In January 2012, the City of San Diego amended its Municipal Code to allow residents of single-family homes, community gardens and retail farms to keep and maintain two beehives. The specific regulations are in Chapter 4, Article 4, Division 4 of the Municipal Code and can be found by downloading the following provision: Chapter 04, Article 04, Division 04, Beekeeping.
Where you locate your apiary is determined by the number of hives and several factors related to distance including zone setbacks.
For specific information regarding the zoning setback for your property, go to the Zoning Map application and type in your address. You will then receive the zone name for your property. A link to “More Info” takes you to another page that directs you to the regulations for your zone. When viewing the regulations, go to the Development Regulations Table for your zone and look up “Setback Requirements.”
You can also call the City’s Development Services Department at 619-446-5000, provide your address and request the name of your zone and the zoning setback information. Someone will return your call and provide you with the information.
- A beekeeper shall register the apiary with the San Diego County Agricultural Commissioner within 30 days of establishing the apiary.
- An apiary of three or more hives must be at least 600 feet from a building used as a residence and 100 feet from the public right-of-way.
- An apiary of one or two hives must be located outside of all setbacks, or 15 feet from the property line and 20 feet from the public right-of-way, whichever is greater.
- An apiary of one or two hives must do the following:
- Locate the beehive in a secured area.
- Re-queen the beehive every two years.
- Locate the beehive so that it is not visible from the public right-of-way.
- Surround the beehive with a 6-foot tall barrier unless it is at least 8 feet above the ground.
Beekeeping in the City of San Diego does not require a permit; however, as stated in the regulations, beekeepers are required to register their hives with the County of San Diego Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures.
Bees sting only to protect the hive.
They can fly 3 to 4 miles to collect nectar and pollen, but generally no more than 1 mile.
On average, a hive can produce approximately 25 pounds of honey in a season.
Worker bees live about 40 days. A queen bee can live up to five years, but for beekeeping purposes, a queen is passed her prime at three years. The regulations require that the beekeeper replace the queen every two years.
Not all, but most. Honey bees are responsible for at least a third of our food crops and even cotton crops. Other animals that pollinate include bats, butterflies and birds.
Additional information regarding keeping and maintaining bees can be found at the following websites:
- San Diego Public Library – Search the City’s Library catalog or visit your local library for free information about beekeeping.
- San Diego County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures – Learn about the Honey Bee Protection Program.
- San Diego Beekeeping Society – A local organization that educates and encourages responsible beekeeping.
- American Beekeeping Federation – A national organization that works in the interest of all beekeepers, large and small, and those associated with the beekeeping industry to ensure the future of honey bees.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Alternative Farming Systems Information Center – The USDA offers information on a variety of topics involving beekeeping.
- University of California Cooperative Extension - Beekeeping in San Diego County
- Africanized Honey Bees - City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department