Chapter 8.94


8.94.010    Policy and Purpose.

8.94.020    Definitions.

8.94.030    Beekeeping – Maintenance of Colonies.

8.94.040    Hive Placement.

8.94.050    Nuisance Declared.

8.94.060    Enforcement and Entry – Right of Entry for Inspection.

8.94.070    Violation – Penalty.

8.94.080    Severability.

Cross references: Chapter 15.60 RCW, Chapter 8.08 PCC

8.94.010 Policy and Purpose.

A.    It is the declared policy of this County to enhance and encourage beekeeping and agricultural pollination operations within the County. It is the further intent of this County to provide to the residents of this County proper notification of the County's recognition and support, through this Chapter, of those persons' and/or entities' rights to keep bees, and to set forth concomitant responsibilities in beekeeping.

B.    Where non-agricultural land uses extend into agricultural areas or exist side by side, beekeeping occasionally becomes the subject of nuisance complaints. It is an intent of this Chapter to clarify the circumstances under which beekeeping shall be considered a nuisance.

C.    Further it is intended that this Chapter is supplemental to, and not in conflict with, the provisions of Chapter 15.60 RCW.

(Ord. 95-11 § 1 (part), 1995; Ord. 94-108 § 1 (part), 1994)

8.94.020 Definitions.

As used in this Chapter, the following definitions shall apply.

A.    "Abandoned hive(s)" means any hive with or without bees, that evidences a lack of being properly managed in that it has not been supered in the spring, except nucs, or unsupered in the fall, or is otherwise not managed and/or left without authorization on the property of another, or on public land.

B.    "Apiary" means a site where hives of bees or hives are kept or found.

C.    "Colony" means a natural group of bees having a queen(s).

D.    "Fence" means any obstruction through which bees will not readily fly.

E.    "Health Department" means the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

F.    "Hive(s)" means a manufactured receptacle or container prepared for the use of bees, including movable frames, combs, and substances deposited into the hive by bees.

G.    "Honey bee(s)" means any life stages of the species Apis Mellifera.

H.    "Sheriff" means the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.

(Ord. 95-11 § 1 (part), 1995; Ord. 94-108 § 1 (part), 1994)

8.94.030 Beekeeping – Maintenance of Colonies.

A.    Honey bee colonies shall be maintained in the following condition:

1.    All honey bee hives shall be registered with the Washington State Department of Agriculture and comply with Chapter 15.60 RCW and Rules adopted thereunder.

2.    Colonies shall be maintained in movable-frame hives, unless exempted by the Washington State Department of Agriculture as an educational exhibit.

3.    Adequate handling techniques, such as requeening, should be employed, and adequate space in the hive should be maintained to minimize swarming.

4.    Apiaries shall be managed and kept in a clean and orderly condition.

5.    An apiary(s) shall be marked in full compliance with WAC 16-602-040.

B.    It shall be the duty of any person having honey bees on his or her property to prevent diseased hives as defined in RCW 15.60.005(13) and (16).

C.    1.    The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department shall refer complaints of possible violations of Chapter 15.60 RCW to the State Department of Agriculture.

2.    The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department shall consult with the State Department of Agriculture on concerns regarding the maintenance of honey bee colonies.

(Ord. 95-11 § 1 (part), 1995; Ord. 94-108 § 1 (part), 1994)

8.94.040 Hive Placement Requirements.

Hives in all areas of Pierce County shall adhere to the following:

A.    Hives shall be at least 25 feet from a property line, with the hive(s) entrance(s) facing away from or parallel to the nearest property line.

B.    Hives may be less than 25 feet from a property line if placed behind a 6-foot high fence, which shall extend at least 25 feet beyond the hive(s) in both directions. The fence shall direct bee flight into the air at least six feet before the bees cross the property line. The fence or obstruction may occur on the adjoining property, provided that bee flight is not directed in the vicinity of recreational decks or entrances to housing or buildings on adjoining properties. In lieu of a fence, the hive(s) may be placed at least eight feet above adjacent ground level, provided that all other requirements of this Section are met.

C.    A hive(s) adjacent to public roads shall comply with A. and B. so as to direct bee flight at least 20 feet into the air over the road surface. In lieu of this requirement, a hive(s) shall be placed at least 100 feet from the road rights-of-way, with the entrance(s) parallel thereto.

D.    The number of hives within urban residential areas shall be limited as follows:

Parcel Size (Square footage)

# Hives

6,000 to 10,000


10,001 to 20,000


20,001 to 43,560 (.46 to 1 acre)


Exception: Residential limitations shall not apply when a parcel is contiguous to an open area, such as, but not limited to, wetlands, fish and game preserves and/or hatcheries, and military reservations. Such open areas shall be at least two acres in size.

E.    The number of hives may not be restricted on parcels of land over one acre in size;

1.    During times of the year when there is minimal bee flight or activity (October – March); or

2.    The parcel is in a rural or agricultural area; or

3.    The hives with bees are being used for agricultural crop pollination; and

4.    A public nuisance is not created; and

5.    All other requirements of this Chapter are met.

F.    In addition to the above production hives, a person may maintain a minimum of one, or up to 10 percent of their production hives, of single-story Langstrogh deep hives with colonies, in each apiary, for requeening purposes. Such hives shall conform to all placement and management requirements and restrictions.

G.    A consistent source of water shall be provided as appropriate at the apiary. This requirement is intended to discourage bee visitation at swimming pools, hose bibs, animal watering sources, bird baths, or where people congregate.

(Ord. 95-11 § 1 (part), 1995; Ord. 94-108 § 1 (part), 1994)

8.94.050 Nuisance Declared.

It shall be the duty of all persons keeping hives of honey bees or having other stinging insects as described below, in or upon their property or premises, to prevent the following:

A.    Colonies of bees which are defensive or exhibit objectionable behavior, or which interfere with the normal use of property, or the enjoyment of persons, animals, or adjacent property.

B.    Hives of bees which do not conform to PCC 8.94.040.

C.    An abandoned hive(s).

D.    All other nests (colonies) of stinging insects such as yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps which exhibit objectionable behavior or interfere with normal use of property, or the enjoyment of persons, animals, or adjacent property.

E.    All nests, hives, or colonies of Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera Scutellata), except those which are permitted under RCW 15.60.140.

Each of the above described conditions shall constitute a nuisance pursuant to PCC 8.08.010, and shall be abated by the Health Department, pursuant to PCC 8.08.040, et seq.

(Ord. 95-11 § 1 (part), 1995; Ord. 94-108 § 1 (part), 1994)

8.94.060 Enforcement and Entry – Right of Entry for Inspection.

The Health Department and the Sheriff shall enforce this Chapter. (Ord. 95-11 § 1 (part), 1995; Ord. 94-108 § 1 (part), 1994)

8.94.070 Violation – Penalty.

A.    Any person, firm, or corporation in violation of any provision of this Chapter, shall, upon conviction thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor, and be punished by imprisonment in the County jail for a maximum term fixed by the court of not more than 90 days, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of not more than $1,000.00, or by both such imprisonment and fine.

B.    Any violation of any provision of this Chapter shall constitute a class 1 civil infraction pursuant to PCC 1.16.120. Authorized officials of the Health Department shall issue notices of civil infraction to enforce the provisions of this Chapter, effective upon the date of amendment of the Health Department interlocal agreement granting such authority.

(Ord. 95-11 § 1 (part), 1995; Ord. 94-108 § 1 (part), 1994)

8.94.080 Severability.

If any provision of this Chapter or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the Chapter or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected. (Ord. 95-11 § 1 (part), 1995; Ord. 94-108 § 1 (part), 1994)