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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 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. Health certificate/permit documents must be submitted to the Chief Apiary Inspector.


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.