What is the county apiary program?
Food and Agriculture Code (FAC) 29002 defines an apiary as “bees, comb, hives, appliances, or colonies, wherever they are kept, located, or found.” An apiary can be a backyard beekeeper with a single colony or a commercial beekeeper with several hundred colonies. The BeeSafe program assists beekeepers in mitigating bee loss caused by pesticides, theft and pests. The California Department of Food and Agriculture and the County Agricultural Commissioners work jointly to meet the goals of the BeeSafe program.
American Foulbrood is a serious disease affecting honey bees that is caused by the spore-forming bacterium Paenibacillus larvae. Beekeepers are required to monitor for this disease. If it is found, it must be mitigated so that it doesn't spread to other hives.
All beekeepers in possession of an apiary are required to register with the Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture annually. This includes both hobbyists and commercial beekeepers.
Registered beekeepers may request notice of certain pesticide applications that occur near their hives. Once a beekeeper registers and opts in to the notification system, pesticide applicators intending to apply pesticides that are toxic to bees to blossoming plants must check if there are colonies within a mile radius of the application site.
The BeeSafe program provides uniform communication among counties to reduce apiary theft. The Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture receives notification from the California Department of Food and Agriculture when beekeepers report stolen hives or equipment. Agricultural biologists also survey for unregistered hives and inspect for proper identification of apiaries. Beekeepers are encouraged to report missing hives to our office.