Honey bees are growing in popularity in Ohio, but what are some things to consider if you are looking to become a beekeeper? In this Legal with Leah, Ohio Farm Bureau’s Ty Higgins and Policy Counsel Leah Curtis visit about the basics of beekeeping.

Ohio Farm Bureau · Legal With Leah – Beekeeping

Listen to Legal with Leah, a podcast featuring Ohio Farm Bureau’s Policy Counsel Leah Curtis discussing topics impacting farmers and landowners.


Ty Higgins [00:00:00] One of the fastest growing segments of Ohio agriculture is beekeeping. We’ll say there’s a buzz around that part of the industry. For this Legal with Leah, I’m Ty Higgins, joined by Leah Curtis. She’s policy counsel for Ohio Farm Bureau. You know, I enjoy the product they produce, and I’ve actually been in a bee suit next to a hive and not the most fun experience I’ve ever had. But there are a lot of beekeepers out there in Ohio that this has been a hobby, maybe turned into a career for a lot of them. And there’s a lot of things that they need to know as they start to grow that part of their business in our agriculture sector. Let’s talk about registration of bees. I had a friend last week said that he’d had to register his bees. He didn’t know why. So why would they have to do that?

Leah Curtis [00:00:45] Bees, like anything else, they can carry diseases. They can cause different issues in the ecosystem. I mean, think about how important bees are to the ecosystem. If we had some problem with them, we’d want to be able to know that people are taking care of things correctly, that they’re getting bees from reputable sources. So that registration, which, I understand that it’s a hassle for people, but you do that registration, it’s a $5 fee per apiary by June 1 of each year. And that just makes sure that we can kind of keep track of our beekeeping industry and make sure it remains healthy. And hopefully we can continue to grow it and allow people more opportunities to participate in it.

Ty Higgins [00:01:24] So what are the deadlines for that? Leah Curtis [00:01:25] So that registration’s due by June 1 of each year or within 10 days after you come into ownership of the bees or you move bees into the state. So really annually do it. Or if you bring something in in the middle of the year, go ahead and do that registration with ODA, the Department of Agriculture.

Ty Higgins [00:01:43] As I mentioned, bees aren’t for everybody. And so if you have a colony or a few hives, you might have some neighbors that might be a little uncomfortable with that particular situation and maybe getting a little too close for comfort, so to speak. So how do you be a good neighbor as a beekeeper?

Leah Curtis [00:01:59] So being a good beekeeper neighbor is just like being a good neighbor of any other sort. No. 1, talk to your neighbors about it. Hear their concerns, explain how you’re going to try to mitigate those issues. Be sensitive to the fact that people do have very severe allergies, particularly to bees. And that’s an important caveat that people are going to be concerned about. And you want to try to make sure you’re respectful of. Check your local zoning laws. While beekeeping does fall under the ag exemption from county and township zoning, you want to make sure that there’s not any issues that are going to arise, particularly if you live in a city or if you live in a community with a homeowner’s association. That could also be something that’s in your restrictive covenants. So you’d want to check on that. And just some basic kindness things. Make sure your hives are facing away from your neighbors. It can be a good idea to put them near a building or a planting that will encourage a more vertical flight path so that your bees aren’t kind of drifting into your neighbor’s yards. Don’t mess with your bees while people are having their Labor Day parties or their graduation parties. Avoid those kind of heavy outdoor party times, and then make sure you have a constant source of clean water because you don’t want your bees ending up in your neighbor’s pool because that’s where they can get fresh water. So make sure you have a good source of fresh water for those bees to go to. You can kind of train the bees to get to that source. Make sure they’re going to where you have provided them water and not ending up in your neighbor’s birdbath or their pool.

Ty Higgins [00:03:36] You mentioned all the things that could go wrong if things aren’t set up correctly. What liabilities are out there for beekeepers?

Leah Curtis [00:03:43] So obviously, there is the concern of people getting stung..of the bees kind of becoming a nuisance, disrupting your neighbors’ other activities, swarming, that kind of thing. So, following those best management practices, staying up-to-date on what is recommended. New ways that you can work with your bees to kind of limit those nuisances are a great way to kind of mitigate some of that liability. The other thing: always, always, always talk to your insurance agent. This is a new thing you’re adding to your property that can create some liability. So talk to your insurance agent about how it’s covered, if it’s covered, how can you get it covered? The worst thing would be for you to get in a situation where somebody is alleging some sort of legal action against you and your insurance company knows nothing about it and then says, oh, well you don’t have any coverage for that. So always sit down and have that conversation.

Leah Curtis [00:04:41] You know, we can’t really say whether a beekeeper would or would not be liable. That’s always a question for a court to look at the situation. But, following those best management practices, creating that protection with your insurance agent, following the latest information updates, those go a long way to prevent your liability issues.


Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Suggested Tags: