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There are many reasons to start beekeeping. You may want to harvest your own honey and beeswax, add pollinators to your garden, or you may just find bees fascinating.  And with urban beekeeping on the rise and beekeeping supplies easy to obtain, there’s no better time to become a beekeeper. But, before you start you must ask this question – is beekeeping legal in my city?

If you live in the US, beekeeping is probably legal in your city. However, your city will have ordinances in place that must be followed. Scroll down to see beekeeping ordinances by state.

The absolute first thing you should do before becoming a beekeeper is to check if beekeeping is legal in your city.  It would be such a shame to purchase a beehive and supplies just to find out that you cannot raise bees in your area.  

Luckily, you will find that many cities do allow beekeeping.  Some ordinances put restrictions on beekeeping such as how many hives you can have.  Finding that information can sometimes take a little research. Below are some tips to determine if beekeeping is legal in your city.  

Contact Your Local Beekeepers Association

Your local beekeepers association will be able to assist you in finding out if beekeeping is legal where you are.  Members of the association have a passion for bees and will gladly help you start out with beekeeping.  

List of Beekeepers Associations by State

Search Your City’s Government Website

Most cities have useful websites containing lots of information regarding laws and ordinances.  If you are wondering if beekeeping is legal in your city, your city’s website would be a good place to look.  

For example, a quick search on my city’s website brought up a document regarding animals and fowl.  Upon reading the document I was able to find out the special requirements for honeybees. Here, 8 movable frame hives are allowed per lot and must not be located within 25 feet of any property line or public street unless it is situated behind an adequate fence. Your city ordinances will likely be similar.  

Call Your City

Your state’s Department of Agriculture would likely handle beekeeping ordinances, so calling them would be a good place to start.  They should be able to assist you in learning about the legalities of beekeeping in your city. If all else fails, give your city clerk a call.  Your city clerk will be able to direct you to the proper resources.  

Beekeeping Laws by State

Alabama http://agi.alabama.gov/divisions/plant-health/apiary-protection-unit/alabama-apiary-laws
Alaskahttp://www.touchngo.com/lglcntr/akstats/statutes/title03/chapter47.htm
Arizonahttp://uair.library.arizona.edu/system/files/usain/download/azu_tj9791_a27a_1933_w.pdf
Arkansashttps://www.aad.arkansas.gov/Websites/aad/files/Content/5944144/Circ_5_Apiary_law_and_regs.pdf
Californiahttps://ucanr.edu/sites/sandiegobees/Laws_-_Policies/
Coloradohttps://www.colorado.gov/pacific/agplants/colorado-bee-and-bee-products-act
Connecticuthttps://portal.ct.gov/CAES/Bee-Information/Bee-Information/Laws-Pertaining-to-Honey-Bees-in-Connecticut
Delawarehttps://delcode.delaware.gov/title3/c075/index.shtml
Floridahttp://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0500-0599/0586/0586.html
Georgiahttp://agr.georgia.gov/honey-bees.aspx
Hawaiihttps://www.honolulu.gov/rep/site/ocs/roh/ROHChapter7.pdf
Idahohttps://agri.idaho.gov/main/plants/bees-apiary-inspection/
Illinoishttps://www2.illinois.gov/sites/agr/Insects/Bees/Pages/default.aspx
Iowahttps://www.iowaagriculture.gov/AgDiversification/apiary.asp
Kansashttp://www.nekba.org/muni-codes.html
Kentuckyhttps://www.kyagr.com/statevet/honeybees.html
Louisianahttps://www.lsuagcenter.com/NR/rdonlyres/CB2656D7-A2EA-4E6D-8DC3-A88E889E763E/61883/pub2524modelbeekeepingAug09HIGHRES.pdf
Mainehttps://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/apiary/index.shtml
Marylandhttps://mda.maryland.gov/plants-pests/Pages/apiary_inspection.aspx
Massachusettshttps://www.mass.gov/apiary-program-honey-bees
Michiganhttps://pollinators.msu.edu/resources/beekeepers/michigan-beekeeping-rules-and-regulations/
Minnesotahttps://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants-insects/apiary-program-information
Mississippihttps://www.mdac.ms.gov/bureaus-departments/plant-industry/honeybee-program/
Missourihttp://www.revisor.mo.gov/main/ViewChapter.aspx?chapter=264
Montanahttps://agr.mt.gov/Bees
Nebraskahttp://www.nda.nebraska.gov/regulations/plant/NebraskaApiaryAct.pdf
Nevadahttps://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-552.html
New Hampshirehttps://www.agriculture.nh.gov/divisions/plant-industry/faq-apiary-beekeeping.htm
New Jerseyhttps://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/beeinspection.html
New Mexicohttp://www.nmda.nmsu.edu/home/divisions/aes/entomology-nursery/apiary/
New Yorkhttps://www.agriculture.ny.gov/PI/apiary_inspection.html
North Carolinahttp://www.ncagr.gov/plantindustry/Plant/apiary/index.htm
North Dakotahttps://www.nd.gov/ndda/plant-industries/apiary-honey-bees/information-beekeepers
Ohiohttps://www.ohiostatebeekeepers.org/resources/ohio-apiary-laws/
Oklahomahttps://www.oda.state.ok.us/cps/bees.htm
Oregonhttps://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/IPPM/InsectsSpiders/Pages/BeesApiaries.aspx
Pennsylvanniahttps://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Plants_Land_Water/PlantIndustry/Entomology/Apiary/Pages/default.aspx
Rhode Islandhttp://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/agriculture/documents/pwg_docs_apiculture_laws.pdf
South Carolinahttps://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t46c037.php
South Dakotahttps://sdda.sd.gov/ag-services/beekeeping-apiary-resources/
Tennesseehttps://www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/bees/apiary-registration.html
Texashttps://txbeeinspection.tamu.edu/regulations/
Utahhttps://ag.utah.gov/farmers/plants-industry/apiary-inspection-and-beekeeping/
Vermonthttps://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/chapter/06/172
Virginiahttps://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services-beekeeping-apiary-inspection.shtml
Washingtonhttps://www.pugetsoundbees.org/beekeeping-laws/
West Virginiahttps://agriculture.wv.gov/divisions/animalhealth/Pages/Apiary.aspx
Wisconsinhttps://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/ApiaryProgram.aspx
Wyominghttps://wyagric.state.wy.us/divisions/ts/statutes-rules-a-regulations

Summary 

If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper the first thing you must ask is, is beekeeping legal in my city?  Each city has different ordinances and regulations for beekeeping. To find your city’s laws you can contact your local beekeepers association, check your city’s website, or call your city clerk.  This article has also compiled a list of beekeeping laws by state. 

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