It can be lots of fun to keep a beehive. Not only are you helping local gardens and crops be productive, but you also get honey and other products to use or sell.

Here’s some good news! San Jose allows homeowners to maintain a beehive at their property.

When you live in the city, specific regulations from the state and San Jose must be followed to keep a beehive at your property.

The rules that govern the state requirements for beekeepers are found under Division 13, C1, Article 4 under the Food and Agriculture Code.

You must also register your hives annually through an online beekeeper management system.


What Are the City Codes in San Jose for Beekeeping?

San Jose does not allow anyone to keep or maintain a wild swarm of bees on their property. Anyone who wants to pursue formal beekeeping activities for any hive must have a permit issued by local officials to comply with city codes.

These permits are not transferable. If you sell your property, the hives must leave, or the new owner must talk with an administrator about getting their own license for the premises.

If you want to keep a hive, several criteria must be met before an official will grant the permit that legally allows beekeeping activities.

  1. There cannot be more than two hives maintained at once on any parcel or lot.
  2. Anyone wanting to pursue beekeeping must have their personal information registered with the agriculture commission, including where the hives are kept.
  3. The beehives must be kept outside of a ten-foot barrier on any side property line. They must also not be within 50 feet of any dwelling other than the individual who applies for the permit that allows these activities.
  4. No hives are allowed in San Jose within the required side or front setbacks.
  5. Each hive must have an entrance that faces a building or house on the property. A solid fence must surround it, with a minimum height of six feet necessary to meet coding requirements. It can be open on the side that faces the building or house.
  6. The bees must have access to a constant water supply on the property.

San Jose classifies all beehives that don’t follow these regulations to be a public nuisance. If you can present to the administrator written consent forms from each neighbor that the hives would impact, some distance limitations are modifiable.

The city reserves the right to revoke any waivers, even if written consent is granted, with a 30-day written notice.

These requirements have been in place since 2019. California’s annual bee registration fees continue to be $10 per beekeeper. If this process isn’t followed, fines could be levied until the permits are received, or the hives are removed.

San Jose charged $364 in the 2019-2020 fiscal year for a beekeeping permit, plus applicable application fees.

You receive a two-year permit with this investment, including the initial inspection.