Keeping Bees in Florida

A common question comes our way every month.  This question is “how many hives can I have on my property”. Your first stop should be to check your sub-division covenants and your local municipality laws for any rules regarding honey bee hives.  Yes, some municipalities have laws to govern bee hives.  It is highly important…



A common question comes our way every month.  This question is “how many hives can I have on my property”.

Your first stop should be to check your sub-division covenants and your local municipality laws for any rules regarding honey bee hives.  Yes, some municipalities have laws to govern bee hives.  It is highly important to research this first.  We hear from dozens of potential beekeepers, each season, that purchase all the beekeeping supplies and honey bees and find out they cannot have bee hives on their property.

Generally speaking, most backyard beekeepers have 1 to 2 acres of land with 2 or 3 bee hives.  I have personally had 10 hives on a 1 acre lot in a subdivision.  One important thing to do is talk with your neighbors first.  I did speak with all of my neighbors to get their verbal approval to have these hives placed in my backyard.

If you or a neighbor has a swimming pool, you can still have bee hives but it is going to take work in keeping good relations with your neighbor.  Most pools use either chlorine or salt water to keep their pools healthy.  Unfortunately, honey bees love chlorine and salt water.  The honey bees will gravitate to the pool to drink the water.

So how do you keep your bees from going to the neighbor’s pool?  What I did was just ask my neighbor to text me the day before letting me know they plan on using their pool the next day.  That evening or early the next morning, I would go out and slide the entry gate over the entry way, to trap the bees in the hive during the next day when my neighbor was having a pool party.

Another way is to use a hive net and cinch it around the hive.  This will allow the colony to go out of the hive but contained on those hot days in August.

The common denominator is you will have to go out when it is dark and contain the bees.  You may even have to use your smoker in chasing the bees that are camped outside of the hives to go back into the hive.  If you wait til day light, the foraging bees will already be out doing their duty in collecting nectar.

When the pool party is over, I just went out and pulled the gate and allowed the bees to forage.  I was able to keep my neighbor across the street happy and she was a big advocate of me raising bees.

It should be noted that containing bees within the hive for many days during the nectar flow will reduce the nectar that is collected.  The end result will be lower honey production.

On a 5 acre lot I have about 75 hives.  If you go greater than 75 hives you will see the honey bees competing for the same nectar source and will reduce your honey yields per hive.   This is a lot of bees and I highly recommend placing this apiary in the countryside where no homes are within .5 miles.

Always remember to talk with your neighbors because they can be an advocate or a real pain in your side.  You will be amazed at how welcoming your neighbors will be because their backyard garden will get pollinated.

FAQs

Do you need a permit to keep bees in Florida?

Each beekeeper having honey bee colonies in Florida is required by law to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).

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How many beehives can you put on 1 acre of land?

So one-half acre could have up to six hives, three-quarters acre could have up to nine hives, and a one acre lot could have up to twelve hives. Additionally, keeping one nuc for every two hives is also acceptable.

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How many bee hives can you have on 5 acres?

In most counties, the minimum number of hives to qualify is six (6) for the first 5 acres, with additional hives per additional qualifying acre (up to 20) – at which stage the Texas Apiary Inspection Service requires registration of the apiary (bee yard).

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How many bee hives are in Florida?

Statewide, there are 5,000 registered beekeepers managing 500,000 hives, according to state records

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How much land is required for beekeeping?

Each hive takes up about 2.5 square feet and should have a radius of space around it of at least five feet. Most beekeepers have between one and four hives.

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How many acres do you need for bees?

On average, the consensus on land size is that you can successfully keep bees on 1 to 2-acre land.

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Is beekeeping a tax write off?

The IRS will presume it is a business if you earn a profit any three out of five years. But, if you keep incurring losses, the IRS might claim the activity is a hobby. In this event, you’ll only be able to deduct your beekeeping expenses from your beekeeping income, if any.

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Is beekeeping considered farming by the IRS?

Beekeeping is considered farming by the Internal Revenue Service. IRS Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide (2019), states that a ?farm includes livestock? among other things, including structures ?used primarily for raising agricultural? commodities.?

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How profitable is bee farming?

Healthy bees in a region with ample nectar sources can produce a profit of $300-$500 per hive each year. But, this assumes you are selling your honey in a market that is willing to pay the price for premium raw honey. Even small scale backyard beekeepers can make a profit from the honey produced from a few hives.

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How do you raise bees in Florida?

