More and more cities across the nation legalized backyard beekeeping in a desperate effort to redress the dwindling bee populations. The latest city to make the move is Los Angeles, whose city council approved a draft proposal on Wednesday.
Nevertheless, LA residents have been keeping beehives within city’s limits for quite some years, but the practice was illegal. City council hopes that the new ordinance may encourage even more residents take up the hobby in the comfort of their own backyards.
L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar told reporters Wednesday that the draft is the result of a year long effort of city council members and bee experts. Mr. Huizar explained that the popular activity would be encouraged, but this doesn’t mean that local authorities won’t step in when hives are poorly maintained.
In the past months, several researchers and beekeepers cautioned that the dwindling bee populations and the situation in California may severely impact the nation’s food stock. In just one year, beekeepers lost nearly half of honeybee colonies due to a mysterious phenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD).
Scientists don’t know what causes colony collapse disorder but they have several theories. Some say that it is because climate change which pushes colonies further north, while others say that it is because of some pesticides or mite parasites.
The White House took urgent measures to prevent a disaster. It gave an interagency task force the green light to repurpose 7 million acres of federal land into bee habitats by 2020.
Researchers say that the partial demise of the pollinators may mean more than $15 billion losses to agribusinesses every year. Federal officials deemed honeybees “critical” to America’s economy.
But the panic about CCD has also a bright side. Thousands of people are now interested in growing bees as a hobby. Beekeeping supply companies reported that their sales to amateur beekeepers more than doubled since 2010.
“I’ve seen it throughout the US. Everyone wants to save the bees,”
said Rick Molenda,CEO of Western Bee, a Montana-based beekeeping supply firm.
Molenda also noted that the hobbyist beekeepers started to grow larger after 2006, when the first major collapses of colonies were reported. Hopefully, the situation is under control now. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the number of colonies hit a 20-year high last summer.
In Los Angeles, beehives will be allowed only in the backyards of single-family homes. Plus, the backyards need to have a buffer zone a permanent source of water, and walls or hedges to prevent the insects from venturing to other backyards to drink water.
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