By Valeria Sandoval
After almost a two-year debate, Fullerton is buzzing with news that residential beekeeping will be allowed.
The debate came to an end earlier just over a month ago, when city council members voted 4 to 1 to allow residents to have up to four beehives in their backyards.
Residents who are interested in keeping beehives in their backyard would need to acquire a permit and notify their neighbors of their upcoming hives. They will also receive pamphlets made by the city and Cal Poly Pomona with beekeeping regulations and practices.
The interest in residential beekeeping comes after a growing concern over the decline of the honeybee population, referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This has become a growing concern worldwide.
Because of this growing concern, the Community Development Department and Code Enforcement departments were authorized by the city council to research and develop a code language that is related to allowing residential beekeeping.
Guillermina Torrico, a community development department and code enforcement supervisor, presented her staff’s findings from an online survey of Fullerton residents, data collected at community meetings, and research about the best practices of other cities.
Of 274 Fullerton residents that had responded over eight months, “Ninety-one percent of them said they were in approval of the beekeepers being allowed in residential zones, and for those who stated they would want to keep bees, ninety-two percent of them stated they wanted to do so for environmental reasons,” she said.
Some residents had concerns.
“Primary concerns expressed to staff was due to allergies of bees,” she said, “We also heard that there were concerns of neighborhoods being turned into commercial use areas, and we also heard concerns of residents taking up beekeeping without prior experience or prior knowledge.”
Raul Franco, a new Fullerton resident, is one of the few residents who is deeply concerned about having beehives next door: “My daughter is one of those children that are allergic to bee stings,” he said. “The last thing I want is go outside and see her laying there because a bee or multiple bees came and [stung] her.”
Staff from the development department said that if someone provided medical proof that a child or adult is severely allergic, a permit requested by the interested neighbors would be denied.
To many residents who support residential beekeeping, the most important agenda is to try and educate the public.
Liz Savage, 30-year resident and president of the Orange County Beekeeping Association, was there to speak up in support for beekeeping.
“The big thing for me is education, the education of the bee, what they do, why they do what they do, to understand that there is no way, no matter how big your property is, or how small your property is, you’re going to keep those bees on your property or somebody else’s,” she said.