Science detectives say they're making progress toward solving the mystery of the disappearing bees. But bee enthusiasts aren't taking Colony Collapse Disorder lying down either. This summer the Madeleine Brand show covered a documentary on concerns about bee colonies disappearing, and the show's Jacob Margolis talked about his beekeeping setup.
Now backyard beekeepers are looking to expand territory in Los Angeles where their hives are welcome. (Right now, LA City code allows bee raising (apiaries) in zones A1, A2, MR1, MR2, M1, M2, M3.) I heard about Chelsea McFarland, who with her husband Rob has founded HoneyLove, a volunteer group on the west side of Los Angeles pushing for expanded rights in the city of Los Angeles areas of Mar Vista and Del Rey to keep bees. I traded some emails with her to learn more. (What follows is condensed and edited some.)
Can you tell me more about your urban beekeeping pilot program? Are you getting any funding support from anywhere?
[The idea is] that interested residents in the community would be given the opportunity to host up to two beehives on their property. Included in the program there will be an application/registration/inspection process and safe regulations in place. Our primary goal is to set up a handful of communities with these pilot programs across LA and then take it to the full city council to allow all of Los Angeles to be involved!
In terms of funding, we are in the process of getting our final tax-exempt stamp of approval on our 501(c)(3) non-profit HoneyLove. In the meantime we are a self-funded volunteer group of friends and family... a true grassroots initiative!
You're doing feasibility studies through the Mar Vista and Del Rey Neighborhood Councils. What are they intended to accomplish?
Essentially the studies are all about educating the council and the community about the concept of urban beekeeping, connecting with other cities who have legalized it (Santa Monica, San Francisco, Seattle, Spokane, Denver, etc.), and engaging and addressing the interests and concerns of the individual communities.
The full results of the feasibility study and our petition will be submitted to the community councils October 11 and then published online at HoneyLove.org.
In Mar Vista, October 11th is the big day that the MVCC will vote to approve or deny our pilot program. We are hoping to get as many people as possible to come out to the council meeting to show their support for that vote!
Which came first, your love of bees, or your love of honey?
Hahaha... well Rob and I have always been animal advocates! We actually first met while working for the Orangutan Foundation International in Asia. The honey definitely started tasting sweeter after we fell in love with our fuzzy little bees.
Chelsea added that "HoneyLove is a resource for public meetings and events going on almost every week ranging from council and committee meetings to film screenings to our fun outreach events." Mar Vista, are you in?