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Millions of angry bees could come to an urban neighborhood near you

More locations line up to legalize urban bee colonies

For those who read my recent blog about the move to legalize urban beekeeping in Los Angeles it bears revisiting as I did not realize the move is not just consigned to America's second-largest city.

While the effort to approve urban beekeeping in LA continues a similar idea is now an official proposal in front of San Diego supervisors.

Allow me to elaborate a few reasons why I think these ideas are misguided and perhaps even dangerous.

In 2013, California bee expert Eric Mussen, the now-retired University of California extension apiculturist, said that the Africanized honey bee is known to exist in California as far north as Tulare and San Luis Obispo counties.

According to Mussen, the Africanized honeybee has pretty much filled the southern California region. Moreover, tests on feral (not human-kept) honeybee colonies suggest that the Africanized bee represents about 80 percent of this total.

Information from UC Riverside suggests much the same and has a map showing how much of southern California has been colonized by the Africanized honeybee.

An article published by Gazette Review earlier this month cites a UC San Diego study suggesting that Africanized bees are expanding their presence in California.

Meanwhile, local lawmakers in California’s large urban megalopolis want to allow hobbyists – untrained individuals with no commercial interest in the larger community – to house colonies of honey bees in urban and suburban neighborhoods.

It’s not difficult to see where the bee love originates. People have been increasingly fascinated with the honeybee since media reports in about 2006 began suggesting that they’re dying in large numbers. Interest in honey bees is not a bad thing.

Good intentions do not always make for good public policy, and this is a clear example of where the two will not intersect with positive results.

Putting large numbers of the stinging insects close to schools and businesses will be bad for the bees and potentially dangerous to human health and safety. Will county supervisors assume the responsibility and liability when a homeowner's honeybee colony becoming Africanized next to elementary schools, hospitals and homes?

In an age of concerns over bee health and the use of pesticides in close proximity to honeybees, there cannot be a better example of a creating a location for a disaster to happen as many homeowners, businesses and schools regularly utilize the services of pest control companies to stave off a variety of pests in their homes.

It’s much easier for beekeepers in farm country to know what chemicals a neighboring grower is applying to his tree or row crop next to bees than it will be for urban beekeepers trying to track what millions of their neighbors may be spraying on any given day.

I would not want to have an urban pest control company in this area after the first bee kill is reported and news satellite trucks fill the neighborhood where the tragedy occurred.

While the Los Angeles ordinance is currently being studied by the city attorney’s office, according to an urban beekeepers website, San Diego supervisors are scheduled for a second reading and potential approval of the ordinance on Sept. 30.

I suggest that you attention to this issue as this idea could come to a city near you.

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