By Adrian Florido via scpr.org
The L.A. City Council has voted to allow Angelenos to plant fruits and vegetables in their parkways – that strip of city-owned land between the sidewalk and the street – without a permit. Fruit trees, however, will still require a permit.
Until now, planting anything other than grass or certain shrubs on that strip required a $400 permit, and homeowners were often fined for not complying. But the ordinance approved Wednesday says people can replace shrubs or grass with edible plants like fruits and vegetables, as long as they follow the city’s guidelines for landscaping parkways…
The rule change is the culmination of years of advocacy by community groups. They have been pushing the city to make it easier for residents — especially in poorer, crowded neighborhoods — to grow their own food. The city council began working on Wednesday’s rule change nearly two years ago.Mayor Eric Garcetti now has 10 days to approve the ordinance. Assuming he does, it will take effect roughly 30 days later.
[click here to view the full article via scpr.org]
Public Hearing Notice: Backyard Beekeeping Draft Ordinance
All interested persons are invited to attend a public hearing for a proposed City of Los Angeles Zoning Code amendment to allow backyard beekeeping in single-family residential zones. At the hearing, you may listen, speak, or submit written information related to the proposed ordinance. This is the first in a series of public hearings regarding this proposed ordinance as it moves on to the City Planning Commission, Planning and Land Use Management committee of the City Council, and City Council.
PLACE: Los Angeles City Hall, Room 1010, 10th Floor – 200 N. Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
TIME: Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Please see the link below to the public hearing notice, Q&A and draft ordinance for more information.
For more information, please contact staff:
via HoneyLover Susan Rudnicki
Beeks—As you are probably reading everywhere, California is in the middle of a extended drought and this significantly affects the available food—pollen and nectar—for our bees. People can get a false sense of security about this problem since all around are extensive irrigated landscapes— golf courses, industrial parks, shopping malls with fountains and lush landscaping, apartment and condo blocks, and private homes.
However, all this is carried out by the importation of precious water from underground aquifers and water resources channeled from the middle and northern part of the state. Irrigation with re-claimed sewer water—-designated by the required violet colored pipes and valve box covers—is still a anomaly, unfortunately. Our streets are still running with rivers of wasted water, too.
For a simple tabulation of the history of the rainfall pattern, go here: http://www.laalmanac.com/weather/we13.htm
You will see, since 2000, we have been much under normal 8 years and only in excess 5 years—and not that much in excess, when the average for 135 years is only 15 inches. The population of California is projected to be 60 million by 2050, from the 34 million counted in 2007. The water is not going to be there to sustain this many people in the lifestyle currently practiced.
Many beeks are noticing their bees have small stores of honey, or sometimes, nothing. I am seeing cutouts with lots of brood, but almost NO honey/nectar stores. As beekeepers, this is important for us to monitor when doing inspections of our hives and when trying to support small nucs and cutouts after the trauma of the operations when we move them. We may need to feed our bees to help them manage the loss of available food supply—called a “dearth” –if we wish for them to be around for us come Spring. The best food for bees is their natural food—honey. This can be provided by frames of honey taken from strong hives. “junk comb” from cutouts, and honey purchased for the specific feeding purpose. A bee has a natural acidic pH in her gut that is supported by many strains of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes adapted to that pH environment. When we feed sugar or high fructose corn syrup, the more alkaline nature of these sugars alters the gut pH. Some scientists believe this is not beneficial to the gut microbes that serve the bee’s immune system. However, if the situation is one of the choice between starvation or feeding sugar, we may need to feed the sugar syrup to get by until there is a natural nectar flow.
Big thank you to Susan for contributing to our blog as well as moderating the HoneyLove Forum!
Backyard beekeepers work to save the local honeybee population from collapse
Story by Rebecca Kuzins via argonautnews.com
Most people who discover a beehive in their backyard would be glad to see it gone.
Paul Hekimian is not like most people.
After discovering a hive in an avocado tree behind his Santa Monica home in 2012, Hekimian — with help from Del Rey beekeeper Rob McFarland — moved the bees into brooding boxes, which provide ideal conditions for a hive. Since then, he has been raising honeybees, extracting and bottling honey, and even adopting more bees by rescuing swarms that have gathered at places such as Tongva Park and the Santa Monica Pier.
Hekimian is part of a new breed of urban beekeepers who’ve developed organic, pesticide- and chemical-free techniques to raise smaller hives with more disease-resistant honeybees. But the way Hekimian tells it, he just sets up his brooding boxes and then leaves the bees alone so they can produce honeycombs — and more bees.
