Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
6/21/2024

Chapter 319. Best Management Practices for the Operation of Apiaries in Order to Limit Operator Liability

2VAC5-319-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Apiary" means any place where one or more colonies of bees are kept.

"Apiary operator" means a person who operates an apiary and seeks to limit his liability for any personal injury or property damage that occurs in connection with his keeping and maintaining of bees, bee equipment, queen breeding equipment, apiaries, or appliances as provided for in § 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia.

"Bee" means the honey bee, Apis mellifera and genetic variations thereof, at any living stage and may include other hymenopterous insects that depend on pollen and nectar for food.

"Bee equipment" means hives; hive parts, including frames, supers, covers, and bottom boards; and beekeeping apparel.

"Colony" means a queenright assemblage of social bees capable of reproducing.

"Comb" means a mass of six-sided cells used by honey bees in which brood is reared and honey and pollen are stored.

"Disease" means departure from a sound state of health of bees characterized by visible symptoms including American foulbrood and any other diseases, insects, mites, or bee pests.

"Division" means to separate a bee colony into two or more hives.

"EHB" mean European honey bees.

"Foundation" means a template, base, or midrib used for the production of straight, movable comb in a frame.

"Frame" means a wooden or plastic form, usually consisting of four sides, designed to hold comb spaced between 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch apart and to allow for removal of the frame without damage to the comb.

"Hive" means a box, skep, barrel, log gum, or other container used as a domicile for bees.

"Split" means a division of a bee colony for the purposes of increasing the number of hives.

"Swarm" or "swarming" means a form of propagation of bees in which all or a portion of a colony, usually containing at least one queen, departs from its original hive to establish a new colony.

Statutory Authority

§ 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 33, Issue 2, eff. August 31, 2016.

2VAC5-319-20. Limitation of liability.

A. An apiary operator operating in conformance with § 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia and this chapter shall not be liable for any personal injury or property damage that occurs in connection with his keeping and maintaining of bees, bee equipment, queen breeding equipment, apiaries, or appliances. This limitation of liability does not apply to intentional tortious conduct or acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or negligence.

B. A person is not required to comply with the provisions of this chapter unless he seeks to limit his liability as provided for in § 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§ 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 33, Issue 2, eff. August 31, 2016.

2VAC5-319-25. Best management practices.

An apiary operator shall comply with local, state, and federal ordinances, regulations, and laws pertaining to beekeeping. This section shall apply to an apiary operator keeping any honey bee, Apis mellifera and genetic variations thereof, at any living stage, or other hymenopterous insect that depends on pollen and nectar for food.

Statutory Authority

§ 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 33, Issue 2, eff. August 31, 2016.

2VAC5-319-30. Best management practices for the keeping of honey bees.

A. For the purpose of this section, "bee" means the honey bee, Apis mellifera and genetic variations thereof, at any living stage, and does not mean other hymenopterous insects that depend on pollen and nectar for food.

B. An apiary operator shall maintain a healthy populous colony of bees by:

1. Removing or securely sealing any empty bee equipment in an apiary. For the purpose of this subdivision, "empty" means without bees but containing comb or other materials attractive to bees and does not include equipment in use as a bait hive for capturing a swarm;

2. Removing all colonies in a state of decline, combining such colonies with other colonies, or taking other action to establish a healthy populous condition in such colonies;

3. Repairing or replacing damaged or defective hive boxes, frames, and other bee equipment;

4. Replacing frames containing old comb with new or cleaned frames containing foundation such that all comb in a hive is replaced every five to seven years;

5. Feeding or maintaining an adequate amount of honey and pollen in a hive for brood production during the growing season;

6. Preventing disturbance or injury to bee colony or hive by vertebrate pests; and

7. Managing the colony to address any disease or pest infestation or remove all disease or pest-infested hives that may be detrimental to the health of other colonies in the vicinity of the apiary. An apiary operator shall inspect hives for disease at least once every three months.

C. For the purposes of this subsection, (i) "full hive" means a hive consisting of a minimum of two eight-frame deep hive boxes for a Langstroth-style hive, or a hive of equivalent capacity, that has movable frames with combs, and (ii) "nucleus hive" means a hive with less capacity than a full hive. A full hive should enter the winter with a minimum of 60 pounds of honey and the equivalent of four frames of pollen stores. A nucleus hive should enter the winter with a minimum of 30 pounds of honey and the equivalent of two frames of pollen stores.

D. An apiary operator shall practice proper management and control techniques to reduce the likelihood of swarming.

E. An apiary operator shall maintain all colonies at least 10 feet away from property lines to prevent an individual from impeding normal bee flight activity from a hive. An apiary operator shall place all colonies that are less than 40 feet from a property line behind a barrier that is no less than six feet in height and is located between the colony and the property line or elevate the hive entrance no less than six feet above the property line. Barriers should be of sufficient density, length, and height to establish bee flyways six feet or higher above ground level.

F. When an apiary is located in an area in which the apiary operator should reasonably expect that the bees may rely on a nearby unnatural source of water, the apiary operator shall maintain a water source within 50 feet of a colony or less than one-half the distance to the nearest unnatural source of water, whichever is closest. An unnatural source of water includes a swimming pool, bird bath, and pet or livestock watering receptacle.

G. An apiary operator shall avoid opening or disturbing a colony when the apiary operator has knowledge that another person is participating in outside non-beekeeping activities or using machinery within 150 feet of the apiary.

H. An apiary operator shall only maintain a colony with EHB or EHB hybrid stock and shall:

1. Purchase queens, packaged bees, nucleus colonies, or established hives from suppliers providing EHB stock, or obtain a queen and bees from a local supplier or raise queens from stock owned by the apiary operator, provided the origin and EHB status of the mother queen is known;

2. Not obtain queens or bees from suppliers within 100 miles from known Africanized honey bee populations;

3. Introduce queens from healthy stock when making divisions or splits of established colonies;

4. Replace queens in all captured or trapped swarms within 45 days of capturing or trapping swarms;

5. Replace queens in all colonies every two years to minimize swarming behavior; and

6. Mark the thorax or clip a wing of the queens in a manner that allows the age of the queens to be determined prior to their introduction to splits, swarms, or colonies.

I. An apiary operator shall limit the number of colonies that he places in his apiary as follows:

1. If the property on which the apiary is located is 1/4 acre or smaller, the apiary shall not have more than two colonies. The apiary operator may increase the number of colonies up to four colonies for not more than 60 consecutive days for the purpose of queen mating and swarm control.

2. If the property on which the apiary is located is more than 1/4 acre, but less than 1/2 acre, the apiary shall not have more than four colonies. The apiary operator may increase the number of colonies up to eight colonies for not more than 60 consecutive days for the purpose of queen mating and swarm control.

3. If the property on which the apiary is located is 1/2 acre or more, but less than one acre, the apiary shall not have more than six colonies. The apiary operator may increase the number of colonies up to 12 colonies for not more than 60 consecutive days for the purpose of queen mating and swarm control.

4. If the property on which the apiary is located is one acre or more, the apiary shall not have more than six colonies per acre. The apiary operator may increase the number of colonies up to 12 colonies per acre for not more than 60 consecutive days for the purpose of queen mating and swarm control.

5. If all colonies are placed at least 200 feet from all property lines, there is no limit on the number of colonies that an apiary operator may place in his apiary.

Statutory Authority

§ 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 33, Issue 2, eff. August 31, 2016.

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