Some frequently asked questions.?? Also please send in your input, suggestions, questions on bees to the MBA web committee, or Zachary Huang.

Simply leave a “comment” here.



1. Do I need to register for my bees before I start beekeeping?

Answer: No, Michigan has no inspection program and registration is not required.  You are encouraged to join the Michigan Beekeepers Association or a local club to learn more about beekeeping.

2. Does Michigan provide an inspection program?

Answer: No. We used to have one.  Michigan no longer has a regular inspection program.  However, if you move your bees out of the state, you may be required to provide a certificate showing the bees are healthy.  This kind of inspections are handled by Mike Hansen, the State Apiarist of Michigan.  His phone number and email are in the “Officer” section of this web.

3. I have bees living inside the drywalls and I do not want them. I have called a few exterminators and was told honey bees are protected and they could not legally kill them. Is this true?

Answer: No. There is no law in Michigan, or in any state, to prevent the home owner from removing/killing the honey bees, if they are a nuisance.  Typically I would let them alone unless someone in the family is severely allergic to honey bee stings.  If you really want them to be removed, find a local beekeeper, and pay him/her to do the removal.  Unless it is a swarm, almost no one will do it for free because it requires extensive work to remove bees.

4. I live in the UP, and noticed small holes in sandy areas of our yard. Today I noticed what I think are bees sticking their heads in and out. I’m wondering what kinds of bees these could be.

Many types of bees nest in the ground. The most common ones are sweat bees and digger bees.  For more info, visit http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2143.html

5. We have a nest of honey bees inside the drywall, can we simply spray into the nest to kill them?

Answer: No. Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of bees inside your walls would be take the walls apart (at least the sidings, etc), expose the nest, then remove the bees by relocating them or kill them using a pesticide.  It is not enough to kill them with a pesticide without removing the nest.  Because the honey left behind will attract other bugs.  In addition, honey and wax will melt inside the wall during summer, creating a mess inside your house.  This is because live bees regulate temperature at 95 F, so honey and wax never melt when live bees are in there.
Try to call an exterminator and ask if they would remove the siding to get into the nest (remove all the honey, vacuum up all the bees etc).  DO NOT allow them to simply kill the bees inside without doing anything to the nest.  It is possible to kill the bees using a dust formulated insecticide, wait until they die, then open the walls to remove the nest (all honey would be contaminated, so do not use for human consumption or feed to bees).
Trapping does not work very but can be tried if it is difficult to take the walls apart. This publication has details on trapping with a diagram: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2079.html

6. How many hives are required on our property so that it can be taxed as “agricultural use?”

Mike Hansen answers:

The answer quite simply is that utilizing a property for an agricultural purpose does not cause or require a change in the zoning or taxation of that piece of property.  Zoning and property taxes are a function of local government. Depending on the structure of the local unit of government, a person should be in contact with their zoning administrator, local zoning board, treasurer, or perhaps the township clerk to find out how their community is zoned, and if their community allows for changes in zoning based on a change in use of the property.
Simply increasing the number of honeybee colonies on a property will not support a zoning change. In zoning, the local government looks at a number of variables which could include a township or county master plan, the value of the property for development, the use of neighboring properties, etc.  Such plans are valuable as they prevent spot zoning, and often limit spot development of land identified in the plan for agriculture, recreation, etc.  Agricultural production is generally allowed in most zoning categories, but implementing an agricultural process to force re-zoning of a single property to decrease a tax liability is usually not successful.

As noted above, Zoning a property taxes are a function of the local unit of government. This question comes up quite often at tax time, or as landowners get notice that their local tax tribunal will be holding hearings. I recommend having this discussion with local government at a time of year when they don’t have a line of property owners at their door.

An attorney answers:

I trust the following is a good beginning point.  Back in 2003, I used, among other items, the following to win an appeal at the Michigan Tax Tribunal (obviously the cites and quotes would have to be checked and up dated):
Qualified agricultural property is defined by MCLA Section 211.7dd and states in pertinent part:

(d) “Qualified agricultural property” means unoccupied property and related buildings classified as agricultural, or other unoccupied property and related buildings located on that property devoted primarily to agricultural use as defined in section 36101 of the natural resources and environmental protection act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.36101.  Related buildings include a residence occupied by a person employed in or actively involved in the agricultural use …

and MCL 324.36101 defines agricultural use:

(b)? “Agricultural use” means the production of plants and animals useful to humans, including forages and crops; grains, feed crops, and field crops; dairy and dairy products; poultry and poultry products; livestock, including breeding and grazing of cattle, swine, captive cervidae, and similar animals; berries; herbs; flowers, seeds; grasses; nursery stock, fruits, vegetables, Christmas trees; and other similar uses and activities.  Agricultural use includes use in a federal acreage set-aside program or a federal conservation reserve program. …

MCLA Section 211.34c. states in pertinent part:

(1)? Not later than the first Monday in March in each year, the assessor shall classify every item of assessable property according to the definitions contained in this section. …

(2) The classifications of assessable real property are described as follows:

(a) Agricultural real property includes parcels usedfor agricultural operations, with or without buildings … . As used in this subdivision, “agricultural operations” means the following

(i) Farming in all its branches, including cultivating soil.
(ii) Growing and harvesting any agricultural, horticultural, or floricultural commodity.


