Last night the Santa Monica city council voted to amend their municipal code to allow beekeeping on single family properties. Now, legalizing beekeeping is a bit like legalizing sunshine. Bees, after all, do their thing whether or not the government permits it or not. For every beekeeper in an urban area there must be hundreds of feral bee colonies living in walls, roofs and compost bins. Nevertheless, Santa Monica took a big step forward, joining cities around the world such as New York, Denver, Paris and London who have aligned their codes with the laws of nature.
Santa Monica’s amended code establishes a few rules:
- Beekeepers are limited to two hives.
- Hives must be registered with the City Animal Control Office.
- Hives must be five feet from a property line.
- Hives must have a six foot screen around them or be at least eight feet up (screening forces their flight pattern upwards).
- Hives must be given enough space so they don’t swarm.
- Hives must be requeened each year.
- A water source must be kept nearby.
- In addition, Santa Monica Animal Control officers were given new clarifications on their search powers when conducting investigations.
All of these requirements make sense to me except requeening and the arbitrary five foot distance (you have to screen them anyways so you’ve already got a six foot fence next to the hive box). And I can’t imagine how requeening, a practice I don’t agree with, will be enforced. I also hope that the Santa Monica Animal Control officers have the proper level of law enforcement training needed with their new search powers. And it’s unfortunate that you still can’t keep bees on multifamily properties (assuming every tenant signed off on the idea).
Quibbles aside, the Santa Monica City Council did the right thing. Now, what other cities will jump on the common sense bandwagon?