Life on Earth is beautiful because of honey bees. We owe so much to these furry creatures, but sadly, they are dying off. And it’s because of us humans. Honey bee populations around the world are dropping exponentially at an alarming rate due to the human use of pesticides in industrial agriculture. When bees come into contact with these chemicals, many of them either become gravely ill or sterilized. As a result, numerous colonies around the world have suddenly “disappeared”. If these pesticides were outlawed, bees would perhaps be able to regain their numbers, but agricultural producers need the pesticides to protect their crops from being eaten. As a result, a political controversy formed, and politicians are reluctant to place the ban on these pesticides. However, many cities have begun to legalize an emerging urban practice that may aid in bringing honey bees back to their original numbers without causing collateral damage to other industries, private urban beekeeping.
Private urban beekeeping is a service to the environment as much as it is a profitable venture. In fact, the most direct benefit for farmers is the produce which ranges from honey to beeswax to honeycomb to royal jelly, etc. These are all highly sought-after items and can rake in quick profit. Apart from the economic benefits, farmers can see their labor take effect in the beauty of their surroundings. Although the change may not be as quick and obvious as the production of honey, time will eventually reveal the “fruits” of the farmer’s labor. Gardens will bloom with an array of colors, and a mosaic of flowers and greenery will stretch along the streets of cities and suburbs. Of course, all of these changes will not take place immediately. In fact, a farmer might not even notice their world alter at all; however, a bee farmer knows that bee farming is not supposed to be solely self-serving or the benefit of human society. The work they do is for the environment, for the survival of the honey bee, and for life on Earth.
Private urban beekeeping is a growing practice among environmentalists around the world. Cities such as Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, etc. have all legalized the practice and now other local areas such as Santa Ana have begun to form their own ordinances, pushing for the legalization of private beekeeping. Other cities across the nation should answer the world’s call and pass their own legislation to allow urban beekeeping. However, even if legislations are passed, public interest must also follow through and take this opportunity. As of now, there is growing popular support for urban beekeeping across various spectrums. There are teachers, organizations, forums, and various communities surrounding the practice, eager to teach and integrate new members. Thus, the infrastructure and opportunity is readily available for aspiring bee farmers to take advantage of. Locals should all invest the time to give urban beekeeping a chance and give back to mother nature. Take up beekeeping, join organizations, and build new communities centered around the preservation of honey bees and our natural world.
If you live in Santa Ana, sign the petition to help support the passage of the new ordinance: https://www.change.org/p/santa-ana-city-council-petitioning-santa-ana-city-council-to-legalize-urban-beekeeping-in-santa-ana
A General Overview on how to begin Beekeeping
California State Beekeepers Association
Orange County Beekeepers Association
A Booklet on Beekeeping in California
A PDF on How to Market Bee Products
Tips for Non-Beekeepers on How to Help the Bees