VIDEO: City-dwellers swarm to urban beekeeping
VIDEO: City-dwellers swarm to urban beekeeping
THE BEES OF BERLIN: The German capital is witnessing a beekeeping revival, which is good news for the environment.
Bee numbers are decreasing all over the world, including in Germany, where disease, mites and the use of insecticides have halved bee populations since the 1980s.
In Germany the problem is exacerbated by the increase in the age profile of beekeepers, which meant that the art of beekeeping was starting to die out – bad news for the environment, as bees pollinate about 80 per cent of all flowers including vegetable, fruit crops and deciduous trees.
Surprisingly, cities can play a key role in boosting bees’ numbers. With their diverse range of plant life and milder climates, they can actually provide better habitats for bees than rural areas, where monoculture farming is detrimental to their health.
The last few years has seen a huge resurgence of interest in urban beekeeping worldwide, and there are now 570 apiarists in Berlin alone.
Sinead O’Shea meets some of the enthusiastic new converts in the German capital who are helping to revive beekeeping.
TRUE BLOOD DONATES TO HELP RAISE MONEY FOR THE HONEYBEES!! ?
Signed items for ebay auction to benefit HONEYLOVE.org (Los Angeles based nonprofit conservation organization with a mission to protect the honeybees and inspire and educate new urban beekeepers).
Charity auction includes: True Blood reel, Rolling Stone, and ties signed by Stephen Moyer (Bill Compton) and Kristin Bauer Van Straten (Pam Swynford De Beaufort).
“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.”
The motion will next be presented to the Los Angeles City Council.
“The Mar Vista Community Council Board of Directors maintained a quorum Tuesday night and voted to approve the motion to support urban beekeeping in Los Angeles…
Backwards Beekeepers founder Kirk Anderson noted that Mar Vista has a thriving population of feral bees, and allowing beekeepers to step up and legally manage bees would only help the community.
Green Committee Co-Chair Sherri Akers also spoke about HoneyLove founders Rob and Chelsea McFarland, who first brought the idea of a beekeeping pilot project to the council. She spoke of how the couple had personally worked to remove hives from public spaces and protect the community from feral bees.
Board member Kate Anderson said she respected the concerns about being stung but added that the six-month study by the council had seriously considered the issues at hand and had done its work.
Board Member Geoffrey Forgione also pointed out that the motion that will now be presented to the City Council is not advocating that the pilot program take place specifically in Mar Vista. Rather, the MVCC is advocating for the implementation of the program in Los Angeles.
Following the approval of the motion, several supporters dressed in black and yellow applauded the move as they waved yellow pom poms on sticks above their heads.
Chelsea McFarland told Patch she was grateful for the support of the MVCC Green Committee and the Backwards Beekeepers, saying, “This was a great night for Los Angeles beekeepers.”
Przekop, who headed up the outreach committee for the project told Patch she was happy that the motion passed but that “it’s a very small step in a long process. I hope [the Los Angeles City Council] and other neighborhood councils support this, because this isn’t going to happen just by Mar Vista supporting it.”
Przekop added she was thrilled to be part of this grassroots movement and that the template created in Mar Vista for the beekeeping project is something that other communities can use in seeking support for the project.
The MVCC motion reads:
The committee reviewed over 150 articles on beekeeping, best practices, planning articles on Urban Agriculture, State, County and city beekeeping regulations to help in the evaluation of the recommendations and conclusions of the Beekeeping Feasibility Study. The committee also spoke to program directors in numerous cities where programs are in place.
The Feasibility Study concludes that there is a strong community interest in supporting beekeeping efforts and that doing so would result in positive changes that permit the healthy growth of honey bee colonies and increase the production and quality of fruits, vegetables and flowers in Mar Vista’s organic home gardens while providing a community service as a resource for the removal of feral (wild) hives. Research indicates that such a program would be cost neutral to the city of LA.
The MVCC Board therefore recommends the implementation of a Beekeeping Pilot Program in to test safety and develop best practices for future expansion. We urge the City of LA to adopt a policy that includes conditions relating to maintenance, location, registration and notification to assure for the safety of all residents, which may result in the continued preservation of quality of life and preservation of single-family residential districts.”
Honeybees for the WIN! MVCC voted YES for urban beekeeping. Next up Los Angeles City Council, but for now, we celebrate Thank you for the massive support, none of this would be happening without YOU!!
