Placer County Beekeeping Ordinance Update
The Placer County Agriculture Department is proposing to amend the Placer County Code which regulates beekeeping to provide a clear and comprehensive set of rules in order to reduce conflict and nuisance complaints, and provide a clear set of operating rules for beekeepers. These rules are focused on addressing land use requirements that are not covered by California Food and Agricultural Code, Division 13 (the state law that covers beekeeping).
Beekeeping Ordinance Presentation
Q. What is the issue or concern?
A. Bee complaints are the number one category of agricultural nuisance complaints received by the county’s Agriculture Department. Most complaints are related to beehives when they are placed too close to neighboring houses, too many beehives in one place, or bees accessing water sources such as swimming pools or bird baths on neighboring properties.
Q. Why is a new beekeeping ordinance needed?
A. Placer County’s current beekeeping ordinance 17.56.050(F)(2) simply says “Requirements and standards for bee raising activities shall be as required by the agricultural commissioner.”. While this ordinance gives a lot of authority to the agricultural commissioner, it does not provide any specific requirements regarding how bees are to be kept or how many bees are allowed to be placed on a specific parcel. The county’s intention is to provide more specific rules in order to provide clear guidelines to beekeepers and reduce conflicts between beekeepers and their neighbors.
Q. What are the specifics of the more comprehensive proposed ordinance?
A. Here are some of the most significant elements of the proposed ordinance:
- Defines “commercial bee yard” as 10 or more hives
- Limits commercial bee yards to a ratio of 5 hives per acre where allowed by zoning (general agricultural zoned parcels)
- Limits the maximum size of any bee yard to 100 hives regardless of parcel size (for parcels of greater than 20 acres)
- Requires a 1-mile separation buffer between commercial bee yards
- Requires that beekeepers proactively provide a sufficient water source for their bees
- Requires setbacks from public roadways and neighboring houses
- Allows a maximum of 4 beehives in “Residential Single-family” zoning with county approval
Q. What about hobby beekeepers?
A. Hobby beekeepers are defined as those beekeepers with 9 or fewer hives. They are exempt from county registration fees and not required to comply with the 1-mile buffer separation that applies to commercial bee yards. Additionally, the proposed ordinance revision would allow for hobby/backyard beekeepers to keep a small number of hives (4 or less) in backyard/residential settings where bees are not currently allowed.