L.A. Nonprofit Leaves No Bee Behind

John Hoeffel reports on the unwavering efforts of bee enthusiasts to legalize beekeeping in residential areas of Los Angeles.
July 17, 2012, 10am PDT | Emily Williams
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Rob and Chelsea McFarland have charged themselves with the task of petitioning neighborhood councils throughout Los Angeles in an attempt to allow bee hives within residential zones. The couple created the nonprofit organization HoneyLove which hosts events and raises awareness about the importance of beekeeping. "Now, almost a year and a half later, their devotion has won support from eight councils," writes Hoeffel. "And an enthusiastic city councilman has initiated a formal study, a first step that could bring L.A. on board with other bee-friendly cities, such as New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Santa Monica."

The McFarlands' zest for beekeeping is evident to all who come in contact with them, and they like to infuse their message with a sense of humor. Hoeffel writes, "At events, Rob sometimes wears a bee suit or a yellow T-shirt, and Chelsea typically appears more flamboyantly attired, often in a bee-striped tutu. 'It's pretty hard to ignore people when they are walking around in bee suits,'" says Rob.

Whimsical as they may be, the couple has definitely done their homework. "Neighborhood council members, used to dealing with irritated constituents, tend to be startled and pleased by the McFarlands. At a committee meeting of the South Robertson Neighborhoods Council, the two, finishing each other's sentences, answered questions about wasps, feral hives, stings, allergies, industrial agriculture, swarms, why bees are disappearing, laws in other cities and tainted honey."

Their infectious passion is spreading fast on their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages. With such a wide audience supporting their cause, the buzz about beekeeping is growing in Los Angeles. Says Kirk Anderson, a mentor to many L.A.-area beekeepers, "They're just unhindered enthusiasm and love for what they're doing, and how can you not love that?"

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Published on Saturday, July 14, 2012 in The Los Angeles Times
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