Florida has a mandatory registration law, thus each beekeeper having honey bee colonies within the state must register with the Department. Registered beekeepers will be issued a unique firm number; this number must be permanently marked on each of their hive bodies for identification purposes.

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Can I have a beehive in Florida?

Beekeepers can have hives in nonagricultural lands, excluding HOA or any property deemed as public. Once the hives are registered, the state will send an apiary inspector to inspect your bee colonies for diseases and will check the water supply the beekeeper has set up.

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Why are bees dying in Florida?

But the threats to honeybees have continued to increase, with pesticides and mites and things we still don’t understand killing a quarter to half of the 600,000 hives in Florida each year. Almonds are among the reasons bees in Florida have begun to die off in such big numbers.

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Can you have bee hives in your backyard Florida?

Legal Requirements

Unless your homeowners’ association restricts it, anyone in the state of Florida may have up to three hives on a typical urban-sized lot (the number of allowable hives goes up as the size of the lot increases).

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Are bees year round in Florida?

The warm temperatures keep the bees active all year long, and there will be nectar flow somewhere in the state at any given point.

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Do bees hibernate in winter in Florida?

Do Bees Hibernate Or Die Off In Florida? Wild bees go dormant and hibernate in the wintertime. They form clusters and remain inactive during the period. In some cases, the queen survives but the drone and worker bees die off.

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Is Florida good for beekeeping?

Unfortunately for beekeepers, the very conditions that make Florida a great place to keep bees also make it a great place for bee pests and diseases to do well. The warm climate allows colonies to maintain brood throughout much of the year.

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How often can you harvest honey in Florida?

When you treat your bees cannot overlap during the honey flow. Most beekeepers can harvest at least 2-3 times a season between the months of mid June and mid September. In some rare cases, due to local climate, beekeepers can only harvest once per season usually late summer or early fall.

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Beekeeper Registration / Bees/Apiary / Agriculture Industry …

Beekeeper Registration / Bees/Apiary / Agriculture Industry / HomeEach beekeeper having honey bee colonies in Florida is required by law to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).FDACS registers and inspects honey bee colonies to certify them as:Free or substantially free from honey bee pests of regulatory significance andFree from unwanted types of honey bees.How to RegisterStep 1: Schedule an InspectionHoney bees must be inspected by an authorized FDACS representative not more than 12 months preceding the date of application for registration. To schedule an inspection, contact your local apiary inspector.Step 2: Complete and Submit an Application for RegistrationFollowing your inspection, download and complete an Application for Beekeeping Registration[ ].Submit your completed application and registration fee:Online orBy mail to: FDACS, P.O. Box 6720, Tallahassee, FL 32314-6720.Certificate of RegistrationOnce your application is received, a registration number will be assigned and you should receive your Certificate of Registration within a few weeks. Certificates are processed every Friday.RenewalsCertificates must be renewed annually on or prior to the anniversary date of the certificate. To renew your registration, complete an Application for Beekeeping Registration[ ].Submit your completed application and renewal fee:Online orBy mail to: FDACS, P.O. Box 6720, Tallahassee, FL 32314-6720.Registration and Renewal FeesEach application for registration or renewal of registration must be accompanied by the proper registration fee based on the total number of colonies operated by the registrant.1-5 colonies: $106-40 colonies: $2041-200 colonies: $40201-500 colonies: $70501 or more colonies: $100Late FeeThe penalty fee for late payments is $10. The Certificate of Registration must be renewed before the expiration date.Identification of Honey Bee HivesAll honey bee hives must be permanently imprinted with the beekeeper’s registration number issued by FDACS. The registration number must be written on the upper left-hand corner of the hive in letters at least ½ inch in height.Beekeepers with honey bee hives branded before Nov. 22, 1988, with a numerical or alphabetical code are not be required to rebrand with the registration number, provided the existing brand is registered with FDACS. This number may be applied with paint, permanent ink marker or any other legible, permanent marking method.Abandoned ApiariesAny apiary found without proper identification or registration information shall be considered abandoned. Following a reasonable effort to contact the owner, FDACS will dispose of such equipment following guidelines detailed in Rule 5B-54, Florida Administrative Code.Apiary InspectionEach apiary shall be inspected by FDACS at such intervals as the agency deems best for the detection of honey bee pests and unwanted types of honey bees.Each apiary site must be maintained in such a manner as to allow reasonable access for inspection.Fees for special inspection services may vary depending on the service requested. For further information, contact your local apiary inspector.Residential BeekeepersAll apiaries maintained on properties not classified as agricultural must follow best management requirements for maintaining European honey bee colonies on non-agricultural lands, as described in the Beekeeper Compliance Agreement[ ]. All hives must have movable frames.Certificate of InspectionA certificate is required:On each sale or movement of honey bees within the state unless the hives are branded with the beekeeper’s registration number.On all out-of-state movements. There will be a $25 fee per certificate issued or special inspection made plus mileage.On all shipments moving into Florida from outside the state. This certificate is to be issued by the state of origin.Quarantine and Destruction or Treatment of Infested HivesAll hives found infested with American foulbrood disease will be destroyed by burning. Other hives in the bee yard will be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days. Compensation will be paid at half the estimated equipment value, not to exceed $30 for the first 10 hives, after which payment will be discounted. If the disease rate exceeds 50% of the total colony inventory, payment will be discounted 50 percent.Hives infested with other related honey bee pests and any unwanted types of honey bees shall be quarantined and treated as prescribed by FDACS. No compensation will be awarded for such action.Penalties for Violating Florida’s Honey Bee LawViolation of the provisions of Chapter 586, Florida Statutes, is,…

