The surge of interest in backyard beekeeping has reached a new peak in recent years. This is notably due to the decline in the population of honeybees and other pollinators. With this interest, however, comes the need to adhere to ordinances depending on where beehives are kept. This is to ensure that your hives can run smoothly, as well as safeguarding the vitality of the bee colony, and the well-being of neighbors.
Photo by Sylvia Heaton
Michigan Licensing and Registration of Apiary
In short, there is no apiary registration requirement for apiaries in Michigan. With this relative freedom throughout most of the state, it is good to remember a few rules of thumb: Namely, do not overcrowd the hives. Keep the colonies a safe distance from neighbors and populated areas. Maintain a water source close to your bees, so that they don’t have to go looking for it in areas deemed inappropriate.
Additionally, there is a voluntary program called Bee Check. This is an online designation to let farmers and others who use pesticides aware of the location of honeybees. You can register with Bee Check through the DriftWatch Website: https://driftwatch.org/
Beekeeping is classified as an agricultural activity. However, there are various regulations depending on the number of hives:
Hobby: Less than 25 colonies.
Hobby beekeepers are generally not considered agricultural.
2. Sideliners: 25-300 colonies
Sideliners are usually a unit of other agricultural operations.
3.Commercial producers: 300 or more colonies.
These might fall under agricultural classification, depending on the processing, distribution, etc. of the product.
To see what classifies as Agricultural Classification, check the State of Michigan Classification of Real Property:
City of Ypsilanti allows only two hives per apiary within the city. These hives must contain movable frames, which shall be kept in “sound and usable condition.” Plus, the beekeeper must post a sign with his name and phone number, making the public aware that bees are present.
If the Ypislanti bee colony is situated within 25 feet of a public or private property line, the beekeeper must maintain a flyway barrier at least 6 feet high. The barrier can be a solid wall, fence, dense vegetation or combination thereof that is “parallel to the property line and extends 10 feet beyond the colony in each direction so that all bees are forced to fly at an elevation of at least 6 feet above ground level over the property lines in the vicinity of the apiary.”
Water: Each beekeeper shall ensure that a convenient source of water is available to the bees at all times during the year. This is to prevent bees from gathering“at swimming pools, pet watering bowls, bird baths or other water sources where they may cause human, bird or domestic pet contact.”
General Maintenance: “Each beekeeper shall ensure that no bee comb or other materials are left upon the grounds of the apiary site. Upon their removal from the hive, all such materials shall promptly be disposed of in a sealed container or placed within a building or other bee-proof enclosure.”
Queens: “In any instance in which a colony exhibits unusual aggressive characteristics by stinging or attempting to sting without due provocation or exhibits an unusual disposition toward swarming, it shall be the duty of the beekeeper to promptly re-queen the colony with another queen. Queens shall be selected from European stock bred for gentleness and non-swarming characteristics.”
Grand Rapids has maintained regulations since 2003, permitting bee colonies at least 100 feet from property lines and more than 150 feet from houses. The mayor has agreed to review these restrictions and city commissioners are considering a change.
No person shall keep or possess an apiary containing more than 2 stands or hives of bees within the City of Ann Arbor.
For a full list of Michigan ordinances and codes, check here: http://www.law.msu.edu/library/substantive/local.html