Latrobe City Regulations on Keeping Bees

So you want to keep bees as a hobby within Latrobe City?

Pretty simple really as long as you adhere to Agriculture Victoria guidelines for the keeping of bees as a hobby you satisfy the needs of keeping bees as a hobby in Latrobe City.

For more information check out the following webpage:

Agriculture Victoria

In particular take note of the following:

Legal requirements for keeping bees in Victoria

Honeybees like other live stock don’t just look after themselves. Once the decision has been made to keep bees, the beekeeper has a legal and moral obligation to maintain the bees in a healthy state and in such a way that they do not become a nuisance to other people. The bees must be kept in accordance with the terms of the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 and the Apiary Code of Practice 1997.

Registration as a beekeeper

The Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 requires anyone who owns one or more hives of bees to register as a beekeeper with the department. The current annual fee are as follows:

  • where a person keeps at least 1 but not more than 5 hives, register online for free.
  • where a person keeps at least 1 but not more than 5 hives, register and pay using application form for $30.00
  • where a person keeps at least 6 but not more than 50 hives, register and pay using application form for $30.00
  • where a person keeps 51 or more hives, register and pay using application form for 60 cents per hive.

The department will routinely forward application forms for renewal of registration to all registered beekeepers.

A registration number is allotted to a beekeeper when registering for the first time. It is compulsory to brand (by painting or firebrand) this number on each of your hives.

For more information about registration and the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994, refer to the Agriculture Note AG1100 Beekeeping and the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994.

Apiary Code of Practice 1997

The prime aim of the Apiary Code of Practice is to ensure that beekeeping does not become a nuisance to people. The Code describes a number of standards for the placement and management of hives throughout Victoria.

In brief, beekeeping activities within Victoria may be conducted without a planning permit provided the activity complies with the requirements of the Code. If the requirements of the Code cannot be met, a planning permit must be obtained from the local government council before beekeeping is commenced on the property.

The Code requires beekeepers to:

  • manage colonies to prevent or minimise swarming
  • capture swarms that have left a colony they own
  • provide water on the property where the bees are located if they don’t have access to water
  • maintain colonies located in urban areas with young docile queens
  • store used hive components not housing bees in such a way that bees cannot gain entry to it
  • prevent or minimise activities of robber bees
  • observe hive density limits for properties in urban areas
  • ensure bee flight paths don’t interfere with neighbouring land
  • place hives greater than three metres from a property boundary fence. This does not apply if a bee proof barrier, not less than two metres high, is situated on the boundary fence line adjacent to the hives. A bee proof barrier is not required where the adjoining property to that fence is unimproved land.

General points for urban beekeeping

Keeping bees in urban areas requires good management skills, otherwise the bees can have a negative impact on those who live close by.

Hives are best placed in a sunny but sheltered spot.

Always position the hives so that the bees do not become troublesome to neighbours. Always comply with the Apiary Code of Practice.

Do not place hives in the front yard where bees only have to cross a low fence before mingling with a passer-by that may happen to cross the flight-path of the bees. Always remember that some people are extremely sensitive to bee venom. If a passer by receives an accidental sting, or even a bee in the hair, any beehives nearby will be blamed.

Water supply

Provide a good water supply for the bees in a partially shaded position where possible, and in close proximity to the hives. Never assume that the colony will satisfy its water requirements without your help. A strong colony of bees will use over a litre of water on a warm day.

Have the water supply in place before the hives are introduced to the area, otherwise the bees will become accustomed to watering where they are not wanted and it will be difficult to change their habits.

Containers of water should have floating material (corks, polystyrene foam, sticks) in the water to provide a landing platform and so reduce the risk of the bees drowning. An alternative is to provide trays of damp sand and fine gravel to provide a beach effect for the bees. The water level may be topped up by having water slowly drip from a container situated somewhat above the tray. A boardman feeder fitted to the hive entrance may also be used to provide water. However, the feeder does require daily attention to replace water used by the bees. Bees sometimes prefer water that is slightly salty.

Maintain a quiet strain of bee

Aggressive colonies should be requeened with a gentle strain. However, a number of factors should be considered before deciding if a colony is aggressive by nature. Seasonal conditions and the skill level of the apiarist can affect bee behaviour and aggression. Factors include the way a hive is approached and opened, the way combs are handled, the use and quantity of smoke, the type of flora and the amount of nectar flow in progress, the type of clothing worn and the time of day. All of these factors should be considered before deciding that a colony is too aggressive and requeening is necessary.

Neighbourly responsibilities

Most non-beekeepers find being in the vicinity of a swirling swarm of bees a frightening experience.

Practice proven swarm control methods, but if your bees do swarm collect them quickly to prevent their establishment in your neighbour’s house or tree. Some beekeepers choose to collect swarms in neighbouring properties even they though know the swarm did not issue the hives they manage.

Keep good relations by sharing a little honey over the fence from time to time. Stress the value of bee pollination in fruit and other crops.

Loss of interest

Many of the critical management tasks are overlooked when a beekeeper has lost interest or no longer has the time to put into the management of the bees.

Neglected hives may become diseased and be a source of infection to colonies nearby. They may also swarm causing serious public relation implications for the beekeeper and the honey bee industry. It is far better to dispose of the hives to someone who can look after them properly.

The department has a number of programs to help hobby and commercial beekeepers with the diagnosis and identification of honey bee diseases and pests. Call the Customer Service Centre on 136 186 for contact details of our apiary officers.