Bee Keeping

Australia's honey bees play a crucial in maintaining our food security. Bees are subject to disease, so it's extremely important that high biosecurity standards are maintained.

Increasingly, owners or occupiers want to keep hives on their residential properties to provide honey. Beehives and beekeepers must be registered with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), and a certificate and Unique Brand Identifier will be issued. This must be printed on all beekeeping equipment.

For more information on bee keeping registration requirements in Western Australia please visit the DPIRD website.

There is also an amateur bee keeping association you can join - Western Australia Apiarist Society.

Guidelines for keeping bees in the City

In accordance with the City's Health Local Law 2004, to keep bees on private property you must have the written permission of the City's Health Services.

The conditions for keeping of bees on private property are as follows:

  • Provide a permanent water supply near the hives
  • Keep the hive at least:
    • 10 metres from any building
    • 10 metres from any footpath, private street/laneway, or public place
    • 5 metres from the lot boundaries
  • Enclose the hive on all sides by a fence, wall or other enclosure. 

Selling honey and honeycomb

In Western Australia, if you wish to sell any food (even in small quantities such as honey), you will need to notify the City's Health Services and register as a food business under the Food Act 2008.  An Environmental Health Officer will complete a desktop assessment and then contact you for an inspection of the set-up, honey transfer and bottling process. Once approved you will be issued a Food Act certificate of registration. For more information of food business registrations please visit the City's food business page.

Things to consider when selling honey or honeycomb:

  • Ensure you have an adequate cleaning and sanitising procedure in place for all food contact equipment such as jars or containers, bench tops, utensils. Cleaning and sanitising are two different things so it's important to understand what they mean. For more information of cleaning and sanitising refer to Appendix 6 of Food Standards Australia New Zealand's (FSANZ) Safe Food Australia or their Infobite article
  • Maintain good personal hygiene:
    • wash your hands before commencing food handling with warm soapy water and drying with a paper towel
    • wear clean clothes
    • tie long hair back
    • ensure you do not handle food if you are unwell
    • cover any wounds
    • ensure you don't cough or sneeze over food
    • for more information refer to the FSANZ website on health and hygiene for food handlers
  • No pets or children are permitted in the food handling area to reduce the chances contamination
  • Food handlers are required to have adequate skills and knowledge appropriate to their duties. The City offers free online FoodSafe training - if you are interested please email mail@vincent.wa.gov.au with a list of names and you will be sent a code to access the website
  • Ensure your products are labelled correctly, particularly when selling thorough a third party such as a supermarket. There are different requirements depending from where you sell your products and what your product is. For more information on labelling visit the FSANZ website

Bee swarms

Bee activity noticeably increases during spring and into early summer time. Due to lack of space and increase in nectar production, the old queen will leave the hive in search of a new home, and bring with her some of the bees so they can scout for a new place to settle. This means the new queen can remain in the previous hive and continue the life cycle.

Swarms can often be seen in a ball formation on tree branches, around eaves, letterboxes, bins, trees or a water source. They are harmless unless provoked and will generally move on after a few hours but can remain for a few days. Once they choose their new home they will quickly being making the comb. Unfortunately for humans, sometimes this can be in an inconvenient location. 

For more information on the swarming process please visit the Western Australian Apiarist Society website.

Nuisance bees

If bees have settled in an unwanted location, they can be removed without harming the bees. 

Bees on private property:

Private property is the area behind your letterbox and verge line. Bees on private property should be dealt with by the owner/occupier of the property by calling a bee removalist or swarm catcher. There is a contact list on the WAAS website.

A pest control company can also be used, but it is not the preferred method to kill bees as they are important to Australia's food security. 

If there are nuisance bees on a neighbouring property, the City recommends having a friendly chat to your neighbour in the first instance. If they don't respond or you cannot contact them, then you can contact the City's Health Services by making a request in writing to mail@vincent.wa.gov.au.

Bees on Council property:

Council property Includes:

  • verges
  • parks
  • public right of ways
  • footpaths (except Main Roads road reserves)

If the bees are causing a nuisance in these areas, the City will arrange for the removal of the bees. Please contact the City's Parks Technical Officer by email to mail@vincent.wa.gov.au and attach photos of the location.