Beekeeping has been a commercial enterprise in Hawai‘i since European honey bees were first introduced in the late 1800s, but hobbyist and sideliner operations are growing in popularity across the state as they are elsewhere in the US. Whether keeping bees is your full-time profession, a supplemental source of income, or a hobby, it is important to understand and adhere to the ordinances governing honey bees in your county to avoid potential fines or criminal liability. In addition to local laws, all beekeepers should be aware of state laws limiting the transport of beekeeping materials from the mainland to Hawai‘i and between the islands, as well as laws governing the sale of honey.
This publication serves as a comprehensive guide to current state and local laws concerning beekeeping. Current and future beekeepers should refer to the original language of published laws when determining whether their operation is in compliance. In many cases, county ordinances are vague or use unclear language, which can be confusing for individuals wishing to keep bees in their backyards. When in doubt, contact your county Planning Departments with questions (Table 1). Keep in mind: if county codes do not expressly say that a land use is allowed within a particular zone, then that use is not allowed in that zone. Citizens are encouraged to contact their County Council Representatives if they believe local ordinances should be updated.
Table 1. Contact information for appropriate County Planning Departments.
East: (808) 961-8288
West: (808) 323-4770
A complete description of Hawai‘i’s Revised Statutes is available online at https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/ (use the “Hawaii Revised Statutes” search option on the left of the page). Those portions relating to honey bees and beekeeping specifically are described below.