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“Please join us this Sunday July 3rd to learn why our project to get urban beekeeping approved in Los Angeles is so critical! Meet Chelsea and Rob McFarland and others from Backwards Beekeepers at the MVCC Green Booth at the Mar Vista Farmers Market from 9AM to 2:00 PM. Get the info on our July 16th screening of Vanishing of the Bees!

Over the last three years, more than one in three honeybee colonies collapsed nationwide, a phenomenon now called Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. According to the USDA, about one-third of our food is thanks to the work of bees, making CCD a huge food security issue. And while there is no one smoking gun causing CCD, scientists now widely agree that it is a result of a combination of factors, made manifest by industrial beekeeping which involves artificial insemination of queen bees, trucking thousands of hives great distances to pollinate crops, exposing bees to countless pesticides, and interfering with the species natural defenses by treating them with miticides and antibiotics and feeding them high fructose corn syrup. This deadly cocktail has made bees incredibly vulnerable and on the brink of collapse. That is, only if we fail to act, if we fail to recognize this disaster in the making and don’t take strong action to counter the slow march to extinction.

Mar Vista is actively working toward becoming a more sustainable place to live. Los Angeles currently outlaws beekeeping, and the city’s policy is to exterminate all feral bees. With worldwide bee populations threatened with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and urban beekeeping more popular than ever, this policy needs to change. Feral bees, being subject to natural selection but not to the rough treatment and chemicals of commercial beekeeping, are far more robust than their commercial cousins. As commercial colonies collapse at an alarming rate, it is crucial that this population be protected.

Luckily the Mar Vista Community Council is conducting a feasibility study for a Urban Beekeeping Pilot Project.”

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Will You Help Legalize Urban Beekeeping in Mar Vista?

“As the national interest in urban beekeeping grows, cities like Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Seattle have joined the movement and legalized the practice. These cities recognize just how important bees are to the future of our way of life.

Yet, as bees are quickly vanishing due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), some cities like Los Angeles have yet to legalize urban beekeeping. In the Mar Vista community of L.A., a group of activists is ready to change that. Chelsea and Rob McFarland recently started a petition on Change.org asking the Mar Vista Community Council to support beekeeping in the region and work to repeal Los Angeles Municipal Code 50.03, which makes beekeeping illegal.

Working in collaboration with the Mar Vista Community Council Green Committee and Backwards Beekeepers, the McFarlands started honeylove.org to raise awareness and gain support for the legalization of urban beekeeping in Mar Vista and Los Angeles as a whole. After speaking in front of the Mar Vista Community Council, Chelsea and Rob gained unanimous approval of a feasibility study on legalizing beekeeping.

Their work is certainly important — bees are responsible for pollinating about one-third of America’s food supply. Without bees, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy staples of our diets like apples, nuts, soybeans, broccoli, and cucumbers, as well as some of the tastiest flowering crops out there, such as peaches, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, citrus fruits, and melons. Even our cattle, which feed primarily on alfalfa, rely on bees to pollinate their food. Even President Obama supports urban beekeeping — he keeps two beehives on the White House lawn.

While the Mar Vista Community Council approved the feasibility study, they’ve yet to fully legalize beekeeping in the community. That’s where the McFarlands’ petition comes in. You can help the couple push for legal beekeeping in Mar Vista. Add your signature to the petition, and enable the citizens of Mar Vista to play their part in saving our food system through urban beekeeping.”

Change.org – by Meredith Slater · June 28, 2011 

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Help Legalize Beekeeping in Mar Vista! Please sign our petition on Change.org!

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gardendog:

“Mar Vista tripleheader”

Today, Roberta of Backwards Beekeepers and I cut-out three hives from my neighbor’s garage. John contacted BB after what sounds like a few bungled removals. What started as one hive in his wall splintered into three robust hives, taking up residence in various parts of the garage. 

John’s daughter Catherine, a biology student at UCSB, helped us throughout the whole ordeal. I suspect we have a newbie beek in the making. She was really impressive.

The first hive we tackled was in a window frame and was fully exposed after removing a sheet of plywood that was installed after the previous removal.

We were able to easily cut out the comb and tie it into frames. Look at all that brood!

Next up was a hive that set up in a wine box left behind to trap stragglers from the previous removal. The thought was that it was better to have them living in the box than in the wall.

