If you're interested in beekeeping, then you may want to have easy access to your bees by keeping them close to your home. However, if you live in a residential area, there may be some complications on this front. Aside from the difficulties in successfully keeping bees in these areas, you may also run into legal problems as well.
Even if you've done your research and feel ready to rise to the challenges of residential beekeeping, that knowledge won't do you much good if the law prohibits keeping bees where you live. While there isn't a blanket answer across the country to this question, you can quickly learn whether or not your residential area allows you to keep bees.
Contact Your City Officials
A straightforward way to learn if it's legal to keep bees in your residential area is to contact your city's officials. Do not call 911, but instead look up your area's non-emergency services department. Someone may be able to answer your question, direct you to someone else who can, or even tell you the proper location to look up the laws for yourself.
If your City Clerk or other official gives you a resource, don't forget to copy down the information. Taking these notes can save you the trouble of trying to remember what they said later on.
Search for Online Databases
In the digital age, you can find most laws and ordinances published online. Search for your city's specific beekeeping ordinances online. You may see your city's website or even another online archive of statutes. While most of these resources are up to date, confirm that you're accessing the latest versions of your ordinances in case laws have recently changed, especially when using third party resources.
Once you have the relevant laws, search them for references to bees and beekeeping. Thankfully, digital searches often make finding the applicable laws simple by letting you target specific keywords. Pay attention to whatever wording used to determine if your residential area:
- Expressly states its stance on beekeeping
- Lists bees as prohibited
- Prohibits beekeeping in residential areas with certain exceptions
- Doesn't have any laws related to bees or beekeeping
- Has regulations for acceptable beekeeping
No matter what your city's ordinances say about bees, you'll want to follow the rules as outlined. And if you live in an area that allows residential beekeeping, make sure you've taken the appropriate steps to care for your bees properly.