Laws on Beekeeping

Large Beehive image by Arne Bramsen from

All across the nation, people are rediscovering the art and science of beekeeping. A hive of bees is beneficial to a garden, even one up to four miles away, by pollinating flowers, fruits and vegetables. The real allure, though, is the honey, thick and sweet, which has so many uses.

It's great on homemade bread, and many cooks prefer it as an alternative to refined sugar. You don't have to live way out in the country to keep bees, but if you live in an urban or suburban area, you'll want to be aware of laws in your community that govern beekeeping.


honeypot with some honey image by Francois du Plessis from

"Negligence" is defined as the failure to exercise ordinary, expected care. Therefore, a beekeeper is considered negligent if she locates a hive where the bees could harm other people, such as right next to a property line. A beekeeper could also be considered negligent if she handled the bees at a time or in a way that could cause them to harm others. It is also considered negligence to knowingly own aggressive bees, such as the Africanised honey bee. By nature, bees sting. Anyone who is stung has to prove that the owner of the hive was negligent.

Taking Precautions

You must make a reasonable effort to ensure the safety of your hive. Post signs on your property that let people know you keep bees. Provide a water source for your bees, so they won't go in search of water from your neighbour's hot tub or swimming pool. Don't put your bees where everyone can see them, or every bee sting will be blamed on your hive. Believe it or not, modern science makes it possible to match the DNA from a stinger to the bees in your hive. So it's also possible to prove a bee sting was not from one of your bees.

State Inspection

bee, wax image by Greg Pickens from

Every state has laws regarding the inspection of apiaries. Inspections are usually done by a division within the Department of Agriculture. Laws vary, so be sure to be thoroughly acquainted with the laws in your state. If you plan to transport your bees across state lines, it is imperative that you familiarise yourself with the laws of the other states as well. Some states prohibit the transport of bees from across state lines.

Know the Law!

Litigation can be time-consuming and expensive. Know the law before establishing your hive. Beekeeping can be fun and rewarding, and profitable, but only if you operate within the laws your state has established.