Beekeeping for Beginners: What are the Legal Requirements for Beekeeping in Your Area?

Do you know the legal requirements for beekeeping in your area?

Thinking about getting a backyard/recreational beehive? One thing is for certain, you should know all the legal requirements for beekeeping in your area first!
We heard from a customer recently that they had been generously given a new beehive by a friend. Unfortunately, this friend hadn’t checked the local council laws first. The council required the hive to be at least five metres from all their property boundaries. This placed it firmly (and inconveniently) in the middle of their yard!
So we recommend you get the ‘boring stuff’ out of the way first. Before you dive into further research and invest, both emotionally and financially, in a beehive. There’s nothing worse than getting yourself (or the kids!) too excited, or spending hard earned cash, and then finding out that you can’t have a hive after all.
There are two levels of government that set laws and requirements for beekeeping:

1. State Government. The Department in charge of beekeeping varies from state to state.

2. Your Local Government Area’s Council. 
You will need to meet requirements from BOTH of these. E.g. In WA it is a legal requirement that you register with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). This applies to all beekeepers, whether you own a single backyard hive or an apiary of hundreds. But it’s the Local Councils that set the rules for things like how far your beehive must be from property boundaries. Or whether you can keep one in your area at all. 
There is also A LOT of other beekeeping information on state government department’s and many local council’s websites. As an aspiring beekeeper, we recommend you don’t dive into this information just yet. Understand the basic legalities of beekeeping in your area first. Leave the many other subjects for a little later, to avoid information overload.

Step 1: Find out your local council rules and ensure you can meet them. Bookmark or save these for future reference.

There are hundreds or city, shire and town councils across Australia. Each of these councils generally publish their local laws on their own websites. 
You can find your local council website by Googling it or via the Local Government & Municipal Knowledge Base (LGAM). This directory has a dedicated page for every council in Australia that links to the council’s own website at the bottom
If you can’t find any information via a simple search on your council’s website, you may need to browse a list of local laws. Each council may include beekeeping laws under different legislations e.g Health Local Law.
Otherwise, use the contact information on the council website or on the LGAM to enquire with your council directly.

Step 2: Locate your State Government registration requirements.

You should also bookmark these or save the forms for later. 
Or you can search for forms and other information on the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS)
These checks shouldn’t take too long and are a starting point. Coming up next on The Buzz, we’ll explore the important questions an aspiring beekeeper needs to ask themselves before they start.
Image for blog post on Legal Requirements for Beekeeping Bee2Bee Beekeeping Supplies Australia 2019

Read more from The Buzz.

Visit the Bee2Bee online shop for beekeeping equipment and supplies.