The Beekeeper and the Law
These very brief notes are intended to make a beekeeper aware of his/her legal responsibilities. They are intended solely introductory guidance; they are not comprehensive. If in doubt consult the relevant legal authorities or take legal advice or download the leaflets available from the BBKA website
Ownership of Bees
If your bees swarm onto somebody else's property, provided you keep them in sight they remain your property. However you may not enter somebody else's property to recover them until you have obtained the property owner's permission. To enter without permission would be trespass and you could be liable in a civil court.
Assuming you have the permission of the land owner and/or his representative to recover a swarm, you should not cut branches or dismantle parts of a building without first obtaining permission to do so. Attention is drawn to the Association's Swarm Collection Protocol . If you charge a fee then any insurance will be invalidated.
You have a legal responsibility to manage your bees in such a way that you do not cause harm to others. Wherever your apiary is, you have a duty to warn anybody who approaches it that there a hazard i.e. live bees, even if it is in you own back garden. You still have to post warnings such that a trespasser would be aware of the bees, otherwise your insurance may be invalid. It is also your responsibility when sighting an apiary to ensure that the bees do not cause a nuisance to other people, that is to say interfere with their enjoyment of their property.
Processing & Selling Honey
All honey processing must be conducted in hygienic conditions (the average domestic kitchen would generally fall into this category). The containers used should clean and manufactured from food grade polythene and/or stainless steel. All bottles should be washed and sterilised before use. New lids should always be used. Labels must comply with the current legislation which may be summarised as follows:
1. The weight of honey for sale must clearly state the weight in metric and then imperial units. Example '454g 1lb ';
2. Illustrations must not be misleading;
3. Description must not be misleading and must describe the contents of the Jar accurately;
4. The beekeepers name and address must be printed on the label;
5. There must be a lot number so that you can identify which batch of honey went into which jar;
6. 'Produce of UK' must appear on the label;
7. A Best Before date (2 years is suggested)
BDBKA will only publish members names as suppliers of honey after the quality a members honey has been checked at the Annual Honey Show.