Beekeeping Laws and Best Management Practices

Virginia State Laws re Beekeeping

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(1)
3.Practice proper management and control techniques to prevent colonies from swarming.
4.Maintain all colonies at least 10 feet away from property lines.
5.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.
6.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.
7.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.
8.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.
9.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.
10.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.
11.Obtain queens from suppliers located outside of Africanized honey bee (AHB) infested areas and localities adjacent to AHB infested areas.
12.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.
(1)Contact 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