Will North Dakota Legislators deliver on bee issues?

The 64th North Dakota State Legislative Assembly is well underway now as the law makers discuss what new laws are needed and which laws need amending.


Posted on 1/31/15

By Melissa Anderson

There are numerous laws being proposed as well as amendments but there are four acts of legislation pertaining to the honeybee industry, with three addressing concerns raised by local farmers prior to the legislative session.

The main legislation is SB 2025 introduced by the Agriculture Committee, aims to create and enact a new chapter of the North Dakota Century Code (4.1-16) relating to beekeeping, amend and reenact section 4.1-08-03 of the North Dakota Century Code that pertains to the submission of assessments by beekeepers and to repeal chapter 4-12.2 of the North Dakota Century Code which is the current legislation relating to beekeeping. This will be the third time that legislation relating to the honeybee industry in North Dakota will have its laws significantly reworked.

The new legislation of SB 2025 has some significant reworking’s of the laws pertaining to the handling, licensing, penalties, and powers of the agricultural commissioner over this new agroindustry.

A notable change in proposed law is the grounds for denial of a beekeepers license, which is not included in current laws.  The grounds for the agricultural commissioner to deny a beekeeping license include repeated violations of beekeeping laws, failure to pay an adjudicated civil penalty for violating this beekeeping laws within the thirty days allotted after a final determination is made or if the applicant has provided false or misleading information in connection with any application or notification required by the state laws.

The requirements for identification of apiaries were also addressed in the proposed legislation with a significant increase in size of lettering for the information of the beekeeper. The proposed legislation increases the size of lettering from the current inch and half to three inches and a line thickness of a half an inch. The lettering must be done in contrast to the affixed hive and must also be visible from the entrance to the apiary.

The proposed legislation also more clearly defines the terms for seizure of unidentified apiaries as well as the agricultural commissioner’s powers in regards to assisting and executing the laws pertaining to beekeepers and honey industry.

The most significant statue in the proposed legislation is that of an individual now being able to petition the agriculture commissioner for an order requiring the relocation of an apiary. The grounds for this petition are if the individual resides on land neighboring that on which the beekeeper has placed an apiary or/and the individual’s health or welfare is endangered as a result of the apiary’s location.

The agricultural commissioner could refuse the petition however, if the moving of the apiary would negatively affect level of honey production anticipated at its current location or if the land owner/leasee does not agree to the moving of the apiary. The agricultural commissioner could also assign the fees of moving the apiary to the petitioner if the beekeeper can demonstrate that labor costs will be incurred as a result of an order issued under this section as well.

The other law that addresses some of the concerns raised by area farmers is HB1236. Under this legislation a beekeeper could not place a hive within two miles of an occupied residence unless they obtain written consent for the location and placement of the hive and file said statement with the agricultural commissioner. This same legislation does not allow a hive to be placed within two miles of a residential facility, school, or daycare.

If a beekeeper is found to have violated this legislation, the beekeeper has 48 hours within being notified to remove their hives and equipment. If the owner of the hives cannot be found the hives will be confiscated and disposed of in accordance of a court order or the administrative order issued by the commissioner.

The issue of applying pesticide in the vicinity of bees has also created proposed legislation in the form of SB 2228.  Under this proposed legislation as a condition of licensure, a beekeeper must sign a statement agreeing to confine or relocate bees within twenty-four hours when notified by a pesticide applicator that spraying will occur within two miles of their apiary.

If the applicator is unable to contact a beekeeper or if the beekeeper is unable or unwilling to confine or relocate their bees, as required by this proposed legislation, the applicator must notify the agriculture commissioner. The agriculture commissioner will then take steps to contract for the relocation or confinement of the bees. The beekeeper must reimburse the commissioner for any costs incurred by the commissioner in contracting for the relocation or confinement of the bees under this legislation.

All of the proposed legislation pertaining to the bee industry has yet to be voted on.