CGA Law News & Blog

Sting Operations: Navigating Beekeeping Laws in Pennsylvania

access_time Posted on: June 27th, 2024

All throughout Pennsylvania, an increasingly common sight is emerging: backyard beekeepers tending to personal hives and enjoying fresh honey. As interest in sustainable living, organic foods, and environmental stewardship grows, so too does the fascination with beekeeping. This ancient practice is experiencing a modern resurgence across the Keystone State, where enthusiasts are not only drawn to the sweet rewards of honey but also to the critical role bees play in pollinating crops and preserving biodiversity.

However, behind the scenes of this burgeoning hobby lies a complex regulatory framework designed to ensure the health and safety of both bees and communities. Understanding and navigating Pennsylvania’s beekeeping laws is becoming essential for newcomers and seasoned apiarists alike. These laws not only shape how beekeepers manage their hives but also underscore the Commonwealth’s commitment to balancing agricultural practices with environmental protection, ensuring harmony between apiarists, communities, and the environment they both depend upon.

The law which governs beekeeping in Pennsylvania is known as the, “Bee Law.” This statute regulates the vast majority of issues related to beekeeping in the Commonwealth, including apiaries, which are specifically defines as, “Any place where one or more colonies or nuclei of bees are kept.” This includes queen apiaries, which have at least one queen-bee.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, through its Bureau of Plant Industry, regulates bee-keeping.  The Bee Law requires apiaries to be registered. The registration application includes several elements, including: (1) the name and complete mailing address of the owner and the person primarily responsible for maintaining and caring for the apiary, if different from the owner, (2) the exact location(s) of each apiary, (3) the number of colonies contained in the apiary, and (4) any other information that the department may require. Part of the application also includes a fee that must be paid.

Part of registering an apiary in Pennsylvania is submitting it for inspection. The department inspects all registered queen apiaries twice each summer to ensure that no disease exists within the apiary. The law also states that only certain types of hives may be kept, specifically, hives must be a, “modern movable frame hive which permits thorough examination of every comb to determine the presence of bee disease.” All apiary inspectors are given free access to all apiaries in the Commonwealth and cannot be denied the right to view and inspect any apiary, premises, building, or other place, public or private, in which bees, queen bees, wax, honey, hives or appliances may be kept or stored.

If you or someone you know is buzzing about taking up beekeeping and reaping the benefits of fresh honey, or if you’re already an apiarist, make sure the hive is in compliance with the Bee Law. The Bureau of Plant Industry has a plethora of great resources and information on its website at Apiary & Pollinator Services (pa.gov). Please note that violations of the Bee Law can be steep, punishable by fine of up to $1,000 and/or an injunction against the individual to prevent them from continuing to violate the law, which could mean losing the hives and bees.

If you have questions with regard to the “Bee Law”, real estate, or land use, please contact a member of the CGA Law Municipal Group by filling out our Contact Us Form or by calling 717-848-4900.. We understand the significance of property ownership and are here to help you with all aspects of it.

CGA Law Firm Attorney Jeff Rehmeyer II

Jeffrey L. Rehmeyer II

Shareholder | Attorney

Jeffrey Rehmeyer II was CGA Law Firm’s President for many years. He is fueled by a belief that planning today creates protection for businesses and families tomorrow. Jeff forms relationships with his clients, which include large and small businesses, municipalities, families and individuals. His work begins by developing an understanding of their situation, actual or anticipated challenges, and goals. Jeff sees the client first, not the case. Over the course of his legal career, Jeff has led many clients through different legal needs, from business to family to estate and individual, which gives his clients a remarkable advantage through a multi-faceted approach to the law and legal issues.

Read Jeff’s Bio Page in full HERE.

Noah C. Yeagley

Summer Associate

Noah joins CGA’s Summer Associate program as a third-year law student at Penn State Dickinson. This summer, he has gained experience in various areas, such as estate planning, corporate law, municipal law, tax, and more. He aspires to practice corporate law, tax, estate planning, intellectual property, and litigation.

Learn more about our Summer Associate program here.