Mar Vista Recreation Center Auditorium: 11430 Woodbine Street, Mar Vista, CA 90066
Click here to download the agenda (PDF) – We are item 2A on the agenda
JOIN US this SATURDAY as we SWARM LMU!!
FREE film screening and photobooth shenanigans ?
REMEMBER TO WEAR SOME YELLOW AND BLACK!!
Victim of disease and pests, the threatened bee finds a new caretaker in Vancouver’s young and eco-savvy.
“It’s easier than owning a dog,” says Alaina Thebault, East Van gardener and coordinator for the Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA). “But more work than a cat.”
Thebault’s not talking about pet iguanas or even backyard chickens. The next darling of urban agriculture junkies seems to be, well, bees.
“You grow up your whole life being afraid of insects that sting you. I don’t recall ever being stung as a child, but it was always something I was afraid of,” she says. But beginning this year, Thebault’s relationship with the world’s leading pollinators took on a whole new dimension.
“I caught my first swarm back in May,” she explains. “I was at my parent’s house in Chilliwack and my dad found this swarm in the yard.” Faced with a buzzing mass of insects orbiting a queen, Thebault had her first up-close-and-personal encounter with a wild bee colony.
“I was like, ‘Oh crap.’ I had no idea what to do.”
Coached by an experienced colleague over the phone, Thebault took charge of the rogue swarm. “She told me to grab a box and put a little bit of sugar in it. She said, ‘Just be calm.’ I didn’t have anything — no veil, no gloves — I just grabbed this branch, and it was surrounded in this big football of bees.”
While her parents observed in a mild state of shock, Thebault says in that moment she knew she wanted to look after a hive of her own.
“I was like, ‘I’m hooked.’ You know, these things are really special.”
Not many can claim to have maneuvered thousands of live bees with their bare hands. In fact, most people — including Thebault’s own family — would gladly call it crazy. But a little bit of learning has pushed Thebault and dozens more young people like her to think about bees in a new light.
“You might not know this, but bees are incredibly docile when they swarm,” she explains. “They eat as much honey as they can before they leave the hive. They basically gorge themselves, and so they’re incredibly lethargic and harmless.”
For the record, Thebault was not stung once during this entire episode. “Once they swarm, they don’t have any space to protect so they’re not as defensive either,” she adds. “So they’re very easy to work with.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, says Thebault. The more she researched the importance of bees in B.C.’s ecosystems and the threat of colony collapse, the more she wanted to bring the tiny creatures into her own backyard…
Beekeeping: not just for ‘geezers’
In stark contrast to big-time commercial apiaries, urban beekeepers often maintain low-impact organic hives near community gardens. With ecology rather than profit in mind, young people in the city have taken beekeeping into their own hands…
“The commercial industry is still dominated by older farmers but I’ve seen a lot of interest in urban hives,” she adds. Taught at the Means of Production garden in Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood, McKenna’s classes — attended predominantly by 20-something women — show students how to avoid pesticides and antibiotics and employ more sustainable practices.
Garr says he, too, has noticed youth interest in beekeeping grow. “It was geezers mostly,” he jokes about beekeepers’ association meetings in the past. He says attendance at beekeeping functions has jumped to nearly 100 from around 10 in the last couple years. “People are into it now, which was not the case five or eight years ago”…
“Los Angeles’ first ever Green Festival drew thousands of visitors this weekend, and several of the presenters offering up their expertise and tips in sessions came from Mar Vista.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa officially opened the weekend festival with a green ribbon-cutting ceremony, and was introduced by festival co-founders, Kevin Danaher of Global Exchange and Alisa Gravitz of Green America.
Speaking to attendees, Villaraigosa welcomed everyone and touted the city’s successful implementation of several clean air and zero waste projects. He also reiterated his commitment to making Los Angeles the greenest city in the country…
Rob and Chelsea McFarland of the Mar Vista-based non-profit conservation organization HoneyLove.org, also spoke at the Sustainable Home and Garden Pavilion on “Urban Beekeeping.”
In their presentation they discussed the main reasons for the decline of the honey bee; why the urban environment is the last refuge of the honey bee; solutions on how people can do their part to help the honeybees; and they gave an update on their efforts to legalize beekeeping in Los Angeles through their initiative in Mar Vista. The couple have been working for six months on a feasibility study to allow beekeeping in R-1 Residential zones in Los Angeles with a possible pilot project in Mar Vista…”
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