Beekeeping

Honeybees, like other livestock, don't just look after themselves. Once the decision has been made to keep bees, the beekeeper has a legal and moral obligation to maintain the bees in a healthy state and in such a way that they do not become a nuisance to other people.

Any bee hives must be kept in accordance with the terms of Council's Planning Scheme, Council's Local Laws, the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 and the Apiary Code of Practice 2011.

There are a number of permits required from the Department of Agriculture and Council.

Agriculture Victoria

All beekeepers who keep one or more hives in Victoria are required to be registered with the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Planning (DEDJTR), to comply with the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 and the Apiary Code of Practice 2011.

The Apiary Code of Practice requires beekeepers to:

  • manage colonies
  • capture swarms
  • provide water
  • maintain colonies with young docile queens
  • store used hive components appropriately
  • observe hive density limits
  • ensure bee flight paths don't interfere with neighbouring land
  • place hives greater than three metres from a property boundary fence.

Council Planning Permits

The Apiary Code of Practice sets out a number of requirements which, if complied with, enables beekeeping to be established on land in Victoria without a Council planning permit. A Council planning permit is required for an apiary if any of the requirements of this Code cannot be met. This Code provides a standard approach for consideration of the need for a planning permit. If a planning permit is required, this Code provides a consistent approach for consideration of the application and the resolution of contentious issues where a solution can be reached.

Hive density

One of the primary limitations on beekeeping is the real or perceived interaction between bees and people who live in or use areas near hives. Hive density limits are set to minimise the risk of conflict between people and honey bees. The table below indicates the maximum hive number per property. If you wish to keep more than the number listed in the table below, a planning permit to keep bees may be required.

Tenement size No. of hives
500 m2 or less 1
501 m2 to 1000 m2 2
1001 m2 to 2000 m2 5
2001m2 to less than 4000 m2 10
4000 m2 to less than 1ha 60
1 ha to 2 ha 100
Larger than 2 ha No limit

Council Local Laws

The Community Living Local Law 2018, clause 6.3 states that a Council Local Laws permit is required to keep bees on a road or on Council land. To apply for a permit, complete the required application and submit with the permit application fee to the Local Laws department.

The Community Living Local Law does not require a Local Laws permit to keep bees on private land. However, under clause 6.3(b), a Council authorised officer may direct a person to relocate a bee hive on any land. This direction to relocate a bee hive may be due to the number of hives, their location or if the bees are causing a safety concern, for example: if they are located near a preschool, kindergarten or children’s playground.

Notice to relocate

If you have received a Notice or have been directed to relocate a bee hive from a Council Community Ranger, please ensure that you complete the required work by the specified date. Failure to comply may result in legal action being taken including $200 on-the-spot infringement notices. If you wish to discuss the direction to relocate, please contact Council.

Contacts

For more information on bee keeping permits or the Code of Practice, please contact DEDJTR via telephone on 136 186, or visit the Agriculture Victoria website.