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 http://savethebeesbook.com/ 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.”
By Rob and Chelsea McFarland, Founders of HoneyLove.org
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: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/save-the-bees-with-natural-backyard-hives-rob-mcfarland/1121380144?ean=9781624141416
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!!!
Email: info [at] honeylove.org
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 across every part of the city spearheaded by local non-profit HoneyLove.org, 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.”
“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. email@example.com
“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. firstname.lastname@example.org
Their advocacy for the honeybee is echoed by HoneyLove co-founder and author of the new book “Save the Bees,” 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.” email@example.com
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.” firstname.lastname@example.org
“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. email@example.com
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.
“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. firstname.lastname@example.org
“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, 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. email@example.com
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 http://honeylove.org
 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 – https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3mjhYhHhzMrNGRiYjkzNjItMGExNi00Y2I1LWIyMWUtY2VhYTIwNzJkMTQ5/edit
Full PRESS RELEASE linked below:
BEEKEEPERS! THIS IS IT!
LA CITY COUNCIL ***FINAL*** BEE VOTE WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14!!
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!!
Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance:
PLUM Committee Moves Ordinance Forward To City Attorney
The Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) of the City Council approved the proposed Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance provisions at their regular meeting on August 25, 2015, and transmitted the Draft Ordinance to the City Attorney’s Office with no amendments. The City Attorney’s Office will now look over the Ordinance as to form and legality, and then transmit it back to the PLUM Committee.
Audio of the PLUM meeting on August 24, 2015 is available online (at 2 hours 20 minutes):
City Attorney’s Office transmits the final ordinance to PLUM, who will then forward it to the full City Council. While the timeline for these steps is uncertain, the PLUM Committee stated their eagerness to see the Backyard Beekeeping Ordinance move through the process as quickly as possible, which was noted by the City Attorney.
By HoneyLover Susan Rudnicki
One of the most delightful and informative ways beeks can advance their understanding of bees and beekeeping is by attending conferences. The American Beekeeping Federation conference was held in Anaheim this year in January and I went to several presentations. This was a completely academic conference, combined with a large trade show—no live bees to work with. This group also reflects a strong conventional management and commercial pollinator representation. There are always things to be learned though, and I found the time well spent.
However, a number of smaller and more appropriate conferences for us treatment free folk also occur every year. The 8th Annual Organic Beekeeping conference at Oracle AZ, put on by Dee Lusby allows participants to visit the 9 bee yards kept by Dee in the remote Sonora desert near the Mexican border. These bees are never moved (no migratory pollination) are at least 4 deeps tall, are not re-queened or supported with any feeds, and are visited (on average) just 5 times a year. Dee’s honey is very dry and dark, reflecting the dry climate and mixed desert flora the bees have for forage. These flowers include many desert shrubs, cactus, wildflowers, and introduced weed species too numerous to mention. The Spring rains this year have been abundant and well spaced, so we saw lots of wildflower and cactus blooms. The desert smelled wonderful—fresh, sage-y scented with alternating bright blue skies and looming smokey thunderclouds.
Rob McFarland (Co-Founder of HoneyLove) and I drove to Oracle, which is in a very remote area. The conference is sited at the YMCA, with cabins and bunk beds for sleeping and 3 full cafeteria meals a day. Some of the best time is spent at meals in talking with other bee keepers from all over the US and even other parts of the world.
The conference lasts 3 days, with speakers on a range of subjects—apitherapy (using bee stings for health reasons), introduction of a new national on-line register for swarm calls to beekeepers, the beekeeping management calendar year from a extreme climate perspective, and new information on genetics and breeding of queens. Michael Bush and Sam Comfort, our great friends in treatment free beekeeping not only spoke individually, but on the last night gave us a melodious, heartfelt performance for almost a hour. Michael plays guitar and sings, Sam plays ukelele and banjo and a MEAN harmonica!! It was stupendous and had people’s roaring approval.
Our final day was devoted to driving on dirt roads to Dee’s remote beeyards—she has 700 hives. The day was a bit windy and cold, with threatening rain, but we went anyway, and the desert was glorious with color. The desert bees were very ferocious in defending their colonies, reflecting the weather and forage conditions they must deal with. We were fully suited and gloved to help restore some hives that were tipping wildly from the undermining of the bottom board by tunneling rodents. The hives had to be totally unstacked, the bottom board leveled and supported by fresh soil and the hives re-stacked—each at least 4 deeps.
I urge all that wish to really know beekeeping and infuse the relationship with new knowledge to attend these bee conferences.
by Dr. Noah Wilson-Rich
LA is the only major city in the United States with illegal beekeeping.
City planners must remain forward-thinking. California is a huge agricultural state. To make any pollinators illegal is to limit agriculture. That decreases job availability, limits food production, and prevents access to education. These are social justice issues, and policy makers must take action to allow access to these resource for all residents. In 100 years, is it possible that we could have modern, urban farms on rooftops or underutilized properties? It is, if policy allows it so. Our population is growing, but our available land is not. We must be smart about how we plan for the future of urban living. We must legalize pollination, and honey bees are the best generalist pollinator available to humans… Furthermore, corporate real estate companies are rolling out regional and national beekeeping programs to increase their sustainability image. Beehives can even help make skyscrapers more sustainable and earn an additional LEED certification point by the Council for Green Buildings.
The 2014 Farm Bill provides reimbursement for Beekeepers who experience greater than 17.5% loss of beehives. The national average remains between 30-40% loss of beehives each year, and this is in the post-CCD world (see my Sept. 2014 piece in the New York Times). Bees are dying from myriad diseases for which there is no cure, and data published in the most recent Science magazine and highlighted in BBC show that there are host jumps to other bee species, specifically to bumble bees as Mark Brown and colleagues showed. Bees do best in urban environments, and so we must allow bees to live in habitats where they are thriving. This is of vital importance for our future in urban living, where we will have more and more people to feed from less and less land.
The Best Bees Company is now offering our beekeeping services in and around Los Angeles. Our proceeds fund our research to improve bee health. One of our current research studies is investigating urban beekeeping, comparing honey production and hive health in cities compared to the countryside. We are currently seeking special permissions to set up observational research hives in Los Angeles to provide local data, but our multiple emails to LA policy makers have remain unanswered. For more information about getting beehives, scheduling a complementary site consultation, bee research, speaking events, or hiring local beekeepers, please contact us at INFO@BESTBEES.COM or (617) 407-8979.
We are in a strong drought of three years duration, so if you live near the foothills and your bees must rely on lots of natives for pollen and nectar, they may be finding the pickings slim. You may need to feed them. Only inspection and conferring with other knowledgeable beeks will help you determine this. Please utilize the great opportunity HoneyLove offers as a networking resource by attending our educational meetings and events and using the Forum to advance your confidence by posing questions. Beekeeping is a extended learning curve craft with lots of nuances.
Stay up on your inspection schedule (every 2 – 3 weeks) and keeping records of when you do them, what you see, and what you think your observations portend for the colony. Drone brood frames discovered in the brood nest can be moved up to the top box and after the drones hatch, this area is often filled with honey.
Please take the time to be observant of all the flowering trees, shrubs, and annual flowers that your bees use for their food. Eucalyptus, Mellaleucas, Grevilleas, Grewia and many others are blooming now—we should strive to know these plants and their bloom cycles to truly know our bees.
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Your contribution directly supports the educational outreach, community action and advocacy efforts to protect the health and well-being of honey bees. HoneyLove is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible.