Virginia State Beekeepers Association
Virginia State Beekeepers Association
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Comments Solicited: Virginia's Beekeeping Best Management Practices

Virginia's beekeepers have the opportunity to submit comments HERE on the proposed BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR THE OPERATION OF APIARIES IN ORDER TO LIMIT OPERATOR LIABILITY

Comment Deadline: July 13, 2016.

Agency Contact: Debra Martin, Program Manager, Office of Plant Industry Services, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, P.O. Box 1163, Richmond, VA 23218, telephone (804) 786-3515, FAX (804) 371-7793, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Keith Tignor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Summary:

Chapter 564 of the 2016 Acts of Assembly provides that a beekeeper 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 if he follows best management practices established in regulations adopted by the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This regulation implements Chapter 564 of the 2016 Acts of Assembly by establishing best management practices for persons operating apiaries in order to limit operator liability.

BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR THE OPERATION OF APIARIES IN ORDER TO LIMIT OPERATOR LIABILITY

2VAC5-319-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:"Apiary" means any place where one or more colonies of bees are kept.

"Apiary operator" means a person who operates an apiary and seeks to limit his liability 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 as provided for in § 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia.

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

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

"Comb" means a mass of six-sided cells used by honey bees in which brood is reared and honey and pollen are stored.

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

"Division" means to separate a bee colony into two or more hives.

"EHB" mean European honey bees.

"Foundation" means a template, base, or midrib used for the production of straight, movable comb in a frame.

"Frame" means a wooden or plastic form, usually consisting of four sides, designed to hold comb spaced between 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch apart and to allow for removal of the frame without damage to the comb.

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

"Split" means a division of a bee colony for the purposes of increasing the number of hives.

"Swarm" or "swarming" means a form of propagation of bees in which all or a portion of a colony, usually containing at least one queen, departs from its original hive to establish a new colony.

2VAC5-319-20. Limitation of liability.

A. An apiary operator operating in conformance with § 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia and this chapter 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. This limitation of liability does not apply to intentional tortious conduct or acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or negligence.

B. A person is not required to comply with the provisions of this chapter unless he seeks to limit his liability as provided for in § 3.2-4411.1 of the Code of Virginia.

2VAC5-319-30. Best management practices.

A. An apiary operator shall comply with local, state, and federal ordinances, regulations, and laws pertaining to beekeeping.

B. An apiary operator shall maintain a healthy populous colony of bees by:

1. Removing or securely sealing any empty bee equipment in an apiary. For the purpose of this subdivision, "empty" means without bees but containing comb or other materials attractive to bees;

2. Removing all colonies in a state of decline or combining such colonies with other colonies;

3. Repairing or replacing old, worn, or defective hive boxes, frames, and other bee equipment;

4. Replacing frames containing old comb with new or cleaned frames containing foundation such that all comb in a hive is replaced every five to seven years;

5. Maintaining a minimum of 20 pounds of honey in a hive with the equivalent of one frame of pollen stores for brood production during the growing season;

6. Preventing disturbance or injury to bee colony or hive by vertebrate pests; and

7. Monitoring disease and pest levels to ensure that treatment thresholds are not exceeded. An apiary operator shall manage the colony to address any disease or pest infestation or remove all disease or pest-infested hives that may be detrimental to the health of other colonies in the vicinity of the apiary. An apiary operator shall inspect hives for disease at least once every three months.

C. For the purposes of this subsection, (i) "full hive" means a hive consisting of a minimum of two eight-frame deep hive boxes for a Langstroth-style hive, or a hive of equivalent capacity, that has movable frames with combs, and (ii) "nucleus hive" means a hive with less capacity than a full hive. A full hive should enter the winter with a minimum of 60 pounds of honey and the equivalent of four frames of pollen stores. A nucleus hive should enter the winter with a minimum of 30 pounds of honey and the equivalent of two frames of pollen stores.

D. An apiary operator shall practice proper management and control techniques to reduce the likelihood of swarming.

E. An apiary operator shall maintain all colonies at least 10 feet away from property lines to prevent an individual from impeding normal bee flight activity from a hive. An apiary operator shall place all colonies that are less than 40 feet from a property line behind a barrier that is no less than six feet in height and is located between the colony and the property line. Barriers should be of sufficient density, length, and height to establish bee flyways six feet or higher above ground level.

F. An apiary operator shall maintain a water source within 50 feet of a colony or less than one-half the distance to the nearest unnatural water source, whichever is closest. An unnatural water source includes a swimming pool, bird bath, and pet or livestock watering receptacle.

G. An apiary operator shall not maintain an apiary within 50 feet of any animal that is tethered, kenneled, or otherwise prevented from escaping a possible stinging incident.

H. An apiary operator shall avoid opening or disturbing a colony when another person is participating in outside non-beekeeping activities or using machinery within 150 feet of the apiary.

I. An apiary operator shall only maintain a colony with EHB or EHB hybrid stock and shall:

1. Obtain queens, packaged bees, nucleus colonies, or established hives from suppliers providing EHB stock, or obtain a queen and bees from a local supplier;

2. Not obtain queens or bees from suppliers within 100 miles from known Africanized honey bee populations;

3. Introduce queens from healthy stock when making divisions or splits of established colonies;

4. Replace queens in all captured or trapped swarms within 30 days of capturing or trapping swarms;

5. Replace queens in all colonies every two years to minimize swarming behavior; and

6. Mark the thorax or clip a wing of the queens prior to their introduction to splits, swarms, and colonies.

Submit comments HERE

View comments HERE

The VSBA is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting and advancing beekeeping in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Membership in the VSBA is open to beekeepers and non-beekeepers, alike. Annual membership dues are $12.00 per individual/family or $10.00 through local associations. In addition to other benefits, members receive a quarterly newsletter.

Promoting Knowledge and Fellowship
Among Beekeepers in the Commonwealth of Virginia

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