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Backyard Farmers To Take Their Case To The Town Council

Corte Madera will once again consider whether or not to legalize the keeping of bees and chickens in residential areas.

Corte Madera could take one step closer toward suburban farming when the Town Council meets Tuesday, March 6, to discuss whether or not to expand the areas where residents can keep honey bees and chickens.

The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Raising bees and chickens is currently allowed in only a few areas of Corte Madera. The amendment would open up residential zones to the non-commercial keeping of bees and chickens.

According to the analysis of the amendment: "The proposal limits the number of honey bee hives or chickens based on lot size. The proposal requires a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for keeping of all honey bee hives. The proposal requires a CUP for keeping chickens on lots smaller than 5,000 sq. ft.; no CUP would be required for lots larger than 5,000 sq. ft."

The proposal has been a hot-button topic around town as it has made its way through the Planning Commission to the Town Council.

One opponent to the proposal wrote to Larkspur-Corte Madera Patch: "Chickens Are Noisy! Bees cannot be contained! Residents that want chickens or honey bees in this densely populated town are not being very neighborly."

Proponents argue that bees and chickens can actually be good for the environment and are not likely to cause a hazard if properly managed.

The proposal would prohibit roosters, quackinq ducks, guinea fowl and peafowl and limit chickens to six or fewer on parcels up to 5,000 square feet or eight chickens on parcels 5,000 square feet to a half-acre.

Also:

• Chickens must be kept in an enclosure or fenced area at all times. Chickens shall be secured within a chicken coop during non-daylight hours.

• A chicken coop structure is required to accommodate all chickens and shall comply with building location, setback and lot coverage standards for an accessory structure within the district it is located and shall be setback a minimum of 20 feet from an occupied dwelling on an adjacent residential parcel.

• Maintenance and operation of the chicken keeping shall include all applicable best management practices to provide safe and healthy living conditions for the chickens while avoiding adverse impacts on surrounding properties that would be detrimental to the public health, safety or Welfare.

Residents would be allowed to keep up to bee hives on a lot of a half-acre or less, or four hives on a lot greater than a half-acre.

Also:

• Honey bee hive boxes (colony) shall comply with building location, setback and lot coverage standards for an accessory structure within the district it is located and shall be setback a minimum of 20 feet from an occupied dwelling on an adjacent residential parcel.

• Honey bee hive boxes (colony) shall be located at least 20 feet from a public street or a public pedestrian or bicycle trail.

• A convenient and adequate source of Water shall be available to the honey bee colony at all times.

• A flyway barrier at least 6 feet in height consisting of a solid wall, fence or dense vegetation shall be installed between the honey bee hive colony and an abutting parcel in a residential district.

• Maintenance and operation of the honey bee hive shall include all applicable best management practices to provide safe and healthy living conditions for the bees while avoiding adverse impacts on surrounding properties that would be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare.

Popo March 02, 2012 at 04:08 AM
"Beekeepers help fight loss of colonies." "Colony collapse is not a new phenomenon, having occurred at least 20 times over the last 150 years, he said. Dead bees are not found but the queen can remain, sometimes with younger bees and a few adults. Colonies have been increasingly lost since 1945, but the trend received little attention until 2006, when an explosion of stories hit the media. The die-offs have continued sporadically. The bee disappearances could be a result of 'altruistic suicide' in the social insects, vanEngelsdorp said. Bees could be trying to protect the colony as a whole by flying off when ill. Still, the varroa mite, a parasite that attaches itself to a bee, has been one of the leading causes of bee death. 'It’s large,' vanEngelsdorp said. 'It would be like a dinner plate feeding on you.' The mites, which can carry several viruses and diseases, make the bees more susceptible to ailments and likely contribute to colony collapse. Pesticides could have an effect on bees but might not be the overall culprit some think. Healthy colonies have shown heavier levels than those that have died off, vanEngelsdorp said." http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111207/NEWS11/312070107/Beekeepers-help-fight-loss-colonies
Popo March 02, 2012 at 04:48 AM
"Understanding Honeybee Diseases" US NEWS "Virtually all living things, from the smallest organisms to humans, are vulnerable to infectious diseases. Most humans know they have to stay away from other infected people if they don’t want to get sick themselves. But how does nature figure it out? 'Infectious agents often drain the host of nutrients, and hosts need energy to fight these infections, so when a bee is sick, it becomes hungry,' Naug says. 'Hunger alters their smell, just like we have keto smell [the bad breath caused by hunger or exercise] when we’re starving. And this makes sick and hungry bees drawn to other sick and hungry bees, while healthy and well-fed bees hang out with other healthy and well-fed bees. And, once again, this might restrict the spread of a disease.' In other words, because hungry bees are sick bees, they tend to interact with other sick bees that smell like them, and avoid the healthy bees that don’t smell like them. 'Maybe that’s nature’s way of preventing disease transmission,' Naug says." http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2012/03/01/understanding-honeybee-diseases
Popo March 02, 2012 at 04:53 AM
"Deadly parasite turns Bay Area honeybees into zombie slaves." "Infected bes were found in San Francisco, Oakland, Orinda, Walnut Creek, Concord, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Benicia, San Rafael, Mill Valley and Larkspur. Bees from the infected hives are often infected with a virus and a fungus -- suggesting the fly might be a vector for these pathogens." http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_19666381
Popo March 03, 2012 at 06:09 AM
"What Does Your Neighborhood Taste Like? Bee Local Wants to Find Out." "He wouldn't just harvest a batch of honey and try to sell it. He would develop batches of neighborhood varieties and try to sell those. Bees forage in small areas, and the plants that thrive in an area determine a specific honey's flavor profile. Over the next couple of years, he found a few hosts living in four nearby Portland neighborhoods and placed hives in their yards. But, to keep harvesting honey that tastes exactly like where you live, Magista needs more hives and more hosts. There are perks to hosting hives, too (all hosts get some honey), although he admits that most interested hosts 'usually just want to do what they can to help the honeybee.' (He says residents of Olympia, Seattle and San Francisco have all expressed interest in hosting hives.)" http://www.neighborhoodnotes.com/news/2012/02/what_does_your_neighborhood_taste_like_bee_local_wants_to_find_out/
Popo March 04, 2012 at 08:06 PM
"Varroa destructor can ONLY replicate in a honey bee colony. Varroa mites have been found on flower feeding insects such as the bumblebee, the scarab beetle, and the flower-fly. Although the Varroa mite cannot reproduce on these insects, its presence on them may be a means by which it spreads short distances." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varroa_destructor

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