Urban Gardening - what about keeping bees in my backyard in Fairfax County?

By
Real Estate Agent with Soldsense - your sixth sense in real estate

beekeeping imageSo, I am fascinated with backyard vegetable gardening and animal keep these days. Having found out that my lot is too small to keep chickens, I am very happy to report that it seems I am allowed to keep up to 4 hives of bees on my 0.125 acre lot! 

Beekeeping is a time honored tradition running back to before 2422 BCE according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beekeeping.) As part of the urban gardening renaissance, beekeeping will likely make a comeback in urban areas, including Northern Virginia (well, not according to a 2005 article in the Washington Post...) Over the last few years I have run into people keeping bees in their backyard quite a few times and always wondered how that could be legal.

So, why a beehive? Well, it seems like a great idea as it helps pollinate flowers and fruit in the area - in return you may get lovely delicious honey (which brings me to another topic for a future blog entry - where did all the fruit trees in suburbia go?) 

So, the rules!!!

Fairfax County
The keeping of honeybees in four (4) beehives or less shall be allowed
as an accessory use on any lot. On any lot of 10,000 square feet in size
or larger, more than four (4) beehives may be kept, provided there is an
additional lot area of 2500 square feet for each hive. In all instances,
there shall be one (1) adequate and accessible water source provided on
site and located within fifty (50) feet of the beehive(s). In addition,
if the landing platform of a hive faces and is within ten (10) feet of
any lot line, there shall be a flight path barrier, consisting of a
fence, structure or plantings not less than six (6) feet in height,
located in front of the hive.

Alexandria and Arlington
No specific rules - apparently.

Prince William County
Supposedly the same as Fairfax County according to this article.

Now, I do not know if HOA rules will supersede this. The Prince William County article says you can keep bees HOA restrictions non-withstanding. Not sure if that is true or if it applies to other jurisdictions.

If you are interested in beekeeping, check out the location beekeeping association at http://www.beekeepersnova.org . Now, go get that Langstroth hive!

 

Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
Virginia Fairfax County
Tags:
urban gardening
fairfax county
beekeeping

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Ambassador
1,772,375
Cindy Jones
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News
CJ Realty Group, Inc.

You can have bee boxes without having big hives around their yard and they won't violate HOA rules.  Here is one in my daughter's yard.Bee Nesting Box

July 23, 2010 07:50 AM
Rainmaker
210,324
Yvette Chisholm
Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.

Are, my math may be off - but if your lot is .125 of an acre -  you might not meet the Fairfax County rules.  Very good information!

July 23, 2010 07:50 AM
Rainer
36,188
Are Andresen
Northern Virginia Real Estate
Soldsense - your sixth sense in real estate

Wendy - I was thinking about liability as well. I figured one should speak to the closest neighbors and make sure nobody has a bee allergy at a minimum. It is rare that people get stung by bees just flying around based on what I read. But, always the worry that neighbor kids could get into the yard and tipping over the hive out of curiosity/accident.

Cindy - that is a great alternative for pollination. I don't believe you get any honey from those though.

Yvette - my understanding was that on any lot you could have up to 4 hives. The 2,500 sq/ft requirement only kicks in for lots over 10,000 sq/ft. Or am I reading it wrong?

July 23, 2010 08:07 AM
Rainmaker
210,324
Yvette Chisholm
Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.

Ari, I was reading 4 or more....seems unusual to allow 4 hives on any size lot...but I am sure that if you try to keep a few hives at your townhouse...the POA/HOA will have something to say...

July 24, 2010 07:04 AM
Rainer
36,188
Are Andresen
Northern Virginia Real Estate
Soldsense - your sixth sense in real estate

Yvette, yea, I don't think that would be popular either. However, people do keep bees in Washington DC with small yards and on rooftops - so I guess it is possible without totally freaking out the neighbors. For example, check out http://citybees.blogspot.com/ for someone keeping bees on their Washington DC roofdeck!

Also, with my limited beekeeping knowledge, I do believe beekeepers split and join hives throughout the season so they need to be able to have more than one hive.

July 24, 2010 11:44 PM
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Rainer
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Are Andresen

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