The Santa Barbara Beekeepers Association so successfully packed the Riviera Theater last Friday evening with a special showing of the documentary More Than Honey that they had to turn away about 200 people who showed up for the free film and opportunity to hear filmmaker Marcus Imhoof expound on the plight of honey bees worldwide. The evening’s turnout has capped a six-month period for the local beekeepers that’s proven almost frenetic in pace.
The association started the year with a new school mentorship program, offering five teens who otherwise might be at risk of gang involvement paid apprenticeships in the art of beekeeping. Two months ago, the association spearheaded an effort to thwart state agriculture and pesticide agencies then seeking to apply pesticides to the citrus trees of about 500 Goleta residences. State officials insisted that the emergency application was necessary to prevent the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid, a devastating menace to citrus trees for which no cure exists. Beekeepers objected that the chemicals involved would prove damaging to bees if applied when the trees were flowering. (And at that time, they were.) Although the beekeepers did not stop the state officials from proceeding, they did persuade 106 property owners to opt-out. By contrast, 110 agreed to allow the pesticides to be applied.
Beyond that, the association is now offering a second round of beekeeping classes to interested members of the public. Nationally, most beekeepers are past the age of retirement, and the hope is by priming the pump for a new generation of keepers, a knowledgeable cadre of new activists can be enlisted to agitate on behalf of honey bees, a species now under significant environmental assault.