Beekeeping is becoming increasingly popular in Florida. The typical urban or backyard beekeeper maintains one to five colonies. Backyard beekeeping traditionally has provided honey for home consumption and general enjoyment for those who keep bees as a hobby. Keeping honey bees requires responsible management so that the bees do not become a nuisance. Following these recommendations will form a positive cooperation between beekeepers, neighbors, and landowners.
- Register your backyard hives: People keeping bees (any number of colonies) in Florida are required by law to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.
- Hive type: All honey bee colonies should be kept in removable-frame hives such as Langstroth-type hives.
- Fencing of flyways: In instances where colonies are situated within close proximity (~25 feet) to a public or private property line of the land upon which the apiary is situated, it is advisable to establish and maintain a flyway barrier. The ideal barrier is at least 6 feet high and a flight path will minimize human/bee traffic interactions.
- Water: A convenient source of water should be available to the bees at all times during the year so that the bees will not congregate at watering sources where they may contact humans, birds, or domestic pets.
- General Maintenance: No bee comb or other materials should be left on the grounds of the apiary site.
- Queens: All colonies ideally should be maintained with marked European honey bee queens produced by breeders. Beekeepers should requeen if a colony shows unusual defensive characteristics.
To protect public safety and reduce beekeeping liability, apiaries should not be sited in proximity to tethered or confined animals, students, the elderly, the general public, drivers on public roadways, sites that attract visitors, or any area where animal/bee and people/bee interactions may have a high likelihood of occurring.
For more information, please visit the “Best Management Practices for Siting Honey Bee Colonies: Good Neighbor Guidelines” .
By Amy Vu, Extension Agent, Residential Horticulture & Master Gardener Volunteer Program Coordinator