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Building Beehives: Checking Regional Laws and Requirements

Before you build a terrific new beehive, you need to know where you’re going to put it. You should become acquainted with legal, neighborly, and venue considerations before you do this.

Is it legal to keep bees? In most places, the answer is yes. But some areas have laws or ordinances restricting or even prohibiting beekeeping. For the most part, such restrictions are limited to highly populated, urban areas.

But even that is changing. In 2010, New York City lifted a long-standing ban on beekeeping. Now beehives are popping up all over the city! The chef at New York’s Waldorf Astoria even keeps a few hives on the roof of the hotel.

Some communities may limit the number of hives you can keep, and some require you to register your bees with town/city hall. To find out the legality of keeping bees in your area, contact your town/city hall, state bee inspector, state agricultural experiment station, or a local bee club; a quick online search should yield the contact information you need.

Bee Culture magazine maintains a terrific online listing of regional clubs in the United States and Canada. Visit Bee Culture and follow the link to “Find a Beekeeper Near You.” These clubs and associations can be very helpful in identifying whatever local laws and legislations apply in your region.

If you live in an apartment, speak to your landlord about roof rights. See whether you can get access to your building’s rooftop and obtain permission to place a hive or two on the roof. Rooftop hives are wonderful because they’re out of sight to most people, which reduces neighborhood fear and lessens the chance of vandalism.

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