CITY HALL — Santa Monica could take a step toward repealing its beekeeping ban on Tuesday, as the City Council is set to discuss a proposal that also calls for setting up a bee sanctuary on City Hall-owned land.

The plan has the ardent support of the Los Angeles-area beekeeping community, members of which have criticized Santa Monica for its current policy of exterminating bees — rather than transporting them — when their hives worry residents.

Last month the proposal received a vote of confidence from of the Task Force on the Environment, with members of the panel calling a repeal of the beekeeping ban a no-brainer for a city that prides itself on environmental sustainability.

With a mysterious phenomenon known as “colony collapse disorder” greatly reducing the global bee population and threatening crops that depend on bees for pollination, protecting honey bees in urban environments should be an important goal for environmentalists, beekeeping activists say.

Councilman Kevin McKeown placed the beekeeping item on Tuesday’s agenda after learning about the issue from Santa Monica resident and beekeeper Daniel Salisbury, who had his illegal backyard beekeeping operation shut down by City Hall last year.

Since then Salisbury has been pushing City Hall to change its stance on bees and has offered to spearhead a volunteer effort to maintain a bee sanctuary near the Santa Monica Airport. Rather than killing bees that build hives too close to people, Salisbury and his supporters want to transport problem hives to the temporary yard, and later take the feral bees to farms where they can help pollinate crops.

If a majority of the council agrees on Tuesday, City Hall staff will begin work on a new bee ordinance which would later come before the council for final approval.

McKeown said it’s high time City Hall reconsidered its beekeeping ordinance, which hasn’t been reviewed for decades.

“Cities like New York and Denver have already legalized beekeeping, and the Obamas have two hives in their organic garden at the White House. Reviewing and potentially repealing our old law is the first step toward a saner and more environmentally sustainable policy on bees, which pollinate trees, flowers and food crops,” he said.

Max Wong, who raises bees in her backyard in the Mt. Washington section of Los Angeles, said most people are needlessly afraid of bees and are blithely unaware of the potentially serious threat of colony collapse disorder.

“Bees are disappearing at 6 percent every year globally, [and] when you hear about bees in urban areas it’s always, ‘Oh my god, Africanized insects,’” she said.

Danger from Africanized bees, also called “killer bees,” she said, is a media-generated sham. Bees that originated in Africa have been in the U.S. for 40 years, and while they tend to swarm more than other bee species, they don’t pose serious risks to humans, she said.

“When bees swarm they’re looking for new houses, they’re not hunting people,” she said.

A member of Backwards Beekeepers, an L.A.-area beekeeping group that is so named because it rejects the use of pesticides and other chemicals to keep bees thriving, Wong is among the supporters from outside of Santa Monica who see the city as a type of proving ground for better beekeeping policy in the region.

Beekeeping is permitted in some parts of Los Angeles, but, in Wong’s words, the rules are “checkerboard, arbitrary and stupid.”

“We’re working on Santa Monica, and then we’re going to turn around and work on L.A.,” she said.

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