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Office of Sustainability and the Environment
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Bees are a vital part of our local ecosystem. We rely upon them for the pollination of up to 30% of the food we eat. They also give us honey, wax and other useful products. And today many domestic strains of bees have been bred for desirable traits including gentleness and reduced swarming.

However, many bees in commercial hives are dying from “colony collapse disorder,” the causes of which are not fully understood, but are likely the result of the industrial conditions in which they are kept. Small-scale urban beekeeping allows bees to live in more natural conditions, which can significantly increase their survival rates.

New scientific research has demonstrated the importance of pollinating animals like bees in the life-cycle of plants that produce vitamins and nutrients necessary for human health.
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As a result, in January 2011, City Council adopted an ordinance amending SMMC 4.04.130 to allow backyard beekeeping in single family residences throughout the City.

Any person intending to maintain any bee hive on any single-family residential property within the City must first register with the City’s Animal Control Office. The ordinance amendment allows urban beekeeping under this set of guidelines:
  • Hives may only be maintained on single-family residential property.
  • No more than two hives may be maintained on any single-family residential property.
  • All bee colonies shall be kept in inspectable hives consisting of moveable frames and combs. 
  • Hives must be kept in sound and usable condition at all times.
  • Hives shall be located at least five feet from all property lines. 
  • Hive entrances shall face away from or parallel to the nearest property line(s).
  • Hives must either be screened so that the bees must fly over a six-foot barrier, which may be vegetative, before leaving the property, or be placed at least eight-feet above the adjacent ground level.
  • Hives shall be continually managed to provide adequate living-space for their resident bees to prevent swarming.
  • Hives shall be requeened at least once every two years to prevent swarming.
  • A water source for bees shall be provided at all times on the property where the bees are kept to discourage bee visitation at swimming pools, hose bibs and other water sources on adjacent public or private property.
  • Hive maintenance materials or equipment must be stored in a sealed container or placed within a building or other bee-proof enclosure.
Penalties for violations
Any person violating this law shall be guilty of an infraction, which shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding two hundred fifty dollars, or a misdemeanor, which shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the County Jail for a period not exceeding six months or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Los Angeles County Regulations

In addition to registering with the City of Santa Monica’s Animal Control Office, all persons keeping bees in Los Angeles County are required by the California Food and Agriculture Code (FAC) to register with the Los Angeles County Agriculture Commissioner.
Last updated: Thursday, 05/14/2015

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Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626