Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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May one raise bees on one’s roof in D.C.? Can one, even?

The short answer: Yes.

The longer answer: For years, D.C. residents have lived under a rather perplexing municipal code that contains two bee-related provisions: 1) “No bees or hives of bees shall be permitted to be kept when there are human habitations within a radius of five hundred feet”; and 2) “The provisions of this section shall not apply to bees confined in hives.”

So no beehives allowed, unless the bees are in a hive!

The ambiguity didn’t stop plenty of Washingtonians from keeping bees, but soon they’ll no longer be living in municipal sin. In 2012, the D.C. Council passed new laws that legalized beekeeping. Additional regulations, developed with input from the apiarian community, should be officially announced soon. The basics: hives must be either 15 feet from any property line, six feet from a property line with a permanent barrier, or installed with permission from neighbors.

So yes, you may raise bees on your roof, and yes, you certainly can. Just take a class first, or consider enlisting the help of the D.C. Beekeepers Alliance or DC Honeybees before proceeding.