Quick Bee FAQs

How can I get started?
All beekeepers (1 hive < ) must register with Primary Industries Department under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994. This way, hives can be traced to their owner. If you’re brand new to the game, take a course! Bees require specialised husbandry to build a healthy colony and avoid harm to yourself. See our list of courses below, where you can get the skills you need.

Where can I put my bees?
Your property size will affect number of hives you can have. See ‘The Code’.To site hives in National and State Parks, reserves and crown land, a right to access license may need to be purchased. Hives need to be placed further than 3m from a boundary fence, unless:   

  • The boundary fence or boundary hedge is higher than 2m
  • The building adjacent to boundary has no windows facing the hive
  • The adjoining property is unimproved land.


I’m in an urban area - where can I put my hives so they won’t bother people?
See above. Follow the regarding location and density rules in the Code. If bees flight pathway to the hive will cross a thoroughfare used by people, a buffer (fence or hedge) will need to shield the area. Minimise risk to general public by practicing sound management to reduce swarms

How can I avoid swarming?
The tendency to swarm occurs in Summer. You can reduce the hives risk of swarming by dividing the colony in two, until the warm season has past. After a 12 week period, hives can be re-joined.

There’s a feral swarm near where I place my hives -  have I done something wrong?
Not necessarily. Feral swarms can come from far away. Swarms in proximity to managed apiculture hives should not be assumed to have come from them.

A feral swarm!  Can I help?
Yes you can! The “Bees Helpline” connects community callers who have found a hive with a beekeeper willing to catch them. When a beekeeper does a community service by removing a feral hive, they are granted a grace period in which to register their new hives on the license.

What are some basics to care for my bees?
Beekeepers must manage their hives to avoid outside bees accessing them. Reduce risk of nectar robbing by foreign bees in dry, low nectar years by keeping the hive closed for longer periods of the day. Water must be accessible by bees. This is ideally placed in partial shade, in place before the hive is established and filled with floating or protruding objects to act as land pads.

I need more technical help than that! Who’s out there?
VFF Beekeeper Branch and Victorian Apiculture Association. If you haven’t already – take a course. The VFF can provide some planning advice and further information is below.

Aside from the Apiary Code, what laws am I subject to?
Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 governs quality control of honeybees and the honey they produce. Don’t let your hive be corrupted by foreign bees. You can do this by reducing the hours your hive is open during low nectar years. This reduces the instance of outside bees visiting your hive to ‘rob them’ of stored nectar.

Store all out of use equipment away from open air. Leaving empty hive boxes /sticky combs exposed can attract wild bees and is a breach of the Livestock Disease Control Act

Do I need to put signage up near my hives?
The Code encourages beekeepers to sign their hives away from their residence clearly, with name and contact. This is primarily to allow the beekeeper to be contacted in event of a natural disaster (bushfire) or notify of activity (spraying, controlled burns).

At a state or national level, bee hives are not required by law to be signed. However it is strongly suggested to minimise interference and risk the public.Signage may also improve your legal position in a civil dispute

Am I legally liable if someone gets stung, if that leads to a dangerous allergic reaction?
This is a tricky. Bees occur in nature and accidental stings here and there cannot be legally attributed to managed apiculture. However, it is highly recommend that beekeepers invest in Public Liability Insurance to cover against stings and accidents due to uninvited tampering, or secondary accidents that could be linked to bees.

What type of beekeeping can I practice?
There’s several options; from permanent sites for small scale hobbyists, migratory hives to capitalise on local flowering, crop pollinators, to queen bee rearing. Read more in The Code. 

Bedtime reading:
Code Explained
Bob’s Beekeeping Courses
Natural Beekeeping Australia
Castlemaine Bee Sanctuary