BYLAWS (Proposed)

Part 1

Beekeeping in urban areas


History of register for the Keeping of Bees Control

Action Description Date of decision Decision reference Commencement
Make Keeping of Bees Control TBC TBC TBC



  1. 1 Introduction

Bees play an integral role in the pollination of food crops including backyard vegetable gardens and edible community gardens[1]. Beekeeping in urban areas requires good hive management practices to ensure potential nuisance or risks to public health and safety are minimised.

National requirements

Beekeepers have a legal obligation to register their apiary under the Biosecurity (National American Foulbrood Pest Management Plan) Order 1998. Registration of apiaries is intended to protect honey bees from American foulbrood disease. An apiary register also allows the Ministry for Primary Industries to carry out surveillance for exotic pests and diseases of honey bees and respond to an incursion. Registrations are processed by AsureQuality Ltd and registration codes are required to be displayed in a visible manner in each apiary, usually on a beehive. Further information on American foulbrood disease can be found at

Animal Management Bylaw 2014

The Animal Management Bylaw 2014 requires every person keeping bees –

  • to ensure their bees do not cause a nuisance to any other person;
  • to ensure their bees do not cause a risk to public health and safety;
  • to obtain a licence to keep bees in a public place;
  • to comply with any keeping of bees control made by the council.

 2 Keeping of Bees Control

The Keeping of Bees Control, made under the Animal Management Bylaw 2014, introduces compulsory minimum standards for responsible beekeeping in urban areas so that concerns related to public health, safety and nuisance are managed. Additional guidelines, while not compulsory, are provided to assist beekeepers understand why the minimum standards are important and how they will help to enable the keeping of bees in urban areas, while protecting the public from nuisance and risk of beestings.

Keeping of Bees Control – Flight path management
  1. Every person keeping bees in an urban area must take all reasonable steps to ensure beehives are positioned and managed in a way that has minimal impact to any other person.



Guidelines for flight path management

Flight path management is an important aspect of responsible beekeeping. Honey bees will fly at head height for some distance from their hives unless their surrounding environment directs their flight path upwards. Honey bees can be encouraged to fly above head height if a flyway barrier, two or more metres tall, is placed 1-2 metres out from the front of the hive entrance. This is important in home gardens and if bees are crossing public pathways on private or public places. Barriers that can be used include shrubs or trees, a wall, a hedge or a fence. Beehives can be placed on top of sheds or buildings but it may be more difficult to work with the bees in these restricted locations.

Keeping of Bees Control – Bee management
  1. Every person keeping bees in an urban area must maintain honey bee colonies with a calm temperament and must take all reasonable steps to control swarming.



Guidelines for bee management

Although swarming is the natural means of dispersal of honey bee colonies, beekeepers can undertake responsible bee management practices to minimise the occurrence of swarms in urban areas. These practices can include re-queening on an annual basis, taking a nucleus colony out of populous hives (artificial swarming) and re-queening colonies that have been started from swarms. Beekeepers should contact their local beekeeping club or the National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand for further advice on bee management.


Maintaining a calm temperament

Maintaining honey bee colonies with a calm temperament is important for minimising potential nuisance to neighbours and the risk of bee stings. Honey bees are generally docile and only sting as a defensive mechanism. The genetics of the queen influences the nature of the hive and aggressive bees release alarm pheromones and behave in a more defensive manner. Queen bees should be culled from aggressive colonies and replaced with queens from a gentle strain. If the queen is coming into her second season, the colony is more likely to swarm.


Working with bees

Beekeepers in urban areas should be considerate of their neighbours and work with bees at appropriate times of the day. During the weekend an appropriate time may be earlier in the morning. Beekeepers should avoid working with bees in wet and cold weather conditions.



Management of seasonal build up

Honey bee colonies are more likely to swarm if there are limited cells in the hive for the worker bees to store honey and pollen. Responsible bee management practices need to be undertaken during the seasonal build up to avoid such situations. Plenty of room should be provided for the queen to lay eggs and for the bees to store honey. Consider taking three-five frames of bees, brood and stores from the hive (nucleus hive) as an artificial swarm.


Keeping of Bees Control – Provision of water
  1. Every person keeping bees in an urban area must ensure there is a suitable water source for the bees on the premises on which the beehives are kept.



Guidelines for water provision

Like other animals, bees drink water. Providing a source of clean water may reduce the number of bees foraging elsewhere for water and creating a nuisance to neighbours, especially if they own a swimming pool.


Keeping of Bees Control – Bee excrement management
  1. Every person keeping bees in an urban area must take all reasonable steps to minimise nuisance to any other person from bee excrement.



Guidelines for bee excrement management

Like other animals, bees excrete waste products. Honey bees going on orientation, foraging or cleaning flights often excrete after exiting the hive. This can leave distinct trails of coloured bee excrement within a 500 metre radius of the hive and can cause a nuisance to neighbours. The colour of the excrement depends on the pollen sources the bees are foraging on but is typically yellow to brown. The excrement may be hard to remove from clothing, vehicles and buildings.


Hives can be re-positioned on the property or rotated so that flight paths can be encouraged in a direction away from neighbouring properties.

Additional guidelines

For advice on how to comply with the Keeping of Bees Control, contact your local beekeeping club, the National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand, or Auckland Council. Auckland Council advises every person wishing to keep bees in an urban area to participate in a beekeeping course. Further information on beekeeping can be obtained from the National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand guidelines “Starting with Bees” or by contacting the association. Educational workshops and advice are also provided by the Auckland Beekeeper’s Club, Franklin Beekeepers Club, and Rodney Beekeepers Club.

Consideration should be given to livestock near the apiary as well as in neighbouring properties. Beehives in paddocks with livestock should be protected from being disrupted by livestock and aggravating the bees. Bee flight paths should also be managed to protect livestock from the risk of bee stings.


Food for bees

An adequate food source for bees is important for bee nutrition and preventing bee starvation. Bees rely on nectar and pollen for their food. Without adequate food sources bees can become weak or starve, are less able to resist diseases and pests, and cannot reproduce to build up strong colonies. The Trees for Bees programme aims to research bee-friendly plants and promote bee-friendly land management in order to provide adequate nutrition for bees in spring and autumn. For further information on bee-friendly plants visit the Trees for Bees NZ webpage at

As well as the need for public awareness of bee-friendly plants, beekeepers should prevent overcrowding and manage bee stocking rates. A stocking rate is about managing the number of hives in an apiary or in an area in relation to the carrying capacity of food sources for bees in the foraging environment. Bees forage in a radius of up to five kilometres from the hive, and having too many bees in a single area can cause competition between honeybee colonies.

Collection of bee swarms

Although beekeepers can undertake responsible bee management practices to minimise the occurrence of swarms, swarming is part of the natural reproductive and dispersal cycle of honey bees. Bees which have recently swarmed are generally not inclined to sting unless provoked, as they are gorged full of honey and are homeless, which reduces their defensive behavior. Swarms that have been confined by bad weather to the same bush or tree for several days may be more aggressive.

If a bee swarm is sighted, members of the public should not attempt to remove the swarm themselves, but arrange to have the swarm removed by a local beekeeper. To find a local beekeeper call your local beekeeping club, the National Beekeepers Association of New Zealand, or the Auckland Council call centre on 09 301 0101.

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