“At the end of the day, the bees do all the work,” said Hekimian, a father of two young boys who also has his hands full running both a wholesale bakery and a technology consulting business. “You’ve heard the phrase ‘busy as a bee.’ These bees are very busy.”
Hekimian’s work and that of other backyard beekeepers is more than just a hobby. It’s also an environmentally minded response to the colony collapse disorder that has plagued honeybees for almost a decade and threatens the very future of agricultural and natural ecosystems.
Save the bees, save ourselves
In 2006, beekeepers began noticing that many worker bees had abandoned their hives, resulting in a loss of one-third of the nation’s honeybees. Since then, bees have continued to disappear, with scientists and researchers citing several possible reasons for the loss. Some argue that a fungus or virus is responsible, or that the bees have died from poor nutrition or parasites. More recently, numerous articles in scientific journals maintain a specific group of pesticides is the cause of the problem.
The sudden and rapid decline of the bee population has gotten the attention of President Barack Obama, who had two hives installed at the White House garden this summer — making him the nation’s most high-profile urban beekeeper.
In June, Obama created a Pollinator Task Force to establish a federal strategy aimed at promoting the health of honeybees and other pollinators.
“Honeybee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States,” reads a statement announcing the task force. “Severe yearly declines create concern that bee colony losses could reach a point from which the commercial pollination industry would not be able to adequately recover.”
Or, as Hekimian says it: “If the bees go, they’re taking us with them. One in three pieces of food is touched by bees.”
Already struggling with drought, California’s almond industry also relies on bees for pollination. Bees also play a significant role in pollinating strawberries, watermelon, broccoli, squash and myriad other agricultural and other plants.
Some cities have responded to colony collapse disorder by legalizing beekeeping on private property, and the Santa Monica City Council adopted such an ordinance in 2011.
“The city council recognized bees are a very important link in the food chain,” said Dean Kubani, director of the city’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment. “Bees play so many important roles in the production of fruit and vegetables and most of what we eat. … I think in the past, there was a fear that bees in urban and suburban areas would harm people. That has shown not to be the case.”
The fight to legalize bees in L.A.
The Los Angeles City Council has been studying how the city could adopt its own backyard beekeeping ordinance since February. Some Los Angeles residents, like Rob and Chelsea McFarland, are already keeping bees. Founders of the nonprofit organization Honey Love, the couple has conducted an extensive neighborhood outreach and lobbying campaign in favor of a bee-positive city ordinance.
Chelsea McFarland said she and her husband made the decision to become beekeepers after a swarm showed up in the backyard of their Del Rey home.
“We have an organic garden and we knew about [colony collapse disorder]. We knew the bees were in trouble,” she said.
When the McFarlands contacted the city for advice about handling the swarm, they were told “the only thing to do was exterminate [them],” she recalled. “That’s still the case. Part of the [city’s] policy should be not only to legalize [beekeeping] … but to try and rescue rather than exterminate.”
Sylvia Henry is also a Los Angeles beekeeper and Honey Love member. She started keeping honeybees in March after Hekimian brought a swarm to her Mar Vista home, where her hive shares space in the backyard with eight chickens. “I’m an old farm girl,” Henry said. “I grew up on a farm in Chino.”
Henry said she is “thrilled” with her hive, which has already produced 30 pounds of honey. She’s “read all of the books in the library on bees” and is fascinated by the “whole entire cycle” of beekeeping and the “social set-up” of honeybees.
Not far from Henry’s backyard, another group of bees live on the roof of Louie’s of Mar Vista, a popular neighborhood restaurant and bar on Grand Avenue south of Venice Boulevard.
John Atkinson and his wife Laura opened the restaurant last year at the site where his grandfather, Bill Atkinson, and Bill’s buddy Louie operated a butcher shop from 1954 to 1969.
While renovating the property, John Atkinson noticed a swarm of bees had gathered inside a large sign above the building.
“Rather than poison them, we got them out of the sign and cut off access for them to get back into the sign,” he recalled.
The bees were placed in hive boxes on the restaurant’s roof, and Atkinson hired a beekeeper to take care of them. Over the past year, the population of what the restaurant’s website calls “Mar Vista’s bees” has increased threefold.
Louie’s of Mar Vista uses honey from these hives in some of its dishes and to create its signature Bee Sting cocktail — a combination of applejack brandy, ginger beer, lemon and honey, served with a slice of lime and a mix of sugar and ginger around the rim of the glass.
