Local Laws

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Washington State

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Washington State Laws

King County

21A.30.020 of K.C.C. 11.04

Sections “a” through “f” are not applicable to beekeeping and have not been included for clarity sake.

g. Beekeeping is limited as follows:

  1. Beehives are limited to 50 on sites less than five acres ;
  2. The number of beehives shall not be limited on sites of five acres or greater;
  3. Colonies shall be maintained in movable-frame hives at all times;
  4. Adequate space shall be provided in each hive to prevent overcrowding and swarming;
  5. Colonies shall be requeened following any swarming or aggressive behavior;
  6. All colonies shall be registered with the County Extension agent prior to April 1st of each year, on a state registration form acceptable to the county; and
  7. Abandoned colonies, diseased bees, or bees living in trees, buildings, or any other space except in movable-frame hives shall constitute a public nuisance, and shall be abated as set forth in K.C.C. 21A.50.


18.07.160 Animals – Honey bees.

  1. Parcel and Apiary Size Requirements:
    1. 0 to 5,999 square feet 0 hives
    2. 6,000 to 10,000 square 2 hives
    3. 10,001 to 20,000 square feet 4 hives
    4. 20,001 to 43,560 square feet (.46 ac to 1 ac) 10 hives
    5. 35,001 to 65,340 square feet (1 ac to 1.5 ac) 20 hives
    6. 1.5 to 5.0 acres 25 hives in urban areas
    7. 5.01 to 10.0 acres 40 hives in urban areas
    8. 60 hives as a rural or mountainhoney foraging site, or 60 or more hives as a 30-day collection site for truck access in spring and fall
  2. Hive Placement Requirements: 
    1. Hives shall be at least twenty-five (25) feet from a property line, with the hive(s) entrance(s) facing away from or parallel to the nearest property line.
    2. Hives may be less than twenty-five (25) feet from a property line if placed behind a six (6) foot high fence, which shall extend at least twenty-five (25) feet beyond the hive(s) in both directions. The fence shall direct bee flight into the air at least six (6) feet before the bees cross the property line. The fence or obstruction may occur on the adjoining property; provided, that bee flight is not directed in the vicinity of recreational decks or entrances to housing or buildings on adjoining properties. In lieu of a fence, the hive(s) may be placed at least eight (8) feet above adjacent ground level, and comply with the remaining placement requirements.
    3. A hive(s) adjacent to public roads shall comply with placement requirements in such a manner as to direct bee flight at least twenty (20) feet into the air over the road surface. In lieu of this requirement, a hive(s) shall be placed at least one hundred (100) feet from the road right(s)-of-way, with the entrance(s) parallel thereto.
  3. Hive, Apiary Management Requirements: 
    1. Hive(s) shall be registered with the Department of Agriculture and comply with Chapter 15.60 RCW and rules adopted thereunder; and
    2. All hives shall consist of moveable frames and combs, unless exempted by the Department of Agriculture as an educational exhibit; and
    3. Hives shall be managed for swarm prevention and gentleness; and
    4. Hives shall be requeened at least bi-annually to prevent swarming. Annual requeening is strongly recommended; and
    5. Hives shall be requeened if bee behavior is likely to cause a nuisance; and
    6. A consistent source of water shall be provided at the apiary unless it occurs naturally within three hundred (300) yards. The water may be “sweetened” with mineral salt or chlorine to enhance its attractiveness. This requirement is intended to discourage bee visitation at swimming pools, hose bibs, animal watering sources, bird baths or where people congregate; and
    7. Apiaries shall be managed and kept in a clean and orderly manner and appearance to prevent a nuisance; and
    8. An apiary(s) shall be identified by placing a sign so it is visible to passersby. Sign lettering shall be a minimum of two (2) inches in height and shall include the name, state issued identification number, and telephone number of the owner. Signs shall be placed in a manner to make them conspicuous to anyone approaching the apiary. In lieu of signing, a hive may be identified by displaying the identification number and telephone number of the owner in at least two (2) inch characters on the sides and tops of some colonies in each apiary. The characters shall be in a color which contrasts with the color of the hive(s), and be conspicuous to anyone approaching the apiary. An apiary(s) located at the owner’s residence is exempt from marking requirements.
  4. Nuisance: Bees shall be considered a nuisance when any of the following occurs: 
    1. Colonies of bees are defensive or exhibit objectionable behavior, or interfere with the normal use of property, or the enjoyment of persons, animals or property adjacent to an apiary(s); or
    2. Colonies of bees swarm; or
    3. Hives of bees do not conform to this Code; or
    4. The hive(s) becomes deceased, as defined by the Department of Agriculture; or
    5. The hive(s) becomes abandoned.
  5. Violations: Reported or visible violations may be corrected by order of the City within which they occur according to established procedures, or by the Department of Agriculture. The City may request the services of the Department of Agriculture to investigate violations or to determine and suggest appropriate corrective measures. Penalties may be levied by the City according to local ordinance or procedures, or by the Department of Agriculture.
    (Ord. 2108 §, 1996).

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