Keeping honey bees on your property

We allow honey beekeeping in community gardens and qualifying residential and commercial properties. We provide guidelines to help residents keep safe and formalize honey beekeepers' responsibilities.

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Honey beekeeping myths

While honey beekeeping in an urban setting can be a powerful way to connect to the natural environment and our food system, misinformation about the benefits and impacts of urban honey beekeeping is common.

If you are interested in becoming an urban honey beekeeper, review the myths and facts before deciding if this is the right activity for you.

Steps to keeping honey bees in Vancouver

If you are ready to start keeping honey bees in Vancouver, you need to follow three steps before setting up your apiary (bee yard):

Honey bee health and safety

Reporting a honey bee colony concern

Any concerns regarding the health of your honey bee colony such as pest and disease management should be reported to a Provincial Apiary Inspector, who can provide guidance on management and arrange for a hive inspection if necessary.  

Review a list of inspectors

Honey bee swarming

Swarming is the natural process by which one honey bee colony splits into two (a form of reproduction). It typically takes place in the spring, so if you see a swarm of insects later in the summer it is unlikely to be a honey bee swarm.

When honey bee swarming occurs, a large number of honey bees leave their hive in a close formation (the swarm), which typically stops at a branch or other perch while scout bees fly further afield to search for a new home.

Urban honey beekeepers do their best to manage hives to prevent swarming, but sometimes swarms still occur. 

What to do if you come across a honey bee swarm

If you come across a honey bee swarm, you may be alarmed by the number of honey bees in your proximity.

Remain calm and remember that in most circumstances, a swarm of honey bees is not dangerous.

Swarming honey bees are generally docile and not likely to sting as they have fed prior to swarming and are not defending their nest.

Reporting a honey bee swarm

You may wish to report a honey bee swarm to the Richmond Beekeepers Association at will contact a honey beekeeper who may be available to safely remove the swarm.

Before doing so, do your best to confirm that the swarm is a honey bee swarm: a moving cloud of honey bees that stops to rest in a tree, on a building, or fence. Refer to the links in the resources section for tips on identifying bees, wasps, flies, and other flying insects.

The Richmond Beekeepers Association members only work with honey bees and will not address swarms of other insects such as wasps or bumblebees. For other types of insects you may wish to contact a pest control company. 

When you contact the Richmond Beekeepers Association to report the honey bee swarm, include any details you have about the honey bee swarm, such as:

  • Location, including height and any challenges with access
  • Time of day
  • How long the honey bee swarm has been at this location