(iv) Raising livestock, bees, fish, fur-bearing animals, or poultry.

(v) Turf and tree farming.
(vi) Performing any practices on a farm incident to, or in conjunction with, farming operations. . . .

MCLA Section 211.7dd states:

A parcel of property is devoted primarily to agricultural use … if more than 50% of the parcel’s acreage is devoted to agricultural use.

262 comments to FAQ/ASK

  • Max

    How much honey bee hives are in Michigan?

  • Linda Bradley

    What is the response of the Michigan Beekeepers Association of the current proposed changes to the 2015 GAAMPs in which are added New Restrictions on the Keeping of BEES? As a beekeeper and a memeber of the association I would like to know.
    Linda Bradley

  • Stephen Tilmann

    Hi Linda,
    While the MBA board has discussed the 2015 GAAMPs in several board meetings throughout 2014, there has not been an “official” position taken. The 2015 GAAMPs will be on the agenda for the December 6, 2014 board meeting. This meeting will be at the Natural Science Building on the MSU campus at 10am on December 6. You are welcomed to attend, if you so wish.
    Steve Tilmann, Treasurer
    Michigan Beekeepers’ Association

  • Sarah

    Is there going to be a Spring 2015 conference?? I have been checking the website faithfully to plan for it, but can’t find anything.

  • Stephen Tilmann

    Hi Sarah,
    You bet! The 2015 spring conference will definitely happen on March 13 and 14, 2015. As usual, the conference will be held at the Kellogg Center on the MSU campus. Details about the conference are still be finalized. However, the MBA web site should have a page up in a week or so with a link to register on-line. This coming spring the MBA will be celebrating its 150th anniversary. Quite an achievement! We are planning a lot of special events… so stay tuned!
    Steve Tilmann, Treasurer
    Michigan Beekeepers’ Association

  • Dear Beekeepers Association,

    We are Iotron Industries USA, an electron beam irradiation service provider. We host an annual Apiary Day each year, providing beekeepers in the region a hive sterilization service that promotes a clean environment to raise a healthy hive and increased brood.

    Apiary Day this year is Friday, March 20. Please see the attached for details and feel free to distribute among your membership.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

    Kind Regards,

    Aaron Starkey
    Sales & Marketing Manager
    Iotron Industries USA Inc. l 4394 East Park 30 Drive l Columbia City, IN l 46725 USA
    Tel: (260) 212-1722 Ext 302 l Mobil: (260) 582-1008 l Fax: (260) 244-2762
    E-mail: astarkey@iotron.com l Web: http://www.iotron.com

    Iotron is offering this special in an effort to help combat local area diseases, shrinking population and effects of the heavy winter kill. On March 20, Iotron is waiving its minimum processing charges and will process supers (with or w/o frames), brood comb, frames, or other items that you would like sterilized and rid free from spores, viruses, diseases, fungus or mites for $5.00 per garbage bag item (see instructions on the back). Our process will eliminate AFB, Chalkbrood, Nosema, Varroa Mites, Wax Moth eggs, etc. Your sterilized equipment will provide a clean environment to raise a healthy hive and increased brood. It doesn’t matter if you have one, a hundred, or a thousand, we will process each bagged item for $5.00. Please call with any questions.