Unfortunately, they quickly got over-crowded and sent out at least two more swarms, which set up shop in the window and wall. Makes me wonder if this is where the swarm that showed up in my yard originated. If so, I have John to thank for my good fortune. The good news was that the box made for a really simple cut-out.

 

We tied all the comb into 5 frames and dropped them into a nuc box I just built. We obviously got the queen because the rest of the crew was eager to get inside. 

And finally, after a ton of sawing and brute demo work, we were able to cut-out the swarm in the wall. They really spread out throughout the wall, so it took a ton of coaxing to get them all. And by coaxing, I mean busting the hell out of the wall and brushing and vacuuming like a mad man. And though I’m no fan of the bee vac, I’ve found it to be essential in some of the hairier cut-outs. Going to try to build one this weekend, stay tuned for how that turns out. 

Special thanks to John and Catherine for helping rescue many thousands of honeybees, and to Roberta for the mentoring. 

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Victory! Santa Monica Legalizes Beekeeping

 

Following in the footsteps of cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Seattle — and after receiving nearly 200 signatures each from Change.org members — the Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously to legalize beekeeping. The very night the legislation passed I received an email from Councilmember Kevin McKeown asking me to please call off the Change.org dogs, so you can bet we all had a hand in pushing this law forward!

The new ordinance allows up to two hives on residential property as long as keepers register with Animal Control and meet modest hive placement, screening, and management requirements. Hives must be kept five feet from a property line, be provided a water source, and have a six-foot screen, fence, or some kind of vegetation to make sure the bees fly up before they fly out. Otherwise, the hive can be kept eight feet up without a screen.

In addition, the city now has a policy of exterminating swarms only as a last resort. Previously, the city had an automatic extermination policy regarding feral bees. Under the new legislation, these renegade bees will be captured and relocated to an apiary in either Ventura or the San Fernando Valley. Only if this is impossible will swarms be exterminated.

The new ordinance spells out just how important bees are to society, noting that they provide pollination services vital to up to 30 percent of our food. They also recognize that bee populations have been in trouble for the last 50 years, and that their populations have declined by 50 percent. Because of Colony Collapse Disorder, some beekeepers have noticed their hives dwindling by 30 to 90 percent since 2006. Legalizing beekeeping in Santa Monica will not only boost local food security, it will help conserve beleaguered honeybees.

While Santa Monica joined a growing number of locales that let residents keep bees legally, several cities still ban the practice. Los Angeles is one of them. As the victory in Santa Monica showed, our pressure can make a difference on local lawmakers. Sign our petition asking the Los Angeles City Council to legalize beekeeping in all parts of the city.

Article:  Kristen Ridley | Photo: David Goehring

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gardendog:

FEATURED BEEKEEPER: 
Ed (Redondo Beach, CA)

Ed, a member of Backwards Beekeepers, is a man on a mission. His first encounter with bees came when a hive set up shop in his property. Not knowing his options, Ed had an exterminator out to get rid of the bees – a decision that haunts him to this day. As a gardener and wildlife lover, Ed set out to find a better option, a way to redeem himself. 

After some googling, Ed found the Backwards Beekeepers and the rest is history. He’s got bee fever as bad as anyone. 

In addition to going out and rescuing bees himself, Ed made friends with an exterminator who he convinced to do live captures. She now drops off at least three swarms a week. Ed basically runs a bee orphanage – connecting people who need bees with bees in need. 

Today we scooped up three swarms from him – two of which went to a new home in Laguna Beach 

The third of Ed’s rescues went to newbie beek Mark in Woodland Hills. 

Click here to read the full post by gardendog

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Backwards Beekeepers in an upcoming documentary

“Dan Susman is making a documentary called Growing Cities about urban farming across America. He and his partner Andrew Monbouquette shot this segment about a hive rescue with LA Backwards Beekeeper Warren, who does a great job of explaining our mission.”

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“Finding a Home” Night at the Mar Vista Community Council
“Rob and Chelsea McFarland spoke for another creature in vital need of a home: bees. Said that a world without bees is a world without food. The best way to protect bees is to give them homes wherever possible. The Council approved a pilot study for their bee program.”
Article by: Andy Shrader / Photo Credit: Roy Persinko

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Kirkobeeo extracting honey from one of his hives in Silverlake, CA.
SCPR.org Article

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Southern California Coastal Pollinator Planting Guide (pdf)

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