Monday, November 1, 2010

A reader asks: "Where can I see a copy of Florida's bee removal regulation?

Dear Cindy,

In Florida there is no "Bee Removal Regulation", per se.

Honey Bee colony removal from structures or landscapes in Florida is considered to be pest control, and as such, is regulated by Fla. State Statutes 482 & 5E-14. Here's a link to Ch 482.

Briefly, Ch 482 requires that one must possess a current pest control license to inspect for, remove, eradicate, or otherwise mitigate honey bee colonies in or around structures or landscapes. Here are some of the important parts of the statute, defining pest control:


“Pest” means an arthropod, wood-destroying organism, rodent, or other obnoxious or undesirable living plant or animal organism.

“Pest control” includes:

The use of ANY method or device or the application of any substance to prevent, destroy, repel, mitigate, curb, control, or eradicate any pest in, on, or under a structure, lawn, or ornamental;

The identification of or inspection for infestations or infections in, on, or under a structure, lawn, or ornamental;

The use of any pesticide, economic poison, or mechanical device for preventing, controlling, eradicating, identifying, inspecting for, mitigating, diminishing, or curtailing insects, vermin, rodents, pest birds, bats, or other pests in, on, or under a structure, lawn, or ornamental;

So, the above definition clearly states that honey bees, in and around structures are considered pests, and also includes nearly any activity intended to solve a pest honey bee infestation as pest control.

Or in other words, a beekeeper,in the process of removing a colony of pest honey bees from a structure or landscape, is performing pest control!

Just arriving and identifying the insect colony as Honey Bees, Yellow Jackets, or whatever, is pest control. And because mechanical devices are included in the pest control statute definition, once one uses common beekeeping tools such as bee vacuums, bee brushes, sugar water sprays, smokers, hive tools and the myriad of other tools commonly used in bee removals, he or she has ventured far into pest control, as clearly defined by State Statute. 

So how does one perform bee removal legally here in the state of Florida? Well, one must work for a licensed pest control firm. That means that one is trained by the firm's Certified Pest Operator, is paid salary by the firm, drives that firm's truck, uses the firm's tools, equipment and supplies,  and is covered by the commercial insurances including liability and workmen's compensation.

And, in order to secure and maintain a pest control license, one must pass several hurdles: Work under a Certified pest control operator for 3 years as a licensed technician; pass a certification exam; Maintain minimum business liability insurance; take annual Certified Educational Units, (CEU's); and maintain annual operator & business licenses, which are administered by the Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control. Oh, and one cannot be a convicted felon! The Bureau has authority to fine, remove license privileges and arrest violators and illegal operators, all of which affords the State's citizens significant protections.

What are the penalties for performing illegal bee removal Pest Control?

(1) It is unlawful to solicit, practice, perform, or advertise in pest control except as provided by this chapter.
(2) A person who violates any provision of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

So, you see that the State takes this very seriously. And, don't you think you should too? Do you Really want someone servicing your home that doesn't care about the law??? I certainly am very careful about who I let in my home!!! You should bee too!!

The Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control has a page that summarizes the legaleze very well. See it here. To check your bee removal provider's pest control certification status, you can go to this Bureau site here. Click on the "applicators" button to check on individuals, or on the "companies" button to check the status of firms.

If you witness unlicensed pest control, you can report it to your state inspector ( go here to find your region's inspector), or fill out this complaint form and send it to the address included within.

As you can see, there are no exemptions for beekeepers that do not possess a pest control license, to allow honey bee removals. In fact, the Chief Apiarist for the State of Florida's Department of Agriculture does not recommend live removals of any kind in or near structures, and only recommends that trained, licensed pest control operators eradicate pest honey bee colonies that are found near people or pets.  Why? Primarily because of the Public health risk from Africanized Honey Bees. This race of Honey Bee is spreading further and further throughout the State and can cause serious injury or death because of it's super-defensiveness.

Beekeeping IS regulated by State Statute, however, the intent of these beekeeping regulations is to prevent spread of bee disease and unwanted subspecies of honey bees,  NOT to protect humans!.

The keeping of honey bees or the transport of such insects, is regulated by Fla. State Statute Ch. 586. Note that this statute does not regulate bee removals, as bee removal is considered pest control and regulated by Ch. 482 & 5E-14.

Beekeepers only have to complete a registration process, submit to one annual inspection and pay a small fee. There are no beekeeping certification processes, no minimum insurances required, no annual CEU requirements or any other requirements under beekeeping regulations to protect the citizens of Florida against improper bee removals. Should a citizen suffer structural damages, physical injury or death resulting from a beekeeper-removal bee sting incident, there are no protections afforded, and lawsuit would be the only means of remedy. Little solace indeed, if the provider has few or no assets.

So, if one is performing bee colony removals in the State of Florida, and does not possess a valid pest control license, that person is performing illegally, according to Florida State Statute. Possession of a Beekeeping Registration does not grant license to perform bee colony removals, no matter what beekeepers may tell you, wish, or otherwise desire.

We possess the certifications, registrations, insurances, experience and education required to perform proper stinging insect removals in the State of Florida. Call us at 800-343-5317 or visit our website at .

I hope this helps. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Richard Martyniak, M.Sc., Entomologist
The Buzzkillers, LLC
1-800-343-5317 -or- 321-206-5100
Email me!

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