Is it illegal to kill bees?

There has been an increased awareness of the importance of bees in the ecosystem and their significance in ensuring that our plants and flowers are pollinated adequately for free. Unfortunately, news and articles have also pointed out that bees have been endangered because of climate change and loss of habitat in recent years [1].

So it is only natural to assume that the state legislators and the government have taken steps to make killing bees illegal. But is it illegal to kill bees?

There is no federal law explicitly stating that it is illegal to kill bees. However, several states have already started ways to protect bees by implementing rules and regulations that indirectly defend them, like protecting their habitats, operating bee breeding programs, and banning certain chemicals toxic to bees in pesticides [2].

Now, let us learn more about the legality of killing bees, whether legal or illegal.

Is it illegal to kill bees?

beekeeper smoking out beehive

Bees are essential in our daily lives. However, there are still times when they become annoying and even dangerous, particularly when they start stinging. Some people will resort to killing and exterminating the bees by themselves or hiring a professional during this time.

So, when you kill a bee, whether accidentally or deliberately, you may think about whether it is legal or not. However, if we think about it, when a honey bee stings us, whether we like it or not, the bee dies because its stings become attached to our skin.

In addition, no law has passed in the United States saying that it is illegal to kill bees and will penalize you for doing so. However, the US Congress passed a law called the Pollinators Protection Act in 2008 that aims to protect honey bee welfare by preserving their habitats and banning certain toxic chemicals for bees in pesticides [3].

Other laws, like Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2021, aim to address the use of specific harmful pesticides to bees, the health and status of native US bees, and other non-bee pollinators. Still, these laws only discussed the protection of the bees but never stated the legality of killing a bee [4]

Also, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has actively implemented laws protecting bees and other pollinators from deadly chemicals that are carelessly used and detrimental to bees [5].

Also read: Will an empty beehive attract bees? and Do bees fly at night?

What pesticide chemicals are banned because of their danger to bees?

beekeeper harvesting honey

The chemicals highly dangerous to bees and banned are collectively called neonicotinoids or neonics [6], which include acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam, previously common chemicals in commercial insecticides used on various crops in the US and around the world.

These chemicals are systemic pesticides that a plant can absorb and transport to its other parts, including the flowers, which contain pollen and nectar – which are the food of the bee. When taken in by a bee, the chemical affects its nervous system, leading to death.

Different chemicals used in pesticides are banned concerning the danger they pose to the bees. Though the extent and the type of chemicals differ from country to country. 

For instance, the European Commission banned three common insecticide chemicals, namely clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid, in plant protection products and treated seeds to protect the bees [7].

On the other hand, though the adverse effect of the said chemicals on bees are already published, the United States EPA has approved the continued use of four toxic chemicals on bees for another 15 years, in contrast to what the European Union did.

To learn more about bees, you should take a look at Will wasp spray kill bees? and Can you eat bees?

Example of US State Legislations Protecting Bees

Though there are no federal laws currently protecting the welfare of the bees and ensuring their survival, several states have already legislated policies to protect the bees.

1. An Act Concerning Pollinator Health (SB 231 – 2016, Connecticut) [8] 

This state legislation aims for the Commissioner of Agriculture and other related agencies to develop best practices to minimize the airborne application of dangerous neonicotinoid pesticides to pollinators.

2. Neonicotinoid Pesticides – Restrictions on Sales and Use (Pollinator Protection Act of 2016) (SB 198/HB 211 – 2016, Maryland) [9]

This legislation prohibits anyone from selling neonicotinoid pesticides.

3. Environment and natural resources trust fund appropriation and receipt of fund money requirements modification (SB 550 – 2017, Minnesota) [10]

This Minnesota legislation appropriated funding for pollinator research and outreach and the establishment of pollinators’ habitats.

To expand your knowledge of bees, you should also read How are bees getting in my house? and Can bees sting through plastic?


Bees are essential to our ecosystem because they help pollinate about 80 percent of flowering plants. However, their population has steadily declined recently, prompting the government to legislate laws to protect them.

Though no federal laws state that it is illegal to kill bees, especially if they die naturally when they sting, like in the case of honeybees. However, it became the individual states’ responsibility to legislate laws that would protect the pollinators.

One of the most common ways they did this was to ban toxic pesticides on bees and protect their habitats.


[1] – Main, D. (2021, May 4). Bumblebees are going extinct in a time of ‘Climate chaos’. Animals. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from

[2] – Robinson, A. (2020, May 18). What is regulation and deregulation? Legal Beagle. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from

[3] – H.R.1709 – Pollinator Protection Act 110th Congress (2007-2008). (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2022, from 

[4] – H.R.4079 – Saving America’s pollinators act of 2021 117th … – congress. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2022, from

[5] – Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). EPA Actions to Protect Pollinators. EPA. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from

[6] – Neonicotinoid. (2022, September 29). In Wikipedia.

[7] – Neonicotinoids. Food Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2022, from

[8] – AN ACT CONCERNING POLLINATOR HEALTH. An act concerning pollinator health. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2022, from

[9] – Neonicotinoid Pesticides – Restrictions on Sales and Use (Pollinator Protection Act of 2016). Legislation – SB0198. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2022, from\

[10] – Environment and natural resources trust fund appropriation and receipt of fund money requirements modification. SF 550 Status in the Senate for the 90th Legislature (2017 – 2018). (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2022, from