Rules and Regulations
South Carolina has laws and regulations that pertain to Honey Bees. These laws are designed to protect bees from diseases and pollinators from pesticide misuse. There also are regulations to protect the integrity and safety of honey.
Summary of laws pertaining to honey bees, apiaries and honey bee products.
- Keeping honey bee colonies in South Carolina
- There are no state regulations restricting who can keep honey bees in SC or how many colonies an individual can keep.
- There is no mandatory hive registry in SC. (There is a voluntary registry for the purposes of protecting apiaries from pesticide exposure, and beekeepers are encouraged to register hives in that system. Read more at “Protecting managed pollinators from pesticide exposure.”
- Local municipalities may restrict where honey bee colonies can be kept within their jurisdictions. Check with your town, city, and county about local zoning ordinances that may pertain to honey bee apiaries. Some Home or Property Owners Associations (HOAs/POAs) also may restrict keeping honey bees within their developments.
- Moving honey bees and used equipment across state lines.
- Honey bees are managed animals, and movement of them across state lines poses a risk of spreading infectious diseases (including Africanized bees).
- There are no state regulations restricting the movement of honey bees within South Carolina.
- State law (Title 46:Chapter 37) requires honey bee colonies and used hive equipment (“fixtures”) to be inspected prior to movement across state lines. Similar laws exist in all states in the U.S. in order to protect the nation’s beekeeping industry from spread of pests and disease.
- Honey bees being moved into South Carolina must be accompanied by a certificate of inspection issued by the regulatory agency in the state of origin. They also must have an entry permit issued by the SC Department of Plant Industry at Clemson University.
- Likewise, honey bees being moved out of South Carolina must be inspected by the Department of Plant Industry and determined to be free of disease and Africanization.
- Movement of honey bees into or out of SC without inspection and permit constitutes a misdemeanor and can result in fines or jail time.
- The Department of Plant Industry has the authority to enter apiaries in SC, determine if infectious diseases are present and require the destruction of colonies containing infected or Africanized bees.
- South Carolina’s State Apiary Inspection program is led by Brad Cavin. Visit https://www.clemson.edu/public/regulatory/plant-industry/honey-bee/index.html for detailed information about the Apiary Inspection Program.
- Selling Honey in South Carolina
- Processing and sale of honey in South Carolina is regulated by the SC Department of Agriculture. Visit https://agriculture.sc.gov/divisions/consumer-protection/food-safety-compliance/ for complete details and to download applications.
- All honey sold in SC must be packaged and labeled according to state and federal law (Fair Packaging and Labeling Act). Honey labels must be submitted to SCDA for approval prior to sale. Any honey sold without proper labeling is in violation and can be prevented from being sold. https://agriculture.sc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/HoneySalesGuide2019.pdf
- Facilities where honey is being extracted and packaged (“Honey Houses”) must be inspected by the SC Department of Agriculture to ensure product safety, and honey producers must obtain a “Registration Verification Certificate” prior to selling their honey. https://agriculture.sc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/RVCApplicationPacket2019.pdf
- Honey houses may be shared by multiple producers, but a shared honey house application must be submitted to the SCDA prior to shared use. https://agriculture.sc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SharedHoneyHouseApplication2019.pdf
- Small scale producers that produce less than 400 gallons of honey/year and sell directly to consumer may apply for the “Honey Exemption.” Honey producers that qualify for the exemption are not required to obtain the Registration Verification Certificate or to have their honey house inspected. https://agriculture.sc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/HoneyExemptionApplication.pdf
- The Clemson Apiculture Program suggests that all honey producers familiarize themselves with the requirements of an inspected honey house and follow the guidelines even if they qualify for the exemption. This will ensure safety for consumers of their honey products.
- Honey Bee and Pollinator Protection
- There are no laws in South Carolina that explicitly protect honey bees other than the import/export and disease inspection statutes detailed in Title 46:Chapter 37.
- Honey bees that colonize homes or structures and pose threat to the facility or its inhabitants can be destroyed, but the Clemson Apiculture program suggests contacting a local beekeeper to attempt removal before choosing to destroy the colony. Local beekeeper associations maintain lists of members who can remove colonies. https://scstatebeekeepers.com/about/local-associations/
- Pesticide law in SC is enforced by the Department of Pesticide Regulation at Clemson University. DPR is responsible for investigating pesticide misuse and drift reports including honey bee colonies that have died from pesticide exposure. Labels of most pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.) contain language with instructions to minimize exposure of honey bees and other pollinators during application. These include application timing, rates, spray equipment, site conditions and other factors that must be accounted-for when using the product. These instructions are designed to improve the efficacy of the product as well as minimize non-target impacts to pollinators and the environment. The label is the law, and deviations from it by an applicator constitutes a violation that can be enforced by the Department of Pesticide Regulation.
*****It is important for beekeepers to rule-out the most common and likely causes of honey bee mortality before assuming pesticides are at fault. The Clemson Apiculture and Pollinator Specialist can help beekeepers determine if management related issues such as pests, diseases, starvation, environmental stresses, or other non-pesticide causes are at fault. Contact Ben Powell at email@example.com for assistance with bee kills.*****
- To report possible pesticide kills in your apiary visit the inspectors’ territory map at https://www.clemson.edu/public/regulatory/pesticide-regulation/territory-map.html