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ENY-134/AA264: Keeping Bees in Florida

Keeping Bees in Florida Keeping Bees in Florida1 Tomas A. Bustamante, Jamie Ellis, and Mary Bammer 2 Introduction There are nearly 5,000 registered beekeepers in the state of Florida (as of September 2019). Nearly 85% of these are considered “backyard” beekeepers (0–40 colonies), while the remaining 15% are “sideline” (41–100 colonies) or “commercial” beekeepers (100+ colonies). In total there are over 650,000 managed colonies in the state that produced more than 10 million pounds of honey in 2018 (USDA 2018). The average winter colony loss in Florida as reported by the Bee Informed Partnership Management Survey was around 24% between 2014 and 2015. This is the third lowest rate across the nation with only Hawaii and Texas reporting lower colony losses in that time period (BIP 2016). This EDIS document gives an overview of what makes Florida a unique state in which to keep honey bees. General Characteristics of Florida Florida is characterized by long, hot and humid summers and mild winters. Unlike in northern climates, honey bees are able to fly, and queens are able to lay eggs almost any time of year. As a result, many of the commercial beekeepers in the United States move their bees to Florida during winter to take advantage of the state’s favorable climate. Although no part of Florida lies strictly in the tropics, much of the state is characterized by distinct tropical wet and dry seasons corresponding to high and low sun periods respectively. Florida can roughly be divided into two areas, a north and western (panhandle) section and a southern peninsula. In north Florida, minor rainfall peaks also occur in the spring and winter. Rainfall is generally sporadic, generally in the form of localized thundershowers. There is about a six degree latitude difference between the extreme north of the state and its southern tip, which accounts for about an hour and a half photoperiod (day length) difference. The long length of days in Florida is advantageous for beekeeping. The sun shines longer in the winter and shorter in the summer than in more temperate regions. The state also spans several climatic zones, and temperate, subtropical, and true tropical conditions are present in different parts of Florida. The state’s proximity to the ocean moderates extremes in temperature throughout the year. Hazards Unfortunately for beekeepers, the very conditions that make Florida a great place to keep bees also make it a great place for bee pests and diseases to do well. The warm climate allows colonies to maintain brood throughout much of the year. While this is a good thing for overall colony growth, it also leads to higher Varroa populations throughout the year, as this is a pest that reproduces in the brood of the honey bee colony. Some pests, such as small hive beetles, thrive in climates like Florida’s due to the higher temperatures and humidity. Consequently, Florida beekeepers must remain vigilant with their disease/pest control practices. For more information on Florida honey bee pests and diseases, see the EDIS subtopic Bee Pests. Bears inhabit many areas of Florida and pose a risk…

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Beekeepers Tax Exemption Process – The Florida Agricultural …

