Piedmont Beekeepers Association
Serving the Greater Lynchburg, Virginia area and surrounding counties
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Virginia Beekeeping Best Management Practices

Explains the Virginia Administrative Code 2VAC5-319-30 

Best Management Practices for the Operation of Apiaries in Order to Limit Operator Liability

Virginia Administrative Code

Title 2. Agriculture

Agency 5. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Chapter 319. Best Management Practices for the Operation of Apiaries in Order to Limit

Operator Liability

2VAC5-319-30. Best Management Practices for the Keeping of Honey

Bees.

A. For the purpose of this section, "bee" means the honey bee, Apis mellifera and genetic

variations thereof, at any living stage, and does not mean other hymenopterous insects that

depend on pollen and nectar for food.

B. An apiary operator shall maintain a healthy populous colony of bees by:

1. Removing or securely sealing any empty bee equipment in an apiary. For the purpose of

this subdivision, "empty" means without bees but containing comb or other materials

attractive to bees and does not include equipment in use as a bait hive for capturing a

swarm;

2. Removing all colonies in a state of decline, combining such colonies with other colonies,

or taking other action to establish a healthy populous condition in such colonies;

3. Repairing or replacing damaged or defective hive boxes, frames, and other bee

equipment;

4. Replacing frames containing old comb with new or cleaned frames containing

foundation such that all comb in a hive is replaced every five to seven years;

5. Feeding or maintaining an adequate amount of honey and pollen in a hive for brood

production during the growing season;

6. Preventing disturbance or injury to bee colony or hive by vertebrate pests; and

7. Managing the colony to address any disease or pest infestation or remove all disease or

pest-infested hives that may be detrimental to the health of other colonies in the vicinity

of the apiary. An apiary operator shall inspect hives for disease at least once every three

months.

C. For the purposes of this subsection, (i) "full hive" means a hive consisting of a minimum of

two eight-frame deep hive boxes for a Langstroth-style hive, or a hive of equivalent capacity,

that has movable frames with combs, and (ii) "nucleus hive" means a hive with less capacity

than a full hive. A full hive should enter the winter with a minimum of 60 pounds of honey

and the equivalent of four frames of pollen stores. A nucleus hive should enter the winter

with a minimum of 30 pounds of honey and the equivalent of two frames of pollen stores.

D. An apiary operator shall practice proper management and control techniques to reduce the

likelihood of swarming.

E. An apiary operator shall maintain all colonies at least 10 feet away from property lines to

prevent an individual from impeding normal bee flight activity from a hive. An apiary

operator shall place all colonies that are less than 40 feet from a property line behind a

barrier that is no less than six feet in height and is located between the colony and the

property line or elevate the hive entrance no less than six feet above the property line.

Barriers should be of sufficient density, length, and height to establish bee flyways six feet or

higher above ground level.

F. When an apiary is located in an area in which the apiary operator should reasonably expect

that the bees may rely on a nearby unnatural source of water, the apiary operator shall

maintain a water source within 50 feet of a colony or less than one-half the distance to the

nearest unnatural source of water, whichever is closest. An unnatural source of water

includes a swimming pool, bird bath, and pet or livestock watering receptacle.

G. An apiary operator shall avoid opening or disturbing a colony when the apiary operator has

knowledge that another person is participating in outside non-beekeeping activities or using

machinery within 150 feet of the apiary.

H. An apiary operator shall only maintain a colony with EHB or EHB hybrid stock and shall:

1. Purchase queens, packaged bees, nucleus colonies, or established hives from suppliers

providing EHB stock, or obtain a queen and bees from a local supplier or raise queens from

stock owned by the apiary operator, provided the origin and EHB status of the mother

queen is known;

2. Not obtain queens or bees from suppliers within 100 miles from known Africanized

honey bee populations;

3. Introduce queens from healthy stock when making divisions or splits of established

colonies;

4. Replace queens in all captured or trapped swarms within 45 days of capturing or trapping

swarms;

5. Replace queens in all colonies every two years to minimize swarming behavior; and

6. Mark the thorax or clip a wing of the queens in a manner that allows the age of the

queens to be determined prior to their introduction to splits, swarms, or colonies.

I. An apiary operator shall limit the number of colonies that he places in his apiary as follows:

1. If the property on which the apiary is located is 1/4 acre or smaller, the apiary shall not

have more than two colonies. The apiary operator may increase the number of colonies up

to four colonies for not more than 60 consecutive days for the purpose of queen mating and

swarm control.

2. If the property on which the apiary is located is more than 1/4 acre, but less than 1/2

acre, the apiary shall not have more than four colonies. The apiary operator may increase

the number of colonies up to eight colonies for not more than 60 consecutive days for the

purpose of queen mating and swarm control.

3. If the property on which the apiary is located is 1/2 acre or more, but less than one acre,

the apiary shall not have more than six colonies. The apiary operator may increase the

number of colonies up to 12 colonies for not more than 60 consecutive days for the purpose

of queen mating and swarm control.

4. If the property on which the apiary is located is one acre or more, the apiary shall not

have more than six colonies per acre. The apiary operator may increase the number of

colonies up to 12 colonies per acre for not more than 60 consecutive days for the purpose

of queen mating and swarm control.

5. If all colonies are placed at least 200 feet from all property lines, there is no limit on the

number of colonies that an apiary operator may place in his apiary.

Statutory Authority

§ 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia.