Environment & Science

LA homeowners may soon have the right to own bees

A hive box like this may contain as many as 20,000 to 30,000 bees.
A hive box like this may contain as many as 20,000 to 30,000 bees.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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Bee populations have taken a big hit in the past decade, but their numbers could soon be increasing in Los Angeles. The council voted on Wednesday to ask the City Attorney's office to draft an ordinance granting all homeowners the right to own hives.

Right now, backyard beekeeping isn’t legal in most parts of Los Angeles, though that hasn’t kept some from doing it anyway. 

Granting beekeeping rights to all in the city has some people worried about safety. The Studio City Neighborhood Council opposed the ordinance, because it did not include amendments designed to promote safety. They wanted aspiring beekeepers to be required to take courses and have insurance in case of injurious stings. They also wanted a registry of expert beekeepers to be created and maintained in case of swarms that necessitate removal. 

Rita Villa, a board member for the neighborhood council, said the requested amendments were not drastic and would have not only protected the public against physical damage but also against financial difficulties caused by stings.

“They didn’t seem onerous, and we were disappointed that they were not incorporated into the language,” said Rita Villa, a board member of the Studio City Neighborhood Council. 

Proponents for beekeeping have argued that city bees would be much-needed pollinators and can be kept safely.

After the City Attorney drafts the ordinance, it will come back to council for final approval.