Beekeeping and the Law in DC

dc map in honeyBeekeeping was more widely legalized in DC with the Sustainable DC Act of 2012, creating expanded opportunities for legal, responsible beekeeping in Washington. Beekeeping is overseen by the DC Department of the Environment (DDOE). Published in late August 2015, you can review the regulations regarding beekeeping at http://tinyurl.com/oedhnxm.

Would-be beekeepers should become familiar with these regulations before planning to get bees. Key requirements include:

  • To register colonies with DDOE, including a $10 per-apiary fee [registration form]
  • To get permits before moving bees, combs, woodenware, or anything that has contained brood into DC
  • To be inspected at city discretion
  • To keep bees on movable frames (Langstroth, TBH, or Warré)
  • No more than four hives per quarter acre
  • Water source must be provided
  • Hives must be set back more than 15 feet from a property line, or have a regulation flyway barrier or annual neighbor permission
  • The beekeeper is responsible for remediation of bee swarms and nuisance conditions.
  • DOEE is willing to inspect and certify apiary sites in advance 

If you receive notice that your apiary is not currently compliant, we invite you to reach out the community for helping hands and possibly tools to get your site set up right. You are not in this alone.

The full text of the original Sustainable DC Law law is available at http://dcclims1.dccouncil.us/images/00001/20130124112432.pdf (bees are on Page 12) and a recently passed amendment to the law is at http://dcclims1.dccouncil.us/images/00001/20131122173832.pdf (bees start Page 23). The complete regulations can be downloaded here.

The main contact for beekeepers and members of the public with questions concerning keeping colonies of bees within DC is:

Natasha Garcia Andersen
Fish and Wildlife Biologist
Fisheries and Wildlife Division
Department of Energy and the Environment
1200 First Street NE, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20002
202.870.6004
natasha.garcia-andersen@dc.gov
www.doee.dc.gov