Tidewater Beekeepers Association

Virginia Laws


Beekeepers shall:

1. Provide movable frames with combs or foundation in all hives used by them to contain bees, except for short periods, not to exceed the first spring honey flow, and to cause the bees in such hives to construct brood combs in such frames so that any of the frames may be removed from the hive without injuring other combs in such hive; and

2. Securely and tightly close the entrance of any hive in apiaries not free from disease and make the hive tight so that robber bees cannot enter, leave, or obtain honey from the hives as long as the hives remain in a location accessible by honeybees.

5. Private homes where the resident processes and prepares honey produced by his own hives, if: (i) the resident sells less than 250 gallons of honey annually; (ii) the resident does not process and sell other food products in addition to honey, except as allowed by subdivisions 3 and 4; (iii) the product complies with the other provisions of this chapter; and (iv) the product is labeled "PROCESSED AND PREPARED WITHOUT STATE INSPECTION. and WARNING: Do Not Feed Honey to Infants Under One Year Old." Nothing in this subdivision shall increase or diminish the authority of the Commissioner under § 3.2-5102; and

 Processed and Prepared without State Inspection
(include contact information)
Name/ phone number /website

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Limited Liability Virginia

Do I need Insurance for my bees? Kelley Beekeeping Article on Liability Insurance

Beekeeping Best Management Practices

The recommended practices in Virginia for maintaining honey bees in managed colonies include:

  1. Comply with all homeowner association, local, state, and federal ordinances, regulations, and laws pertaining to beekeeping.
  2. Maintain strong, healthy, populous colonies

a.      Remove or securely seal all empty hive equipment.

b.      Remove or combine all weak colonies.

c.      Treat or remove all disease and/or pest infested colonies.

d.      Report disease and/or pest infested colonies to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Office of Plant and Pest Services (Department)1

  1. Practice proper management and control techniques to prevent colonies from swarming.
  2. Maintain all colonies at least 10 feet away from property lines.
  3. Place all colonies less than 40 feet from property lines behind a barrier no less than 6 feet in height. Barriers should be of sufficient density to establish bee flyways above head height.
  4. Maintain a water source within 50 feet of colonies or less than one-half the distance to the nearest unnatural water source, which ever is closest for urban and suburban apiaries.
  5. Remove or relocate an apiary that is within 50 feet of any animal that is tethered, penned, kenneled, or otherwise prevented from escaping a stinging incident.
  6. Avoid opening or disturbing colonies when neighbors or the general public are participating in outside activities or using machinery within 150 feet of an apiary.
  7. Maintain colonies with honey bee races certified as European honey bees (EHB).

a.      Purchase queens, packaged bees, nucleus colonies, or established hives from certified EHB suppliers.

b.      Requeen when making divisions and splits of established colonies.

c.      Replace queens in all captured or trapped swarms within 30 days.

d.      Replace queens in all colonies every two years.

e.      Mark or clip queens prior to introduction to splits, swarms, and colonies.

f.        Replace all unmarked or unclipped queens within 21 days of discovery.

  1. Replace queens and destroy all drone brood in colonies exhibiting defensive behavior that may be injurious to the general public or domesticated animals.

a.      Report all colonies suspected of being overly defensive or non-EHB to the Department.

b.      Collect and submit samples of worker bees from the brood area of suspected non-EHB colonies to the Department.

c.      Depopulate within 7 days of notification all colonies determined to be from a pure or hybrid non-EHB race.

  1. Obtain queens from suppliers located outside of Africanized honey bee (AHB) infested areas and localities adjacent to AHB infested areas.
  2. In the event that AHB is shown to occur in a locality where an apiary is located:

a.      Annually replace queens in all colonies with queens produced from certified EHB stock.

b.      Maintain a copy of EHB certification for all queens purchased.

c.      Encourage the destruction of all captured or trapped swarms.

d.      Requeen, within 14 days with certified EHB queens, any swarms captured or trapped in localities adjacent or in proximity to an AHB infested area.

e.      Maintain and monitor at least one baited trap or hive in the vicinity of each apiary located in an AHB infested area.

1Contact information for the Department:

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Office of Plant and Pest Services

P.O. Box 1163

Richmond, VA 23218

Telephone: 804.786.3515

FAX: 804.371.7793

Email: VABees@vdacs.virginia.gov

Website: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant&pest/apiary.shtml

State Apiarist Keith Tignor

email: keith.tignor@vdacs.virginia.gov

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