What rules or regulations govern beekeeping in Ontario?
The Ontario Bees Act regulates beekeeping in Ontario.
Do I need to register my Honeybees?
Yes, all beekeepers in Ontario are required to register their bees with OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs). It is a legal requirement. There is no cost to register, and it entitles you to the services of a Provincial Bee Inspector
I live in the city, can I still keep bees?
Urban Beekeeping is widely practiced, either in residential backyards or on rooftops. The Bees Act stipulates that honeybee colonies must be placed 30 meters away from the property line of a property that is “occupied as a dwelling or used for a community center, public park or other place of public assembly or recreation”. However many apiaries, both urban and rural, are not in compliance with this rule. Enforcement of this rule generally occurs only when complaints are made.
I have young children and/or a dog, is it safe to have a beehive in my yard?
Yes. Honeybees are actually quite gentle, and will only sting when they feel their lives or the safety of their hive is at risk. Unlike wasps, hornets, and other stinging insects, a honeybee will die after stinging a human or dog, so it truly is a ‘last resort’ behaviour. We prioritize gentleness when breeding our bees, and can help you choose an appropriate location for your beehive to ensure their needs do not conflict with the enjoyment of your outdoor space. Having a beehive can be a great opportunity to educate your kids, friends, and neighbours about the important role of pollinators. Plus it can be very relaxing to just watch the bees come and go!
How much time is required to care for a beehive?
The time required depends on the time of year. For most of the year you only need to open up the hive every two weeks or so, spending about an hour per hive check. Harvesting your honey will be the biggest job of the year, which will take about a day. More important than the overall amount of time, is making sure that you provide attention at the right time!
How much honey can a hive make?
The current average for a hive in Ontario is ~90 pounds per year. This will vary based on location and weather for the year, as well as the strength of your colony. If you are starting with a nucleus colony, you may not make any surplus honey in the first year. After the first year you should be able to harvest anywhere from 50-150lbs. of honey from a single colony.
What are the benefits of beekeeping?
The beehive and its products have a long history of therapeutic use. Just opening up and going through a beehive is a type of ‘working meditation’, since it requires you to quiet your mind and focus all your senses on what is happening in the hive. Learning about and observing the bees at work will help you feel more connected to natural world.
Bees can also perform a valuable role in pollinating the fruits, vegetable, and flowers in your garden, which will improve both the quantity and quality of yields. And of course there is all the wonderful surplus honey, pollen, wax, and propolis that you can harvest from a beehive. Each of these products has its own unique benefits for your health and well-being.
- Register your bees with OMAFRA, it’s the law! Click Here
- The Ontario Bees Act regulates beekeeping in Ontario
- The Ontario Beekeepers Association advocates for Ontario beekeepers, and offers affordable Group Liability Insurance