“It’s not like having a goldfish”
As part of its education and support mission, HoneyLove conducts monthly seminars, including some at its bee sanctuary in Moorpark, to train backyard beekeepers.
“It’s not like having a goldfish,” Chelsea McFarland said. “You definitely want to know what you’re doing.”
Hekimian, on the HoneyLove board of directors, agrees that wanna-be beekeepers need training before they can graduate to get a beehive.
Beekeeping, Hekimian adds, is the art of observation: “You watch the behavior of the bees as they go in and out the front door. Are they going out? Are they bringing in pollen?”
Beekeeping comes fairly naturally to Hekimian. His father, Kevork G. Hekimian, kept bees when Paul was growing up in Houston.
“My dad started out with a couple of hives and then had 60 hives,” he said. “I got him back into beekeeping,” Hekimian said of his father. “It’s come full circle.”
[read the full article via argonautnews.com]
For those of you who aren’t already wise to America’s edgiest new pastime, Cards Against Humanity – its name a play on “crimes against humanity” – is a game most similar to Apples to Apples, but *WARNING* rated R, if not NC-17. While playing the game doesn’t require extreme violence or nudity, cards make reference to both, and players have been known to blush.
At its simplest, Cards Against Humanity is a multi-player, fill-in-the-blanks game using black “question” cards and white “answer” cards (detailed instructions below). But it’s unusual in many respects: It was funded through Kickstarter. It’s downloadable for free on the internet. And it’s not hard to create your own version – which we’ve done.
Click here to download Cards Against Los Angeles
To begin, each player draws 10 white cards. A Card Czar is then randomly chosen (this is a rotating title – don’t worry, you’ll get your turn) and plays a black card from the single black card pile. The Card Czar reads the question to the group, and each player answers by passing one white card (or two or three, depending on the question) face down to the Czar.
The Czar shuffles all answers and reads them aloud. The Chicagoans emphasize, “For full effect, the Card Czar should usually re-read the black card before presenting each answer.” After all, this game isn’t just about winning and losing, it’s also about attitude. And shock value.
When the hoots, hollers and hurling have died down, the Czar picks a favorite. Whoever played the favored answer keeps the black card as one Awesome Point and everyone draws back up to ten white cards. Then a new player ascends to Card Czar and play begins again. The original instructions don’t say how the game ends, but we assume you can determine the length of game however you’d like, and whoever has the most Awesome Points at the end wins. (Woot-woot!)
We are thrilled to announce that HONEYLOVE was chosen as a finalist of the “Communities with Drive” program, sponsored by Zipcar, Inc. and Ford Motor Company. Communities with Drive is designed to acknowledge and reward organizations that are having a profound impact on the communities in which they operate.
As one of 25 finalists from over 400 entries, HoneyLove is eligible to win $50,000 in cash as well as $15,450 in Zipcar credit to support the organization’s needs. Here’s where you come in: winners are voted on by the public at
We would LOVE for you to spread the buzz that HoneyLove is a finalist to increase our chances of receiving the substantial prize in order to continue to best serve the beekeeping community.
If you are a supporter of HoneyLove, we sincerely hope you will increase our chances of winning this impactful prize by voting for us. For additional information please check out: http://bit.ly/1m9cCzx.
Many Thanks—YAY BEES!!
And… bonus points for buzzing about it on twitter: @iheartbees @Zipcar @ Ford #CommunitiesWithDrive
This law didn’t stop all bee-keeping in residential areas. As the City grew by annexing surrounding land, exceptions to the bee ordinance were made for newly added districts that were primarily agricultural. In 1915, the San Fernando Valley was exempted from the bee-keeping ban when it was annexed to LA. The ban itself didn’t seem to be widely enforced in parts of the city where it did apply. A 1917 Los Angeles Times article on the benefits of back-yard bee-keeping, for example, dismissed the law against bees as “an ancient and still-unrepealed city ordinance.” (‘Back-Yard Bee Keeping Cuts Living Cost Here.’ Los Angeles Times, Jan 28, 1917.)
