A healthy and vibrant apiary industry is important to the economy and welfare of the people of the State of California. The County of San Diego's Honey Bee Protection Program expands beekeeping opportunities in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County, promotes responsible beekeeping, and ensures public safety.
APIARY REGISTRATION AND YEARLY RENEWAL
Each year beekeepers in California are required to report the number and location of honey bee colonies to the Agricultural Commissioner in the county where located by the first day of January and/or within 30 days of acquiring bees. Registration is a state law and San Diego County ordinance.
Completed Apiary Registration forms can be returned by postal mail, along with a $10.00 registration fee (fee required only if you have ten or more hives), to the County of San Diego Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures. If your colonies are located in the unincorporated area of San Diego County please submit the Best Management Practice checklist Tier A, Tier B, or Tier C, in addition to your registration form. If you are a first time registrant and your colonies are located in the unincorporated area of San Diego County, please complete the online beekeeping course as well.
BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES (BMP) FOR BEEKEEPING
Best management practices (PDF) are requirements established for beekeepers with bee colonies located in unincorporated San Diego County.
Note: all BMPs specified in the ordinance, including registration and checklist, are required. You can see a video series on San Diego County Beekeeping Best Management Practices by visiting the University of California Cooperative Extension website.
BEEKEEPER ONLINE COURSE
First-year registrants with hives located in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County are required to complete the online course on beekeeping.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY ORDINANCE RELATING TO BEEKEEPING AND APIARIES
San Diego County Bee Ordinance (pdf) - The ordinance applies to bees placed in the unincorporated areas of the county. If you maintain bees in one of the eighteen municipalities (cities) in San Diego, you should follow your respective city bee ordinances/regulations.
BENEFITS OF YOUR REGISTRATION
• The County's Apiary Inspector is available to assist you in detecting honey bee pests, diseases, and undesirable honey bee behavior.
• Registered beekeepers may request advance notification of pesticide applications labeled “toxic to bees” that will be applied within one mile of your apiary.
• Registration makes you part of our honey bee network that provides correspondence on honey bee quarantine pest of concern, regulatory information, and science-based beekeeping information
JURISDICTION FINDER MAP
Jurisdiction finder map – find out the City or local jurisdiction for your apiary's location
APIARY TIER AND COLONY PLACEMENT
TIER A: 1-2 colonies per location
Colonies must be 25 feet or more from the road, 25 feet or more from the property line, 35 feet or more from a neighbor's dwelling, and 150 feet or more from the property line of sensitive sites.
TIER B: 3-10 colonies per location
Colonies must be 50 feet or more from the road, 50 feet or more from the property line, 100 feet or more from a neighbor's dwelling, and 150 feet or more from the property line of sensitive sites.
11-20 colonies per location
Colony distances are the same as 3-10 colony sites for road, property line, and neighbor dwellings. Colonies must be 300 feet or more from the property line of sensitive sites.
TIER C: More than 20 colonies per location
Colonies must be 100 feet or more from the road, 300 feet or more from a neighbor's dwelling, and 450 feet or more from the property line of sensitive sites.
IDENTIFICATION OF HIVES
Hives located in unincorporated areas of San Diego County shall be identified with beekeeper’s name and telephone number in black letters, at least one inch high on a background of contrasting color. This information helps apiary inspectors, pesticide applicators, and first responders contact the beekeeper.
Beekeepers with hives located in unincorporated areas of San Diego County shall maintain an adequate and accessible supply of fresh water at all times. If an apiary location does not contain sufficient natural water, the beekeeper shall provide water source with landing sites for honey bees to forage without drowning.
FIRE PREVENTION - BEE SMOKER SAFETY
- Bee smoker should have a noncombustible smoker plug
- Bee smoker should be carried in noncombustible secondary container with secured lid
- During vehicle transport of bee smoker with burning or smoldering substances, smoker should be placed in noncombustible container with lid fastened closed
- After use, all burning or smoldering substances in bee smoker should be extinguised
Apiaries in Tier A or B in a residential area within three hundred feet of neighboring dwellings shall maintain a six foot vertical flyover barrier. A flyover barrier directs bees' flight path upward to prevent bees from flying at a height where they could intersect with a person or animal in a neighboring property. The barrier is a solid wall, fence, dense vegetation, or any combination thereof, that provides an obstruction through which honey bees cannot readliy fly. Property line fences or barriers do not constitute flyover barriers.
What goes on in an Apiary inspection? An apiary Inspector ensures that the apiary meets best management practices for beekeeping that are required by County ordinance. The inspector will inspect for diseases and pests that may impact the apiary industry. The inspector will ensure that the beekeeper is complying with distance, water, fire prevention, and other ordinance requirements, to protect public safety.
To request an inspection, please contact Apiary Inspector Jaime Garza at (858) 614-7739 or firstname.lastname@example.org
RESOURCES ON HONEY BEE PESTS AND DISEASES
Diagnosis of Honey bee diseases (USDA) (PDF)
Honey bee pests (MAAREC/Penn State Extension) (PDF)
Honey bee disease information (University of Florida)
Tools for Varroa Management (Honey Bee Health Coalition)
Honey Bees and Beekeeping in San Diego County (UC Cooperative Extension - San Diego) (PDF)
Abejas Meliferas y Apicultura en el Condado de San Diego (UC Cooperative Extension - San Diego) (PDF)
Honey Bees and Beekeeping for Kids (UC Cooperative Extension - San Diego) (PDF)
Bee Garden Plant List (UC Davis) (PDF)
PESTICIDES AND HONEY BEE PROTECTION
AFRICANIZED HONEY BEE FACTS
Africanized honey bees (AHB) are in San Diego County! The entire County, from desert to coast, is considered colonized by AHB. This means that you might encounter overly-defensive honey bees anywhere in the County. Click the links below for more information.
AHB Information (University of Florida)
PREVENT A STINGING INCIDENT
FERAL (WILD) HONEY BEE COLONY COMPLAINTS
The County of San Diego CANNOT remove feral or wild bees from private property. We DO NOT recommend that you attempt to remove bees yourself. The bees can be unpredictable, may be agitated, and you, and others, may be stung. Please contact a licensed pest control company that operates in your area (look under "BEES" in the yellow pages).
What is a swarm? (PDF)
MANAGED HONEY BEE COLONY COMPLAINTS
The County of San Diego Department of Agriculture only investigates complaints against managed honey bee colonies located in the unincorporated areas of the County. If you have specific information that a County code violation may exist relating to a managed honey bee colony in your neighborhood or near your business, you may file a report using the form provided below. If you would like to file a report against a managed honey bee colony within one of the eighteen incorporated cities within the County, please contact your local City or jurisdiction for their local bee regulations. You can find out the jurisdiction by typing the apiary address into our Jurisdiction Finder Map.
SENSITIVE SITES NEAR APIARIES
An Opt-In Sensitive Site is a property or residence where individual(s) live or work who have medical reasons that require managed honey bees to be placed at a greater distance from the site as a safety buffer. In order to be considered as a designated Sensitive Site, and individual or business must submit an application to our office for review. This applies only to properties or residences in the unincorporated areas of the County.
Beekeeping in San Diego County (University of California Cooperative Extension - San Diego)
Apiary Laws & Regulations (California Department of Food and Agriculture)
Vector Control Program (County of San Diego)