Beekeepers Tax Exemption for Florida We are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program design to provide a mean for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliate sites. In addition, this site may contain other affiliate links to other products or services. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Application Directions Name: The name section is the owner of the property’s name or a representative such as a manager of the business or a tax representative legally that is allowed to represent the interest of the fee simple owner. The tenant does not have the legal right only if they are responsible for the taxes on the lease. Phone: Include the contact number of the owner or someone that has access to the property on behalf of the owner. Parcel ID or legal description: I would include the parcel ID. Trying to locate a property by its legal description is incredibly difficult. Land Used Primarily for Agricultural Purposes Section: If you do not see your specific use in this section, your use would be written in the other box. Circle or simply indicate which use you are applying for by writing in the box to the right the number of acres you’re applying for. The next box to the right is indicates how long you have been active in this particular agricultural use. The Agricultural Income from this Property: Specify the year and what Ag use such as poultry or cattle. The gross income is how much money in total was made that year. Your expenses are what you had to pay to keep that use going. Your net income is the gross income minus the expenses. Under the Agricultural Income Section is the Date Purchased and the Purchase Price. The purchase price isn’t as important as the date purchased but it may be helpful to the Appraiser’s Office to know this information. A Tangible Account is a business account filed with the Property Appraiser. This is a good indication there is a business on the property. It is not a necessity, but you would know if you filed or not. Answer “no” if you do not have a business tax account with the Property Appraiser. The next question: Is the property leased to others? If there is any lease on the property, including a residential lease or a beekeeping lease, the answer is “yes”. Has the property been rezoned to a non-agricultural use at the request of the owner? In other words, if the property was zoned Agricultural/Residential (AR) or just Agricultural, and you as the owner put in a request to the Department of Building and Zoning to change the zoning code to say, commercial, it’s very possible that agricultural use could be an illegal use and disqualify you from acceptance. Again, you would know if you changed the zoning. There is a small area to file out that indicates the year you are applying for so make sure this is completed. Sign and date your application. Make a copy of it and when you send it or drop it…

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How many hives can you have on your property?

How many hives can you have on your property? A common question comes our way every month.  This question is “how many hives can I have on my property”. Your first stop should be to check your sub-division covenants and your local municipality laws for any rules regarding honey bee hives.  Yes, some municipalities have laws to govern bee hives.  It is highly important to research this first.  We hear from dozens of potential beekeepers, each season, that purchase all the beekeeping supplies and honey bees and find out they cannot have bee hives on their property. Generally speaking, most backyard beekeepers have 1 to 2 acres of land with 2 or 3 bee hives.  I have personally had 10 hives on a 1 acre lot in a subdivision.  One important thing to do is talk with your neighbors first.  I did speak with all of my neighbors to get their verbal approval to have these hives placed in my backyard. If you or a neighbor has a swimming pool, you can still have bee hives but it is going to take work in keeping good relations with your neighbor.  Most pools use either chlorine or salt water to keep their pools healthy.  Unfortunately, honey bees love chlorine and salt water.  The honey bees will gravitate to the pool to drink the water. So how do you keep your bees from going to the neighbor’s pool?  What I did was just ask my neighbor to text me the day before letting me know they plan on using their pool the next day.  That evening or early the next morning, I would go out and slide the entry gate over the entry way, to trap the bees in the hive during the next day when my neighbor was having a pool party. Another way is to use a hive net and cinch it around the hive.  This will allow the colony to go out of the hive but contained on those hot days in August. The common denominator is you will have to go out when it is dark and contain the bees.  You may even have to use your smoker in chasing the bees that are camped outside of the hives to go back into the hive.  If you wait til day light, the foraging bees will already be out doing their duty in collecting nectar. When the pool party is over, I just went out and pulled the gate and allowed the bees to forage.  I was able to keep my neighbor across the street happy and she was a big advocate of me raising bees. It should be noted that containing bees within the hive for many days during the nectar flow will reduce the nectar that is collected.  The end result will be lower honey production. On a 5 acre lot I have about 75 hives.  If you go greater than 75 hives you will see the honey bees competing for the same nectar source and will reduce your honey yields per hive.   This is a lot of bees and I highly recommend placing this apiary in the countryside where no homes are within .5 miles. Always remember to talk with your neighbors because they can be an advocate or a real pain in your side.  You will be amazed at how welcoming your neighbors will be because their backyard garden will get pollinated.

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It Behooves Blueberry Growers To Protect Pollinators

