A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR CLUB2012 to 2017
Five years ago, four beekeepers (Barbara, Roberta, Dick and I) got tired of driving to La Mirada for the meetings of the Beekeepers Association of Southern California. We decided to form a club in Long Beach. Thanks to Deborah Kearn, we began holding meetings at the Peace Garden in MLK Park. Our membership grew quickly.
Soon, we became a presence in Long Beach supporting the rapidly growing interest in beekeeping. At the Bixby Knolls First Fridays and other community events, we promoted beekeeping and educated folks about alternatives to killing unwanted bees populations. We also joined with Long Beach Grows and other like-minded individuals to advocate for municipal code changes that would allow Long Beach residents to keep bees, chickens, and goats in their backyards
In early 2012, then council member James Johnson stopped by our table at a First Friday event. I asked him whether the city had any land that might be made available to our club as a Bee Sanctuary, a place where rescued bees waiting for adoption could temporarily reside. James told me that they had just completed the development plan for Willow Springs, and that there might be space available for this purpose. He introduced us to Larry Rich, LB Sustainability Coordinator, who assisted us in finding a space and getting it allocated. During this time, James, along with Sasha Kanno, of Farm Lot 59, introduced us to the people at EDCO, who offered their conference room for our meetings. Our meetings continue to be held there on the first Sunday of every month.
We started pursuing the creation of the bee sanctuary in 2013. In December of that year, our proposal was approved by the Parks and Recreation department. However, difficulties arose. There were many legalities and other requirements that needed to be addressed.
In the summer of 2015, the municipal code changes allowing urban agriculture in our city were unanimously passed by the mayor and city council. These changes permitted LB residents to keep backyard bees.
In 2016, we decided to make another attempt at creating the sanctuary. Parks and Rec told us that, in order to proceed, our club had to become a “legal entity.” At the time, this seemed to be a monumental hurdle.
Soon after, we were interviewed by Courtney Tompkins, a reporter for the Press Telegram. Her article about us mentioned our goal of establishing a bee sanctuary and the obstacles we were facing. As a result of this story, David Zeligs, a Long Beach attorney, stepped forward. He donated his services. This enabled us to incorporate and apply for tax deferred status.
By April 2017, we had a signed contract with Parks and Rec for this sanctuary and the keys to this site.
Our Eagle Scout project manager, Mauri Lathouwers, his Scout Master Mauri Sr., and Boy Scout Troop 105 began working on the sanctuary immediately. In three months, they had completed this wonderful facility you see before you.
Since that time, the bee sanctuary has been very busy. Our bee rescuers have relocated over a dozen bee swarms here. And, we will soon be conducting classes to teach interested folks how to manage their own backyard hives.
It was a long road getting here, filled with obstacles and challenges, but with the help of a lot of friends along the way, our Long Beach Bee Sanctuary is now a reality. We couldn’t be happier or prouder of this accomplishment.