LAUREL CANYON—Urban beekeepers have to save the day. How is it that when I walk by my neighbor’s rosemary the bees are hard at work?  There are plenty of them.  I read about bee colony collapse and again ask, how is that possible?  We’ve got lots of bees.

I’ve seen swarms at Laurel Pass and Mulholland and Carmar and Allenwood.  One neighborhood even circulated a request for “how to move a bee colony without killing the bees?”  I understood that there was a Master Beekeeper around here, but that colony was exterminated.  So sad I thought.

Commercial beekeepers stress out their bees by trucking hives for thousands of miles to farms where they release the bees to pollinate the fields.  They feed them high fructose corn syrup for nutrition, and introduce chemicals to force the bees away from the hives to harvest honey.  So how then, does bee colony collapse come as a surprise to them?

A friend mentioned that he’d love to have a beehive.  I’d read an article that there was an active movement to have beekeeping become legal in Los Angeles.

Is he on to something? Producing your own raw honey is very healthy. Bees collect nectar in an area with a five mile radius so the honey they produce comes from your direct surroundings. The immune system boost that honey provides is greatest when it’s directly related to where you live. The traditional way of colleting honey crushes part of the wax in the honey, which means some of the pollen and the antibiotic that the bees produce to keep their own kind healthy is part of the honey.

Having a colony on your balcony might not be ideal but it would be very possible on a rooftop that is not used often. Bees will not sting you unless you annoy them.  To produce your own honey you would need to keep a colony for around one year.  It shouldn’t take up too much of your time. You need to monitor for disease, make sure the temperature for the colony is OK and that there is enough honey to get the bees through the winter months.

HoneyLove Urban Beekeepers is aLos Angelesbased not-for-profit that has been working on the issue of legalizing urban beekeeping in residential areas inLos Angeles. Sign the Petition on  Several Neighborhood Councils have voted to support the effort to legalize urban beekeeping.

Backward Beekeepers will rescue wild honey bees that have swarmed on your property.  (Read their limitations) “Backwards” because they rely on observation and natural practices to keep our bees thriving rather than pesticides, chemicals, or treatments of any kind.  They will send out speakers to classrooms.

Having trouble warming up to the little critters?  A little known fact about bees is that they build up electrical fields as they flutter their wings, or rub body parts together. Studies show that the electric field can be quite strong, like when we drag our feet across a carpet. Scientists believe this is how bees communicate vital information such as which flowers have been visited by other insects, and still have abundant pollen or nectar; or for social communication.

HoneyLove Urban Beekeepers is having a fundraiser on June 8 from 7-11 p.m.2525 Michigan Avenue, Building I, Santa Monica, CA 90404.  They’ll have Yellow Carpet events. Yes, they have a sense of humor!

By Joann Deutch