Livestock Bill: Keep bees without licence at your own peril

A farmer harvest honey from a  beehive.[Getty Images]


Any person who intends to keep bees will now be forced to obtain a licence from the government.

In the new laws proposed by the government, no person shall be allowed to keep bees for commercial purposes except in an apiary registered under the new Act.

The Livestock Bill, 2021 states that a person shall not own or possess bees or beekeeping equipment for commercial purposes unless the person is registered under the Act or allow bees to be kept on land owned or occupied by the person unless the land is registered under the act as the location of an apiary.

“A person who intends to be registered as a beekeeper shall apply to the county executive committee member responsible for livestock in the prescribed manner,” reads part of the Bill.

The Bill which has been presented at the National Assembly for debate says the County Executive Committee member in charge of livestock shall, if satisfied that the applicant meets the requirement of registration prescribed in regulations, register and issue them a certificate of registration in a prescribed form.

“The certificate shall be valid for a period of one year from the date of issue,” notes the Bill.

According to the Bill, a person who becomes a beekeeper only because of the ownership or the charge, care or possession of bees kept in a device of an approved kind and used for the purpose of the pollination of crops is not required to be registered under the section if the bees and device are disposed of in the prescribed manner within eight weeks after the person becomes a beekeeper in relation to them.

It further says a person shall not place a hive containing bees within 30 metres of property line separating the land on which the hive is placed or left from land occupied as a dwelling or used for the community centre, public park or other places of public assembly or recreation.

“A person shall not leave a hive containing bees within ten metres of a highway. Where the livestock CEC is satisfied that keeping of bees or a number of beehives in a certain place is a public nuisance or danger to public health or safety, the CEC should declare the premises to be unsuitable for beekeeping and order the beekeeper to remove the hive to a site approved in line with regulations,” the bill reads in part.

The Bill requires beehives to be specifically designed as prescribed in the guidelines, branded, registered with the registered brand made available to the authorities accompanied by the prescribed fee.

To those who will fail to dispose of dead colonies of bees, honeycombs or exposed hives, the Bill proposes that the authorities will dispose of them and the beekeeper shall pay expenses incurred in the disposal process.

The bill notes that no one will be allowed to import bees unless they obtain an import permit, a certificate of inspection signed by an apiary inspector from the country of origin declaring them free of contagious diseases.

It says a person who shall contravene the regulations commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.

The bill aims to regulate and coordinate the development of the livestock sector, provide a mechanism for the realisation of national food and nutrition security and food safety.

It also aims to coordinate the provision of incentives to livestock farmers, regulating production, manufacturing and utilisation of livestock products.

If passed, the bill will regulate the marketing of livestock inputs and products, provide for the establishment of animal resource training institutions, support a value chain approach to capacity building in the livestock sector.