Since their introduction in the early 1600s, honey bees have been an essential part of agriculture in North America. Production of honey is the most widely viewed benefit of honey bees. However, their value as pollinators far exceeds honey production.
The Virginia Bee Law authorizes an apiary inspection program which promotes the science of beekeeping, as well as regulates the movement of honey bees into the state and the sale of bees, queens and used bee equipment. The Virginia Bee Law requires that honey bees on combs, hives and equipment with combs must be accompanied by a certificate of health issued by the Office of Plant Industry Services prior to being sold in Virginia. In addition, any person who brings honey bees on combs or used equipment with comb into the Commonwealth must first obtain an Entry Permit from Virginia’s State Apiarist. Queens and packaged honey bees brought into the Commonwealth must be accompanied by a certificate of health issued by the state of origin.
To facilitate communication between beekeepers and agricultural producers and pesticides applicators VDACS has acquired BeeCheck™, Apiary Registry by FieldWatch®. The program is an on-line system for mapping apiary locations and providing beekeeper contact information. Participation is free and voluntary.
For interstate movement of hives, Virginia uses a uniform inspection certificate. Virginia also participates in the Mid-Atlantic States Agreement, which specifies inspection requirements for bee diseases and pests.
Office of Plant Industry Services staff members frequently give presentations, participate in demonstrations and conduct programs to educate the public about the importance of honey bees, beekeeping practices and pollination.
Services & Resources
Virginia Pollinator: Resource for Virginians who need bees or have bees to rent for pollination.
Click here for Office of Plant Industry Services contact information.
Local Beekeeping Laws
Your local government may also have concerns about how beekeeping affects your community, on a neighbor-to-neighbor basis. The more people are in your area, the more your community may be affected. Bees can sting and swarm and they naturally roam, meaning there’s a chance they can hurt people off your property.
Not all communities have ordinances that specifically address beekeeping. Take the Hampton Roads, Va., metropolitan area as a sample. In Newport News and Hampton, there is no specific mention of beekeeping, but there are general ordinances regarding livestock and wild animals.
Poquoson has an ordinance regarding farm animals in general but not bees in particular.
Norfolk has an ordinance regarding nuisance animals and “wild, exotic or poisonous animals.” York,
Virginia Beach and Suffolk specifically regulate beekeeping under their residential zoning ordinances. In cases where the ordinances are unclear, ask advice from your city or county administrators about how the locality would view your hobby.
How do I find the beekeeping laws for my city or county?
Check your county or city ordinances. Some cities or counties have beekeeping specific ordinances while others have beekeeping as a part of the nuisance laws.
Find Virginia Ordinances HERE