It Behooves Blueberry Growers To Protect Pollinators Place managed hives adjacent to a blooming blueberry crop.Photo by Jason Deering Blueberry production is on the rise in Florida, from the number of acres in production to the number of new operations and increased popularity in specialty operations like organic and U-Pick farms. Like many crops in Florida, blueberries are dependent on bee-pollination to set fruit. It is really very simple — the more bees that visit a flower, the more pollen grains that will be transferred from the male stamen to the female, resulting in more fertilized ovules. This equals a larger, more even ripening fruit and demonstrates why pollination is so critical for the grower to understand and manage. Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are more adept to buzz pollination, a vibrating act performed by bumble bee species and other native pollinators that literally shakes the pollen from the flower. However, the availability and abundance of these native pollinators are often not enough to support pollination needs for larger or commercial operations. This is where managed pollinators come into the picture. Management Matters Most growers rent managed honey bee colonies for pollination services during the bloom period. The recommended stocking rate is two to five hives per acre, and with upwards of 50,000 bees per hive, it is no question that honey bees can get the job done. The bloom window is relatively short, with abundant flowers that require pollination within approximately three days after opening. However, it is important that honey bees be placed onto the site only after target crop reaches 5% to 10% bloom. Honey bees forage on the closest, most abundant forage source until it is exhausted. Placing honey bees before the target bloom will leave the bees foraging on the next best source and not the blueberries, even if they are open. Communication between the grower and the beekeeper is crucial to ensure sure hives are ready and placed on site at the correct time relative to bloom. The time period that honey bees are on site for pollination can pose a number of other challenges beyond timing of hive placement for both the beekeeper and the grower. Blueberry growers face the challenges of pollination itself: bad weather, wind, rain, and sudden blooms can all interfere with bees being available during that crucial bloom time. This is on top of fluctuating market prices and the need to manage pest pressures from insects, mites, and diseases that are often controlled using pesticides, which can pose risks to honey bees and other pollinators. Because both bee pollination and insect control are essential to the success of blueberry production, it is important that both beekeepers and growers work together to reduce these risks. Safety First A 2016 survey from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) shows many growers are proactively taking steps to ensure honey bees on site are safe. That’s good news for native pollinators, too, as there are up to 20 different species assist with blueberry pollination in Florida. There are many things that can be done to reduce the risk of pesticides to bees while on crop. Many growers adjust the timing of pesticide applications to when bees are not foraging, i.e. after dusk; even when not indicated by label language. Growers can choose products that have less toxic active ingredients or have less bee-restrictive language on the label. Other practices include reducing the overall number of sprays during bloom or performing certain treatments prior to bloom where possible. These practices, and more importantly their communication and agreement between the beekeeper and the grower, are really…

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Bees & Apiaries – Lee County Property Appraiser

Bees & Apiaries | Lee County Property Appraiser Agricultural Classification What you need to know – Bees and Apiaries Agricultural classification is addressed in F.S. 193.461. Additionally there is some specific guidance on bees etc. located in F.S. 586 and F.A.C. 5B-54 In developing this guide our office has consulted with and received input from a number of sources: local beekeepers, beekeeping associations, state agencies and universities. This guide is meant to assist you in applying and qualifying for an agricultural classification for bees and apiaries. Please be advised that the granting of or denial of any agricultural classification is at the discretion of agricultural staff and management after taking into consideration all facts and information presented to our office. If you have specific questions, please contact our office and speak with our Agricultural Department representative: General Information The process commences when an owner completes the Application and Return for Agricultural Classification of Lands (Form DR-482). Applications are available on-line from the Florida Department of Revenue or you can request one from our office. The application is due in our office by March 1, however, real property is classified as agricultural or non-agricultural as of January 1st of each year. This means that the information on the application and any additional documentation must support and show that there was an agricultural use in existence on January 1. If the application and documentation does not show an agricultural use on January 1, your application must be denied. We cannot grant an agricultural classification simply based upon what you may do or are going to do in the future. This is extremely important. Many property owners get started too late and are disappointed when we cannot grant the classification. Once we receive the application we will review the information provided. We’ll do in office research, review aerials, schedule a first site visit (required), speak with the owner, take pictures and make a determination on or before June 30. Denial notifications are mailed by July 1. General Information for Bee and Apiary Classified Use For the purposes of agricultural classification for bees on real property, the owner of the commercial operation must show that the land is being used to raise or keep bees for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value. The commercial bee operation should clearly define the apiary endeavor (i.e. honey production, bee foraging, raising queens, pollination, etc.). The property for which agricultural classification is requested should be able to support the bee operation on its own. The use of the land must clearly indicate a bona fide commercial endeavor. Throughout the process, the burden is on the property owner to furnish all information showing how the bees and the use of land constitute a bona fide commercial agricultural enterprise. Requirements for the Bee and Apiary Classified Use Application. A completed DR-482 and submission of a valid state registration, certification and inspection certificates. Beekeepers must be registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. If inspections are required for the operation, that documentation must be included with your application. The beekeeper’s state-issued certificate should be submitted to our office annually, showing the commercial operation is still functioning. A lease. If the property is being leased, the lease must accompany the application. The terms of the lease must cover the assessment date (January 1) for the period for which the classification is requested. The lease must also clearly indicate the real property for which the…

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