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Posted 23 Jan 19

Legalities of Keeping Bees

by Ali Foster

With the number of bees in the world on the decline, you may be interested in trying to revive the population with a hive of your own. That’s great! However, before you don your bee suit and veil, think carefully about where you want to set up your hive. The care and keeping of bees is a somewhat complicated endeavour, and if you live in a home that you rent or on property that you do not own, you may have to negotiate some legal loopholes in order to establish your hive.

The Legislative Bee-ginning

The legality surrounding the keeping and preservation of bees has a somewhat short history. In 1980, Parliament drew up The Bee Act, which continues to serve as a preventative measure to keep UK citizens from introducing pests into a bee-friendly ecosystem. Parliament also controls the importation of bees, noting that only queen bees and attendant worker bees may be imported from Third Countries, with the exception of New Zealand.

Now, with the threat of Brexit, bees face legislative risks. Brexit seems set to allow previously banned pesticides into use in the UK, meaning that an already declining bee population could suffer further without our assistance. You’ll note, of course, that there is no wide-spread legislation dictating who can and cannot keep bees; this is determined at a local level.

Bees and Private Property

If you live on private property, you generally do not need a license to keep bees. However, check in with your local agricultural authorities and council before setting up a hive in your backyard. Unmonitored bees that sting your neighbours may see you saddled with a hefty fine, if you’re not careful or found to not be complying with the legalities of your jurisdiction.

Bees and Rentals

If you live in a built up area, though, or if you’re renting your land or apartment, then the story may be different. Working with a landlord and or letting agency may prevent you from establishing your hive. There are certain acts in place that determine how a landlord must set up a rental property. These requirements are in place to ensure the safety of tenants and to outline the legal responsibilities of a landlord. If you’re interested in beekeeping while renting, though, there has been an uptick in the number of landlords installing beehives on the roofs of their facilities. Keep a keen eye open while searching for your next property, then, if you want to experiment with beekeepin

titleernatively, if you rent your living space, don’t have hives on your roof, and still want to work to protect bees, it’s possible for you to adopt a hive. Look to your local beekeeping association here and here to find a hive near you. There are also plenty of hives on public property that you can volunteer to tend to, once you’ve contacted the appropriate people.

Whether or not you can establish your own beehive, then, depends on where you live as well as the type of property you're in. A landlord who is not a part of an ecological community cannot take on the legal responsibilities of your bees for you. As such, if you’re interested in working to preserve the bee population, look to your community for the opportunity to don a bee suit of your own.


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