The legality of the ‘ancient’ ordinance was eventually tested at the California Supreme Court. In 1936, Mrs. Edna Ellis was accused of violating the LA city ordinance by keeping five hives of bees at a residential property on the 4000 block of Sequoia St. The Deputy City Attorney prosecuting the case called bees “a nuisance” and “vicious.” “They are stinging people all over the neighborhood,” he claimed. “Children go outside and get stung. They can’t even pick flowers.” In her defense, Mrs. Ellis told the court: “I love bees. To me, they’re pets… Like cats and dogs to some people. My father kept bees before me and I have been keeping them myself for twenty-five years.” (‘Court Hears Bee Defense: Woman Accused of Keeping Apiary in Violation of City Ordinance.’ Los Angeles Times. June 27, 1936.) Ellis was convicted and appealed the decision, arguing that the ban was unconstitutional. The California Supreme Court accepted her statements about “the benefits to the residents in her community resulting from the cross-pollination of the fruit blossoms and flowers in addition to the commercial value of the bees” but still found that there is “a reasonable basis for the exercise of the police power in prohibiting beekeeping within the city limits,” upholding the law and Ellis’ conviction. (In re Ellis, 11 cal.2d 571, 1938.)
As World War II drew to a close, LA planners tried to balance the San Fernando’s Valley’s agricultural heritage with pent-up demand for space for housing and industry. It was on this shifting terrain that arguments about bees started to define what types of residential properties were suitable for keeping hives. In April 1945, 13 residents of Canoga Park sent a petition to the Los Angeles City Council requesting a law “prohibiting stands of bees in the west end of the San Fernando Valley. Bees in this locality are not only a nuisance and danger, but they cause a great deal of damage to crops such as peaches, grapes and others. .. As they ripen, the bees sting the fruit and cause them to rot. It is dangerous to try to gather fruit with so many bees around. At present, people who live in the city, but who own vacant acres, are putting in bees just to annoy those of us who really make our homes out here.” (Council File 19744, April 23, 1945).
Los Angeles City staff and the Council’s Public Health and Welfare Committee considered this request. They concluded that it was unreasonable to outlaw bee keeping in agricultural parts of the valley and that “expert testimony does not support the contention that bees really damage fruit.” (May 5, 1945 letter from Chas Senn, Director of Sanitation to George M. Uhl, MD, Health Officer). In early April, 1946, the City Council, did direct the City Attorney to draft an ordinance to prohibit keeping bees in congested parts of the San Fernando Valley. This move prompted another group of Canoga Park residents to send a competing petition to Council: “we the undersigned residents of said district, ask that the keeping of bees in the west San Fernando Valley should not be outlawed for the following reasons: Said district is sparsely settled and is mostly devoted to agriculture and bees do not constitute a nuisance. The bees render a great service to agriculture, trees and flowers by pollination, which fact is well known and the plaintiffs could not suggest a better substitute. However, there are also wild bees, which could not be outlawed. It is well know that bees do not spoil fruit. First fruit must be pecked by birds before a bee could feed on it. We the undersigned are convinced that the bees are harmless and useful and therefore we ask that no ordinance against keeping bees should be enacted.” (Council File 23159, April 23, 1946.)
The LA City Council soon passed an ordinance, effective June 1, 1946, that split the difference between the anti-bee and pro-bee petitions. The City’s anti-beekeeping law was amended to forbid the keeping of bees on any premises within 300 feet of another dwelling or within 100 feet of an exterior boundary. This would allow bees to be kept at a single family house only if it had a huge lot. Agricultural zones and the Residential Agriculture zone were exempted, allowing bee-keeping to continue in parts of the Valley with rural zoning.
By shifting the law from a blanket prohibition on bee-keeping (with an exception for the San Fernando Valley) to a zoning-based system, planners could allow different animal and agriculture-related uses in different residential zones. In 1950, for example, a new Residential Suburban zone was created to be a hybrid between the R1 and RA zones. Residents of RA or RS zoned homes could raise “poultry, fowl, bees, rabbits, chinchillas, fish, or frogs;” but if you lived in a house zoned R1 (the most common single family zone) you were limited to poultry, rabbits and chinchillas, plus goats, horses and cows if your lot was at least 20,000 square feet. (Ordinance 97359, 1950).
At some point between 1950 and 1980, bee-keeping was eliminated as a legal use in the RA and RS zones. I haven’t yet run across the ordinance that made this change. Today, bee-keeping is only allowed in the City of Los Angeles in agricultural zone and in most manufacturing zones. Hopefully this will change soon, and hives of bees, governed by sensible regulations, will be permitted in backyards throughout the City for the first time in 135 years.
Mark Vallianatos works and teaches at Occidental College and is on the Zoning Advisory Committee for the City’s re:code LA process to revise Los Angeles’ zoning code. Mark can be reached at email@example.com
LEGALIZE URBAN BEEKEEPING IN LOS ANGELES!!
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