Log in links for this page

Honey Bee FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Honey Bees in Massachusetts

Can I bring my honey bees into Massachusetts?

  • Yes, but 48 hours advance notification and a State-Issued Health Certificate is required. Honey bee colonies, nucleus colonies (nucs), packages, used or second-hand equipment, honeycombs, frames and other used beekeeping equipment can be shipped or transported into the Massachusetts but must be accompanied with a health certificate indicating the material was inspected from the state of origin within 60 days prior to shipment and that it is free of infectious or contagious disease. If you are bringing in queen bees only, then notification and documentation is not required. Use the online MDAR Shipment Notification of Honey Bees and Beekeeping Equipment form to notify the state about the shipment. Contact the Chief Apiary Inspector if you have additional questions.


Do I need a permit to keep honey bees in Massachusetts?

  • At this time, a permit is not required by the state, but could be required by your local town/city. Contact your local Board of Health and/or Town Offices to get more information about local requirements.


How do I register my honey bee colonies in Massachusetts?


Can I move my honey bees to another state?

  • Yes, but most states require a health inspection and certificate for incoming colonies, hive boxes and/or any other used equipment ensuring the material is free of infectious or contagious disease agents and certain pests. Please note that you can request an inspection by completing the MDAR Apiary Inspection Request Form.


How far in advance should I schedule an inspection of my apiary?

  • Inspections can be requested at any time, but advance notice of at least 30 days is preferred. Given the volume of inspection requests received by the MDAR Apiary Program each year, requests will be limited to two (2) per season/per apiary/colony(ies) unless emergency circumstances arise (i.e. suspected American Foulbrood, Pesticide Related Bee Kill or sudden colony death).


Can I sell my locally collected honey in Massachusetts?

  • Yes, but you must comply with the law relating to honey labeling and any local ordinances. Contact your local Board of Health and/or Town Offices to get more information about local requirements. Learn more about honey producers in Massachusetts and consider listing yourself as a honey producer on the MassGrown map.


How do I get help for a swarm of honey bees?

  • The MDAR Apiary Program does not remove and/or relocate honey bee swarms. Instead of harming the bees, try to get them safely rehomed by getting assistance from beekeepers in your area through the local honey beekeeping association.



Are there state laws that permit or prohibit beekeeping or apiary establishment in Massachusetts?

  • There are no state laws or regulations that permit or prohibit beekeeping. To learn more check out the Massachusetts state laws and regulations that pertain to honey bees and beekeeping. There may be local rules or ordinances for your town/city that pertain to honey beekeeping so inquire with your local government office to learn more. To learn more about the basics of apiary establishment, check out these Best Management guides from the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association and the Honey Bee Health Coalition.


Who do I contact to file a complaint against my neighbor who has setup an apiary next door?

  • The MDAR Apiary Program does not handle neighbor complaints about honey bees or established apiaries. Contact your local town/city government office get additional support.


How do I get help to remove a colony of honey bees inside my house or associated structure?


How do I become a honey beekeeper and start an apiary?


Are there state funded sources of financial assistance to create an apiary and become a beekeeper?

  • There is no funded financial assistance available for those interested in starting an apiary or becoming a beekeeper. However, we have a MDAR Apiary Program that provides a myriad of support options for new beekeepers as part of the program services. 


Who do I contact to file a complaint about honey bees in my pool?

  • The MDAR Apiary Program does not handle complaints about honey bees in pools. Contact your local town/city government office to get additional support.