Providing limited civil immunity from liability for apiarists


The WSBA team with Senator Honeyford in Olympia

Today, Washington State Beekeepers are exposed to nuisance lawsuits over behavior of honey bees. SB5696 addresses this by limiting a beekeeper’s civil liability as long as they have used best practices.

This bill is beneficial to all beekeepers so I encourage you to support the bill and bring it to your senator’s attention.

An apiarist or broker who is registered under RCW 15.60.021, and who operates his or her apiary or apiaries in a reasonable manner and in conformance with the department’s apiary best management practices rules, is immune from civil liability for any personal injury or property damage that occurs in connection with the keeping and maintaining of bees, bee equipment, queen breeding equipment, apiaries…

SB5696 was introduced by Senators Steve Litzow, (41st District – Mercer Island, Bellevue, Issaquah) and Mark Mullet (5th district — North Bend, Enumclaw, Issaquah).

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing with the Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday, Feb 18, 10 AM.

In addition to contacting your own representative, contact Senator Jim Honeyford . He has been a faithful supporter of honey bees for years BUT he needs to hear it from just a few. That way he gets the message that it is important to the whole industry, which is not very large but every voice counts. Senator Honeyford was instrumental in rewriting the RCW in support of the beekeeping industry in past years.

Senator Honeyford is a member of the ag water and rural economic development and the chairman of the capital budget on the ways and means committees.

5696 – Limiting beekeeper liability

Contact your representative


  1. Frank C Keeler says:

    I support SB5696 limiting a beekeeper’s civil liability.

  2. Robert Niles says:

    I like the proposal – EXCEPT for the fact that one 2/20/13, they added this condition:

    “The rules shall provide for specific setbacks that must be made upon the written
    demand of any person having an allergy to bee stings who owns property within
    one-quarter mile of the location of the hive or hives.”

  3. Robert Niles says:

    Much better!

    It looks like Senator Litzow has suggested an amendment to strike out the 1/4 mile provision as follows:

    Beginning on page 1, line 18, after “apiaries.” strike all material
    2 through “hives.” on page 2, line 3 and insert “Beekeeping is permitted
    3 outright as an accessory use, when registered with the department,
    4 provided that: (a) No more than four hives, each with only one swarm,
    5 are allowed on lots of less than ten thousand square feet; and (b)
    6 hives are not located within twenty-five feet of any lot line except
    7 when situated eight feet or more above the grade immediately adjacent
    8 to the grade of the lot on which the hives are located or when situated
    9 less than eight feet above the adjacent existing lot grade and behind
    10 a solid fence or hedge six feet high parallel to any lot line within
    11 twenty-five feet of a hive and extending at least twenty feet beyond
    12 the hive in both directions.”

    Maybe they should change the word “swarm” to “colony”.

  4. Robert Niles says:

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