Here’s the buzz on becoming a local beekeeper

Check out the rules and guidance for maintaining your own little hive of busy bees.

A beekeeper wearing a white bee suit observes one of their hives in a woodland area.

Maybe you can start a buzz-worthy fashion trend in your beekeeping fashion trend.

Photo by Frank Meriño

No need to move out to the countryside to adopt hundreds of your own fuzzy, buzzy pets. Much like chickens, the City of Seattle has a city code allowing residents to raise and take care of their very own beehives.

The estimated cost for starting your own hive ranges between $200 to $1,000. The rules are also relatively easy to manage, so let’s dive in — just bee-cause.

The rules

While bees are wonderful for the environment, too many unruly bees could lead to quite a sting. Both Seattle and King County have their own regulations to govern local hive maintenance. Here’s a quick overview of some of these rules.

In Seattle

  • Colonies need to be kept in movable frames.
  • Adequate room needs to be provided for the bees to prevent swarming or overcrowding.
  • If the bees swarm or get aggressive, you’ll need to replace the queen.
  • Any hives need to be registered with the Director of Agriculture.

In King County

  • You can have no more than 50 hives on a plot of land smaller than 5 acres, but you’re welcome to as many as you want if your land surpasses 5 acres..
  • Any hives need to be registered with the County Extension Agent and through a state registration form.

Other resources

If you’re looking to learn more about what it takes to keep your hundreds of little friends happy, check out these local resources:

  • Puget Sound Beekeepers Association: Join the beekeeping community, get recommendations for supply stores, meet your local neighborhood beekeeping captain, or take a class.
  • Host a hive: Interested in learning about beekeeping, but feel intimidated by the work? Rainy Day Bees allows locals to host a hive in their backyards that is tended to by a professional.
  • Swansons Nursery: Check out a list of pollinator-friendly plants and flowers to add to your garden (even if you don’t have a hive).