    You must pay in full and in advance of the treatment.
    We have scheduled the treatment for March 20, 2015.
    You can pay by Cash, Money order or Check
    In addition to your payment, we will need your contact information including:
    Telephone / Cell
    Number of Bags dropped off
    Drop off: Anytime week of March 16 or bring in and will process the day of March 20.
    Location: IOTRON INDUSTRIES, 4394 East Park 30 Drive, Columbia City, IN 46725
    Treatment: March 20, 2015
    Time: 7:30AM to 4:30PM EST
    Iotron normal service hours to drop off prior to March 20: M – F 8 am – 4:30 PM. After hours by appointment only.
    When you drop off your equipment, Iotron will record your personal information and confirm the items you have brought in to be treated and record your payment
     Supers may contain frames but best results are achieved if frames do not contain honey or honey is minimized. If not enough frames to fill the super, add frames so there is minimal movement when bagged and taped.
    Supers must be wrapped in plastic bags, preferably over-bagged to prevent honey leaks and re-contamination, and secured with duct tape on the top, bottom and sides to secure the frames.
    Each must be labeled with your name. Also include on the label the number of the packages you are submitting for example: “Tom Rushmore bag 4 of 15”.
     Frames (with or without honey): Two (2) frames per bundle and must be wrapped in a plastic bag and taped securely, edges sealed to prevent leakage. Labeled with both your name and number of packages.
     Bottom Boards, Inner Covers and Lids: Secure in bundles of 3. Should be wrapped in plastic bags and secured with duct tape. Each must be labeled with your name and number of the packages
     Pollen should be in a bag that is large enough so that it can be spread out and have a maximum depth of 11cm. Iotron cannot process pollen deeper that 11 cm.
     Miscellaneous Equipment: Contact Iotron directly for specific instructions.

  • Anita Monical


    Once again, I am back with questions. Folks here have been so kind to me, providing me with resources for study. Briefly, on our 20 acres, we think we accidentally created excellent habitat for bees, and one of our oldest friends, Mikey, a retired sustenance gardener, is interested in locating hives on our pesticide/herbicide free land. We believe about 7 acres are suitable for siting. (13 acres of shallow wetland)

    Mikey has been helping us look after the property for years, and we absolutely trust his commitment.

    The issue is cost. Mikey is on a very limited budget, (and we are also wise, wanting to take this slowly.) Moreover, unlike Mikey, we personally are not so much interested in harvesting honey as we are in preserving and promoting wild bee habitat.

    Are there bee organizations that can assist in initial evaluation and mentoring for newbies at low cost? Before we commit, we would like an honest assessment of the chances of success.

    We currently have one hive of wild bees right in the back yard, in a black walnut tree, that has been colonized twice. 20 yards away, down the hill, we have a managed stand of Black Locust trees surrounded by roughly 2 acres of Goldenrod holding the Dame’s Rocket at bay. Add in the dandelions, other wild flowers and a large cultivated flower/veggie garden and there is lots of food for our one known hive.

    Is there low cost advisory assistance out there?

    Thank you for your time.

  • Stephen Tilmann

    Anita, where are you located?

  • Anita Monical

    Munith, near Stockbridge MI.

  • Stephen Tilmann

    Hi Anita,
    Beekeeping is a fascinating and rewarding past time. Bees help you discover and learn aspects of the natural world that is literally right under our noses. Most folks don’t have this insight or the appreciation of our environment that it brings. Consider yourself lucky to have the interest in beekeeping.

    Bees are expert foragers. The flowers on your property are only the base. They will range far and wide looking for pollen and nectar. If you garden on your property, or have neighbors that do, you will be amazed at how the garden responds. And don’t discount what resources there are in those 13 acres of shallow wetland. It sounds like you have an excellent place to establish an apiary.

    We would recommend that you start attending a local bee club. In your area, the Center of Michigan Beekeepers (COMB) is probably the closest. Bee clubs are 80% educational and 20% networking/social/fun. COMB actively seeks to hook up mentors and mentees (if that is a word). Also, clubs have beginning bee classes (though COMB’s class is currently filled and interested people are being put on a waiting list).

    You may also want to consider attending the 2015 MBA spring conference. This is the premier beekeeping event in Michigan. Hundreds of beekeepers will gather in East Lansing on march 13 and 14, 2015 for a 2 day conference packed with classes, top notch featured speakers, vendors and much, much more. The cost in nominal, the knowledge gained is priceless. The conference has a beginners track which might be a good place to start. And be sure to spend lots of time in the huge vendor room.

    As far as an assessment of your property… Bees can live and thrive just about anywhere in Michigan (and do). From the rural fields and farms to downtown Detroit. Come to a COMB meeting and your probably can find a local beekeeper who would be more than happy to come out and help you select a site.

    You are about to embark on a learning experience like none other. CongratulationsS
    Steve Tilmann, Treasurer
    Michigan Beekeepers’ Association

  • Good afternoon,

    I’m looking for a supplier of good Michigan buckwheat honey that could be used in one of our cookies to be sold in our retail stores and catalog. I’ve reached out to several suppliers but haven’t had any luck. Could someone please point me in the right direction? tony@cherryrepublic.com

    Thank you!

  • Stephen Tilmann

    You might want to try… Terry Klein at tmksons@gmail.com or Bob Hollis at goldenharvest@charter.net
    Steve Tilmann, Treasurer
    Michigan Beekeepers’ Association

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