Do You Need a License to Keep Bees?

Beekeeping is a hobby that’s enjoyed by millions of people around the world. It has also been a tradition for centuries and has been practiced in some cultures since ancient times. Beekeepers come from all walks of life: farmers, environmentalists, hobbyists, and more. But what about its legalities? Do you need to be a licensed professional to keep bees?

When it comes to general beekeeping, there are no laws requiring you to be licensed. But some states do require beekeepers to register their bees with the state department of agriculture, while others require you to be certified through an accredited program if you want to sell your honey.

In this article, we will take a look at the laws regarding beekeeping in each state and how you can get started.

Beekeeping legality and the law

When it comes to beekeeping, there are many legal considerations you’ll want to think about and be aware of. The legality of keeping bees varies from state to state, but federal laws also apply for interstate transport and commerce. 

This means that even if your state doesn’t require a license for beekeeping, you still need one if you’re transporting bees across state lines or selling them in another country.

The case is different when it comes to zoning ordinances and municipal laws—in these cases, local governments may impose restrictions on where beekeepers can keep their hives. 

Zoning ordinances often require that all businesses operate within specified areas while municipal codes may include specific requirements related to how close a hive can be placed to property lines, buildings or other structures like fences or windowsills. Municipal codes will also often dictate whether a permit is required before building an apiary (bee yard).

Why you should keep bees

Keeping bees is good for your health, the local economy and the environment.

In addition to being a fun hobby, beekeeping can provide great benefits to both you and your community. Bees are essential to pollinating plants and crops—without them, we wouldn’t have food! In fact, bees contribute up to $20 billion worth of pollination services annually in the U.S. alone.

To add, studies show that close proximity between people who keep bees and those who do not has been shown improve mental health outcomes while decreasing stress levels among all involved parties (including their pets).

Do I need to be a professional to keep bees?

It depends. In some states, beekeeping is considered a hobby even if you’re trying to make money from your honey and beeswax. In other states, beekeeping is considered a business and requires licensing (and inspections). If you are just keeping bees for fun or as an educational experience for children, it’s more likely that your state considers it a hobby and does not require any licenses or inspections from the government.

In general, if you’re trying to keep bees in order to sell honey at markets or through retail stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s then yes—you will probably need some sort of license. However, if all you want is an educational experience for yourself and perhaps some friends then no—you do not need any kind of license!

What is required to keep bees?

You will need to get a hive, which can be made from wood or plastic. The size of your hive depends on how many bees you want to keep. Hives should be at least 10 feet from any structure (like your house) and at least 100 yards away from any tree or plant that has known pesticide residue. If you’re using a wooden hive, make sure it’s coated with linseed oil or another sealant to prevent rotting and ensure that it lasts as long as possible.

Also required: protective gear! You’ll need a veil, gloves, and boots to protect yourself against stings while handling the bees in their hives. Bees are attracted to dark colors like black and blue; this is why beekeepers often wear white suits when working with them!

How do I register my bees in places that require it?

You need to contact your local county office to register your bees. Make sure you have the right information and equipment, including:

  • A written statement that you own all the bees in your hive.
  • A copy of any laws or regulations that apply to beekeeping in your state or province.
  • A list of nearby beekeeping associations (if there is one).

If you aren’t sure if it’s necessary for you to register, ask! You can also contact a professional beekeeper for help—they may be able to point out anything else that might be required by law before selling honey from your backyard hives.

How do I know if I’m required to register for beekeeping?

The first step in determining whether or not you need a license is to check the local laws. Many cities and states have their own regulations regarding beekeeping, so it’s important that you review these if you live in an area where bees are common.

After checking out your local laws and ordinances, it’s time to turn your attention to an organization that might be able to help: your local beekeeping association. These groups usually offer classes for new beekeepers as well as assistance with registration forms, so it’s definitely worth getting in touch with one close by if you’re interested in starting up a hive (or hives).

Finally, don’t forget about contacting your city hall or county office! If there are any existing licenses issued for beekeepers within the county where you live (or plan on living), these may give some insight into how many permits have been granted and whether or not they’ve been given recently.


While it is not always required to have a license to keep bees, we encourage you to contact local authorities or organizations to get the latest updates on regulations. That way, you will be able to be in the know and aware of the certain stipulations designated in the area that you live in when it comes to keeping bees!