According to a United Nations report, of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. That means without a ready crop of beekeepers to protect and sustain hives, the entire world’s environmental balance could be threatened.
The good news is, communities across the nation are loosening up regulations that are permitting more property owners – particularly in dense urban settings – to establish and keep bee hives. In early September the Los Angeles City Council was the latest seeking to draft an ordinance granting all homeowners the right to own bee hives.
John Caldeira, an expert on the subject of urban beekeeping from Dallas, Texas, recently blogged on outdoorplace.org about the growing corps of urban and suburban beekeepers establishing hives in back yards and even on city roof-tops.
City beekeepers have an added challenge, however, in that they must take special care so their bees do not become a nuisance to neighbors, or even appear to be a problem.
Caldeira says relatively few communities in the U.S. outlaw beekeeping. But most do have “nuisance laws” that are intended to outlaw things that most people would find objectionable.
Other communities have laws that put practical constraints on beekeeping, such as limits on numbers of hives and a requirement that the beekeeper provide water for the bees. So prospective beekeepers should always learn about legal restrictions before keeping bees.
Several years ago, third-generation beekeeper Zan Asha published a feature in Grit urging aspiring beekeepers to research their new hobby. While this sounds obvious, Asha says he’s heard of young keepers getting bees because they are the new, trendy, green thing, with no idea how to actually care for them.
Asha advises anyone interested in exploring beekeeping to consult the massive selection of books, attend beekeeping classes, or click onto YouTube for videos showcasing everything from bee behavior to harvesting honey.