Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 3.2. Agriculture, Animal Care, and Food
Subtitle III. Production and Sale of Agricultural Products
Chapter 44. Beekeeping

Chapter 44. Beekeeping.

§ 3.2-4400. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

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

"Appliance" means any apparatus, tool, machine, or other device used in the handling and manipulating of bees, honey, wax, hives, and hive parts and shall include containers used in transporting, processing, storing, or merchandising bees and bee products.

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

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

"Brood comb" means the assemblage of cells containing any living stage of bees at any time prior to their emergence as adults.

"Certificate of health" means a state-of-origin document prepared and signed by the State Apiarist or other authorized person declaring the bees, bee equipment, appliances, apiaries, and honey houses to be free of bee diseases.

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

"Combless package" means a shipping container for transporting bees or queens.

"Entry permit" means a state-of-destination document prepared by the State Apiarist or other authorized person authorizing the entry of bee equipment, appliances, and bees on combs into the Commonwealth.

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

"Honey house" means any building where honey for commercial use is extracted, graded, processed, packed, or stored.

"Person" means the term as defined in § 1-230. The term also means any society.

Code 1950, § 3-483; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-588; 1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.1; 1982, c. 100; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4401. Powers and duties of the Board.

The Board may adopt regulations to:

1. Suppress bee diseases by regulating the movement of bees and controlling or destroying disease reservoirs;

2. Require apiary identification;

3. Adopt colony strength standards for pollination services;

4. Promote the sale and distribution of bees and their products; and

5. Effectively administer and enforce this chapter.

1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.9; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4402. State Apiarist.

The Commissioner may appoint a State Apiarist with adequate experience and training in practical beekeeping. The State Apiarist shall promote the science of beekeeping by education and other means; inspect apiaries, beehives, and beekeeping equipment within the Commonwealth for bee disease; and perform other duties that may be required by regulation or law, including the inspection of honey houses for sanitation.

Code 1950, §§ 3-484, 3-485; 1966, c. 702, §§ 3.1-589, 3.1-590; 1972, c. 499, §§ 3.1-610.2, 3.1-610.3; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4403. Duties of beekeepers.

Beekeepers shall:

1. Provide movable frames with combs or foundation in all hives used by them to contain bees, except for short periods, not to exceed the first spring honey flow, and to cause the bees in such hives to construct brood combs in such frames so that any of the frames may be removed from the hive without injuring other combs in such hive; and

2. Securely and tightly close the entrance of any hive in apiaries not free from disease and make the hive tight so that robber bees cannot enter, leave, or obtain honey from the hives as long as the hives remain in a location accessible by honeybees.

Code 1950, § 3-497; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-602; 1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.10; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4404. Duty to notify the State Apiarist of diseased bees.

Any person in the Commonwealth who is aware of diseased bees in his or other apiaries shall immediately notify the State Apiarist, giving the exact location of the diseased bees and other information as requested.

Code 1950, § 3-498; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-603; 1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.8; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4405. Entry permit required to bring bees and used bee equipment into Commonwealth; inspection.

A. No person shall bring any bees on combs, empty used combs, used hives, or other used apiary appliances into the Commonwealth without first receiving an entry permit to do so from the State Apiarist. Entry permits shall be issued only upon receipt of satisfactory proof that the bees and other items are free from bee diseases. Specifically identifiable colonies must be brought into the Commonwealth within 60 days from the issuance of the entry permit.

B. Bees brought into the Commonwealth shall be subject to inspection at any time.

Code 1950, § 3-501; 1950, p. 227; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-606; 1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.15; 1982, c. 100; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4406. Certificate of health to accompany bees in combless packages brought into Commonwealth.

All bees in combless packages transported into the Commonwealth shall be accompanied by a certificate of health issued by the proper official of the place of origin.

Code 1950, § 3-500; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-605; 1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.14; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4407. Certificate of health to accompany bill of sale.

No bees on combs, hives, used beekeeping equipment with combs, or appliances may be offered for sale without a certificate of health prepared by the State Apiarist for each specifically identifiable item. The certificate of health must accompany each bill of sale.

Code 1950, § 3-502; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-607; 1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.17; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4408. Rearing package bees and queens for sale.

A. No person shall rear package bees or queens for sale without first applying to the State Apiarist for inspection at least once during each summer season.

B. Upon the discovery of any bee diseases, the rearer or seller shall at once cease to ship bees from affected apiaries until the State Apiarist issues a certificate of health for such apiaries.

C. No person engaged in rearing queen bees for sale shall use honey in the making of bee food for use in mailing cages.

Code 1950, § 3-496; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-601; 1972, c. 499, §§ 3.1-610.12, 3.1-610.13; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4409. Right of entry for inspection and enforcement.

The Commissioner may enter any private or public premises during business hours, except private dwellings. The Commissioner shall have access to all apiaries and other places where bees, combs, beekeeping equipment, and appliances may be kept.

Code 1950, § 3-488; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-593; 1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.7; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4410. Measures to eradicate and control bee diseases; appeal.

A. The State Apiarist shall examine or inspect the bees in the Commonwealth whenever they are suspected of being infected with bee diseases and, on request, shall inspect bees to be sold or to be transported interstate.

B. If bees are found to be infected with bee diseases, the State Apiarist shall take suitable measures to eradicate or control such diseases.

