Overview of Beekeeping Regulations in Ontario: What you should know if you own honey bees
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The Ontario Bees Act is the legislation that regulates honey bees and beekeeping in Ontario. The main purpose of the act is to protect the health of honey bees, particularly from pests and diseases.
The main requirements of the Ontario Bees Act, as well as requirements for the safe production of honey under the Food Safety and Quality Act, are summarized here for beekeepers' convenience (see figure 1).
This overview is provided as information only. For a comprehensive set of requirements please visit:
Figure 1. Honey bees and honey
Figure 3. Apiary Inspectors active in the field
Anyone who owns or is in possession of honey bees must register annually with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). There is no charge for registration. As part of the registration beekeepers are required to identify the location of beeyards and the number of honey bee colonies. Please visit our website for information on honey bee registration.
Apiary Inspectors - Inspections
As honey bees may fly up to 8 km from their colony and from one colony to another, diseases can easily spread from a diseased colony to healthy colonies (figure 2). Honey bee pests and diseases may also be spread through the movement or sales of honey bees or used beekeeping equipment.
Apiary inspectors are appointed under the Bees Act and their duties include inspection for the presence of honey bee diseases and pests, and issuing permits to beekeepers. Apiary inspectors can inspect all honey bee colonies by instruction of the Provincial Apiarist , request of the beekeeper or at the discretion of the Apiary Inspector (figure 3).
A Provincial Apiarist is appointed under the Bees Act. The Provincial Apiarist is responsible for health and disease issues of honey bees in Ontario.
A list of regional apiary inspectors is provided on our website.
Selling and Purchasing Honey Bees - Required Permits
Beekeepers must obtain a permit when:
For more information on permits please visit our website or contact the Apiculture Program. Contact information provided below.
Reporting Pests and Diseases
Beekeepers must report all cases of the disease American Foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae) (figure 4) and the pest Small Hive Beetle (Aethina tumida) (figure 5) to the Apiculture Program. It is unlawful to conceal the presence of these honey bee pests and diseases. Beekeepeers are encouraged to inform inspectors of any symptoms of pests and diseases in honey bee colonies that are not typical (Sections 9 and 10).
Figure 4. American Foulbrood
Figure 5. Adult small hive beetle
The act requires all hives to have movable frames. This is important because it allows inspectors and the beekeeper to access the brood nest of the hive to monitor for disease and pests in the honey bee colony. (Section 6).
Disposal of Dead Colonies
Dead honey bee colonies and used equipment must not be abandoned or left exposed where they can be accessed by healthy, foraging honey bees (Section 15).
Signs and Postings
Beekeepers are required to post a sign with their name and address at each beeyard (Section 8 (2)).
Honey bee colonies cannot be placed within 30 metres of a property line separating the land on which the hives are placed, or left from land occupied as a dwelling or used for a community centre, public park or other place of public assembly or recreation.
Hives, with or without bees, cannot be located within 10 metres of a highway (Section 19).
Treatments for Honey Bee Diseases
A list of all available, legally registered treatments for the management of honey bee pests and diseases is updated annually by the Apiculture Program and is provided in the document "Ontario Treatment Recommendations for Honey Bee Disease and Mite Control".
Figure 6. Sampling for varroa levels in honeybee colonies is important.
Requirements for the Safe Production of Honey
Ontario Regulation 119/11, Produce, Honey and Maple Products under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 came into effect on July 1, 2011. It replaced Regulation 384, Honey, under the Farm Products Grades and Sales Act.
Ontario Regulation 119/11 regulates the grading, packaging, labelling, transporting, advertising and sale of honey, and applies to honey not otherwise subject to the federal Canada Agricultural Products Act.
The requirements for honey include the following:
For more information:
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