BY KATHERINE KIMS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BECKY REAMS
Urban beekeepers are not common in Los Angeles, where urban beekeeping is still illegal. However, hoping to follow in the footsteps of New York, San Francisco and, in 2010, Santa Monica, HoneyLove is petitioning to make the time-honored practice legal. With workshops and lectures held every Saturday—from beeswax symposiums to workshops on meadmaking—and an increasing interest in the city, there’s no doubt that they’ll soon meet their goal.
“We are part of, for lack of a better word, the green movement,” says Rob, “which virtually everyone has a stake in, from organic food to afforestation to beekeeping and animal conservation. Like a honeybee colony, we are working towards the same goal.”
With fundraising and educational campaigns, Rob and Chelsea have raised support for urban beekeeping in eight neighborhood councils including West LA, Atwater Village and Del Rey. The young couple, who met while they were working separately in Asia—Chelsea making cultural documentaries in India, and Rob working with orangutans in Borneo— share a love of nature and conservation. They hope to save bees, which have suffered a worrisome decline in recent years with the collapse of a third of their colonies.
The worry is that urban beekeeping would induce bees to thrive in an environment where they wouldn’t otherwise. The truth, Rob says, is that nine to 11 colonies already exist every square mile.
“There are already bees. Fears are overblown”…
“Wasps are more aggressive and you’re likely to get stung for no reason; whereas, for the honeybee, you have to threaten their hive,” Rob explains.
“The only way to save these bees was to give them a home. However, it’s legal only to exterminate a species and illegal to save them,” defends Rob, whose latest effort was creating , defends was a bee sanctuary, parceled within a 150-acre lot in Simi Valley, providing a home outside of the city’s walls, fences and chimneys.
And the greatest advantage to urban beekeeping? Great-tasting honey. With an array of plants to eat and food to forage on, small batch, urban honey proves to tastes both unique and delicious. He compares the varied city landscape to “a symphony versus one note of a drum.” As a frequenter of his neighborhood Sunday Mar Vista farmers’ market, Rob believes “Even against the fanciest honeys like Manuka, Tupelo and Himalayan, local always tastes better.”
Learn more at HoneyLove.org