C. If the owner of such diseased bees fails to take such steps as may be prescribed by the State Apiarist to eradicate or control the disease, the State Apiarist shall destroy or treat the bees, hives, and honey.

D. The State Apiarist may prohibit the removal of bees, honey, wax, combs, hives, or other used beekeeping equipment from any place where bees are known to be infected with bee diseases, until he issues a certificate of health for such place.

E. Within 10 days from the receipt of an order from the State Apiarist to destroy or treat his diseased bees, hives, honey, or appliances, any owner of diseased bees may file a written appeal with the Commissioner. Upon timely receipt of a written appeal under this section, the Commissioner shall act upon the appeal in accordance with the provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.).

Code 1950, §§ 3-487, 3-490, 3-491, 3-493; 1966, c. 702, §§ 3.1-592, 3.1-595, 3.1-596, 3.1-598; 1972, c. 499, §§ 3.1-610.5, 3.1-610.6, 3.1-610.11; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4411. Abandoned apiaries.

The State Apiarist may deem an apiary to be abandoned if: (i) the bees and hives show evidence of a period of neglect exceeding one year; and (ii) the owner of the apiary has not been identified through a reasonable search of available records. If the State Apiarist deems an apiary to be abandoned, he shall certify his findings in a declaration of abandonment to the treasurer of the locality where the apiary is located. The treasurer shall give notice of such certification to the last known owner of the apiary and the owner of the land upon which the apiary is located by personal service, by posting at last known residence, or by publication. If after 60 days, the owner or landowner has not laid claim to the apiary, the treasurer may hold a sheriff's sale, issue a treasurer's deed to the successful bidder, and deposit any proceeds into the general fund of the locality. If disposition is not made within 90 days of the date of the declaration of abandonment, the State Apiarist may take possession of the apiary and destroy the related bees, hives, and equipment.

1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.18; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4411.1. Apiaries; limitation on liability.

A. Any person owning or operating an apiary that is not located on his own property shall post the name and address of the owner or operator in a conspicuous place in the apiary.

B. A person who operates an apiary in a reasonable manner, in compliance with local zoning restrictions, and in conformance with the written best management practices as provided by regulation of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services 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. The limitation of liability established by this section does not apply to intentional tortious conduct or acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or negligence.

C. The limitation of liability in this section shall not take effect until regulations are adopted by the Board. The Board may adopt initial regulations under this section to implement the provisions of this section to be effective no later than November 1, 2016. Such initial regulations shall be exempt from the requirements of Article 2 (§ 2.2-4006 et seq.) of the Administrative Process Act; however, the Board shall publish proposed regulations in the Virginia Register of Regulations and allow at least 30 days for public comment, to include an online public comment forum on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall, after publication. Any amendments to such initial regulations or any subsequent regulations adopted pursuant to this section shall comply with the requirements of Article 2 of the Administrative Process Act. Any regulations adopted shall include best management practices for the operation of apiaries.

2016, c. 564.

§ 3.2-4412. Reserved.


§ 3.2-4413. Costs of administering chapter.

Normal costs of administering this law shall be borne by the Commonwealth. Costs for services, products, or articles beyond the scope of the law are reimbursable and payable to the Treasurer of Virginia by the persons affected. The Commissioner shall promptly credit reimbursements to the fund from which originally expended.

1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.20; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4414. Violation of chapter.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter or any order or regulation issued hereunder, or interfering in any way with the Commissioner in the discharge of his duties is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 3-505; 1966, c. 702, § 3.1-610; 1972, c. 499, § 3.1-610.21; 2008, c. 860.

§ 3.2-4415. Beehive Grant Fund.

From such funds as may be appropriated by the General Assembly and any gifts, grants, or donations from public or private sources, there is hereby created in the state treasury a special nonreverting, permanent fund to be known as the Beehive Grant Fund (the Fund), to be administered by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller. Interest earned on moneys in the Fund shall remain in the Fund and be credited to it. Any moneys remaining in the Fund at the end of each fiscal year, including interest thereon, shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the Fund. Expenditures and disbursements from the Fund, which shall be in the form of grants, shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants issued by the Comptroller upon the written request signed by the Commissioner. Grants from the Fund shall only be made for the purposes of the beehive distribution program pursuant to § 3.2-4416.

2012, cc. 412, 473.

§ 3.2-4416. Beehive distribution program.

Any individual registered with the Department as a beekeeper may apply to the Department for no more than three basic beehive units per year per household. The Department shall establish guidelines setting forth the components of a basic beehive unit and the general requirements for qualifying for such unit. The Department shall accept applications for beehive units during an application period of not less than 15 days. The Department shall select individuals receiving beehive units at random from the completed eligible applications received during the application period. In the event that funds are not available in the Beehive Grant Fund established pursuant to § 3.2-4415 (the Fund), the Department shall notify individuals who submitted applications but were not selected to receive beehive units that the funds available for that fiscal year have been exhausted. The Department shall not be required to carry forward pending applications to the next fiscal year in which funds are available in the Fund.

The Department may use funds from the Fund to pay for the costs of purchasing, building, or distributing the beehive units and for the costs of administering the beehive distribution program. The Department may work cooperatively with the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station Division, established pursuant to Article 2 (§ 23.1-2608 et seq.) of Chapter 26 of Title 23.1, to carry out the provisions of this section.

2012, cc. 412, 473; 2018, c. 192; 2020, c. 407.