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Beekeepers urge L.A. to consider allowing residential beehives

Beekeepers are urging Los Angeles city leaders to seriously consider allowing backyard beehives.

The City Council took action Wednesday to explore whether beekeeping should be allowed in residential zones, asking city staff to report back on the idea.

Backyard beekeepers want Los Angeles to join New York, Santa Monica and other cities that allow residents to keep hives at home.

Existing Los Angeles city codes do not allow beekeeping in residential zones, according to city planning officials. Beekeeping has nonetheless blossomed among Angelenos worried about the health of honeybees and devoted to urban farming.

In a news conference Wednesday, beekeepers urged the council to pursue the report on the topic, possibly the first step toward enshrining the practice in city code.

At the conference, City Councilman Paul Koretz argued that urban beekeeping was especially needed in the face of colony collapse disorder, which has devastated agricultural hives that pollinate avocados, almonds and other crucial crops.

Councilman Mike Bonin chimed in. “If you care about blueberries,” Bonin said, “you care about this.”

Not everyone was convinced that new rules were needed: Southern California beekeeper Dael Wilcox argued the practice wasn’t actually illegal, just not spelled out in law, and that the city should keep it that way.

Both beekeepers and city officials say complaints about managed hives are rare.

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emily.alpert@latimes.com

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