of propagating, selecting and breeding bees, worked out through many years of trial and error, are really just an attempt to establish and utilize Horizontal breeding with honeybees—to create a productive system that preserves
and enhances the elements of Wildness.  My results are not perfect, but they have enabled me to continue making a living from bees without much stress, and have a positive outlook for the future.  I have no doubt that many other beekeepers could easily achieve these same results, and then surpass them.”

–Kirk Webster, many decades beekeeper in Vermont, treatment free, survivor stock “What’s Missing From The Current Discussion And Work Related To Bees That’s Preventing Us From Making
Good Progress?”

Read full story · Posted in Newsletter Articles