Fullerton officials are considering legalizing beekeeping in the city’s residential neighborhoods and have been looking into best practices.
After more than a year of research, staff members are recommending that the City Council adopt guidelines for managing hives responsibly that were written with the help of the Orange County Beekeepers Association and a Cal Poly Pomona College of Agriculture professor.
The Planning Commission recently supported the move, which wouldn’t put a lot of specific requirements in place, such as requiring a permit or a certain size for a yard, but would instead establish practices beekeepers would be asked to use.
The proposed guidelines would put “Fullerton more on the lighter side of enforcement,” said Planning Manager Matt Foulkes. “We want to only get involved when there is something negative happening.”
A backyard hive would be barred if a neighbor has a documented severe allergy and the city is told about it, Foulkes said: “In those cases, we are going to restrict residential beekeeping.”
Currently in Fullerton, under the law, residential hives can’t be nurtured.
Liz Savage, a backyard beekeeper in Fullerton and a leader with the county association, has been visiting city halls in Orange County to encourage communities to allow hives in residential areas.
“It seems like the cities are being more proactive about it,” she said. “Bees are so important to the pollination of our food. People who have backyard gardens are suffering, because their plants aren’t getting pollinated. To me, it just makes common sense.”
She has been keeping bees on her quarter-acre south Fullerton property for about two years. Last year, she pulled about 21 pounds of honey from her hive.
“We ate some, we gave some away,” she said. “My husband sold some of it to the guys at work.”
Some residents said the proposal is too loose to keep irresponsible or novice beekeepers from getting in over their heads with aggressive or neglected hives. At a recent Planning Commission meeting, a mom of a child with severe allergies expressed safety concerns.
“If she was my neighbor and I knew her daughter was deathly allergic, I would move the bees,” Savage said. “I would have no problem doing that.”
The public is short on education about how bees in a maintained hive act, said Cal Poly Pomona’s Mark Haag, who helped the city write the best-practices guidelines.
“A prudent beekeeper doesn’t want a bad hive, an…