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Placer County adopts beekeeping ordinance to set industry standards, allow for backyard hives

Published March 14, 2023

The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday adopted a new beekeeping ordinance to regulate best practices in the industry and allow for hobbyist beekeeping in single-family residence backyards.

Previously, county code did not specify requirements for beekeeping activities. This has resulted in an overconcentration of beehives in certain areas and an increase in nuisance complaints. 

The adopted ordinance now requires beekeepers to follow a set of standards that includes notifying adjacent neighbors of their operation, ensures water source adequacy and requires a setback for hives of at least 50 feet from a property line.

In addition, the ordinance defines a commercial bee yard as a location with 10 or more hives and requires that any new operation be located at least 1 mile from an existing bee yard.

Bee yards are now limited to five hives per acre and 100 total hives with the ability to apply for an exemption.

Too many hives in one location can lead to a reduction in honey production because nectar sources are spread too thin in that area.

“We’re looking to support our beekeepers and ensure a good orderly way to keep bees in Placer County,” said Placer County Agricultural Commissioner Joshua Huntsinger.

The ordinance would also allow for residential beekeeping of up to two hives for hobbyists, to produce honey for personal use and to share with friends and family, but not likely enough to package and sell.

Residential beekeepers will be required to register with the Agricultural Commissioner’s office and notify neighbors immediately adjacent to them.

The ordinance adoption was preceded by a series of community outreach events beginning in 2020 with opportunities for members of the beekeeping industry to provide feedback and help guide the process.

For more information on beekeeping in Placer County, click here.

With Tuesday’s approval, the ordinance takes effect in 30 days.