Can I Keep Bees in Arizona?

Can I Keep Bees in Arizona?


A Hive in Every Backyard


I know it’s a pipe dream, and not everyone would even want a hive in their backyard, but putting the idea out there increases possibility in people’s minds. We all know that bees are struggling and the majority of honeybees in the United States are managed by commercial beekeepers who travel around the country pollinating crops. While this is an important endeavor, it’s not the best environment for honeybees. They come in contact with diseases and deal with the stress of traveling packed in truck trailers. Then there are the feral honeybees who take up residence in homes, and are often exterminated. None of these scenarios are particularly beneficial to one of our most important pollinators.


Here in Arizona many of us are turning our focus to our own backyards. Growing food in them and fostering an environment that brings health and vitality to our lives. We have gardens full of flowers and vegetables and fruit of all kinds. And what better way to improve our garden’s productivity than to add a hive or two full of thousands of little pollinators and honey factories. Having bees that are carefully managed in our own backyards can dramatically increase the yield of our fruit and vegetables, not to mention the honey we get to harvest.



Ok, so now that you want a hive…


The first thing to do is find out if you can legally have one on  your property. I hope that someday soon every city in Arizona will have bee-friendly laws to help accommodate anyone who wants a hive in their backyard, but unfortunately there are some strict ordinances in some of our cities.


green beehive




I was surprised when I started looking at the beekeeping zoning laws for the communities surrounding Phoenix. Some are very complex, and difficult to find, while others are pretty clear. If you are in an area I don’t mention here, please let me know so I can add it as a resource. For more information or for help, call your city clerk. They will help you find the information you need.


Phoenix: The city of Phoenix has an ordinance specifically for bee-keeping. In order to have just one hive or colony in Phoenix, you need to have more than 1,700 square feet of land. The ordinance also states the hive cannot be kept within 5 feet of the property line. Here is a great resource.


Tempe: Agricultural zones only, with the following stipulations according to the ordinance

  1. Occupied bee hives shall be at least two hundred (200) feet from any existing dwelling on another property;
  2. Occupied bee hives shall have a minimum separation of fifty (50) feet to any property line;
  3. Occupied bee hives shall have a minimum separation of one hundred fifty (150) feet to any street or bridle path; and
  4. Apiaries shall require a use permit.

Chandler: There are no restrictions on keeping bees in Chandler unless they become a nuisance or commercial enterprise (not sure what this encompasses.)


Mesa: These ordinances require you to be in an agricultural district to keep bees. Buildings or hives for apiaries may not be closer than 75 feet to any neighboring residence.


Gilbert: According to the city clerk, the land development code allows for apiaries in the Single Family Residential Zoning Districts with the stipulation that hives must be located at least 100 feet away from the property line.


Glendale: Beekeeping is only permitted in the A-1 Agricultural Zoning District


Queen Creek: Scroll all the way down the city document to Section 6-3 for all the requirements. One unique prerequisite is the need for a beekeeping license issued by the town clerk.


City of Maricopa: Here is Maricopa’s Zoning Map. Buildings or hives for apiaries may not be closer than 75 feet to any neighboring residence.


Pinal County: Check which zone your address falls in to determine if you can have bees. Click this link to find zones where apiaries can be kept, I did a search for “apiary” and the zones listed on the left of the linked page can have apiaries: Pinal County. There are no requirements for those apiaries.


If you live in other parts of Arizona, just look up city ordinances and zoning regulations for bees, apiaries, or agriculture. You can also call the local clerk’s office and ask them directly, but they will probably just do a google search too.



So where do I get bees NOW?


swarm bees

Once you decide that you can legally keep bees in your backyard, the next thing to do is to get a hive and then some bees. Depending on the time of year, if it is winter or early spring, you can order packaged bees from various places to be delivered in the spring from places like these:



If it is any other time of year, you are going to have to get bees locally, which may be the best option anyway since they will be acclimated to our hot climate. You can buy bees or hives from local beekeepers (see the Arizona Backyard Beekeepers Facebook page), or learn to catch swarms or do bee relocations yourself. We have a class to help you learn how to do that too, right HERE.


If you are starting out, you can get supplies from any of the resources above. You can also buy my recommendations from Amazon through my website’s Shop. Simply click HERE. If you do buy them as a link through my store, then I will receive a commission even though the price for you remains the same. If you do choose that route, thank you!


However and whenever you decide to get bees, the most important thing you can do is connect with other beekeepers for support. Please feel free to contact me HERE, and join Arizona Backyard Beekeepers.


The more backyard hives in Arizona, the better, so welcome to this awesome community of people helping to save the world one hive at a time.

31 thoughts on “Can I Keep Bees in Arizona?

  1. Hi! I’m interested in a backyard hive. I have more than an acre in Paradise Valley. Do you know the rules there? Also looking for a “care schedule” so I can see how much time they require during 1 calendar year. Thanks! Cheryl

    • Post Author cricket

      Hi Cheryl. I’m sorry I didn’t get back with you sooner. I’m not sure about the rules but many places basically allow you to have them as long as they don’t become a nuisance or someone complains. You have plenty of room though. The care schedule is basically just doing weekly inspections that would take about 30 minutes or less. I am happy to help you in any way.

  2. I am not as interested in whether I can keep bees as I live in Mohave County, north of Kingman. My issue is rather how do I prevent my hives from being invaded by africanized bees. How do I tell the difference? Are they incompatible? Are africanized bees nonsocial? Do they pollinate and make honey? Are they too aggressive and do they take over a hive?

    • Post Author cricket

      Africanized bees generally don’t take over a hive. You can keep your bees from becoming Africanized by inspecting every 1-2 weeks and ensuring that you have the marked queen you put in there. Hives become Africanized when they produce a new queen and that queen mates with feral Africanized bees. Africanized bees don’t really look any different, possibly slightly smaller because they come from natural comb. They are still Western Honeybees (apis mellifera). They are just more aggressive.

  3. I bought one of those Bambeco Bee House at Home Depot wanting to do the right thing to protect bees. But now that I read the instructions, I’m not sure if it will work. Store in October, return it in March? Even in Phoenix. A moist patch of soil near the house? What stays moist in Arizona?
    I did keep the receipt it’s actually a silly purchase in our area.

    Thank you

  4. does anyone know where to find the laws for bee keeping i lake havasu city and mohave county?

    • Post Author cricket

      I checked the zoning laws and they don’t mention bees, just animals in general. Here is the phone number for zoning there. Give them a call and ask what the laws are for keeping bees. I’d love to know what you find out: 928-453-4148

  5. Did you find out about the laws in Lake Havasu ?

  6. Hi Cricket.

    Can you recommend any literature or books for someone that is interested in starting out in beekeeping? We are moving to the Cottonwood area shortly and want to get a jump start.

    Thank you,


    • Post Author cricket

      I really like The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum. That’s the book our club is going through now. I have some more recommendations in my shop. They link to Amazon if they are updated. But at least you can see what I recommend. Beekeeping for Dummies is the other.

  7. What is your idea on how to take a aggressive hive and calm them down? I re-queened but it didn’t seem to work. By the way I down in Eloy.

    • Post Author cricket

      Where did you get your queen and how long ago did you install her?

      • I purchased her out of Georgia. Last Year.

      • I purchased her out of Georgia last year and installed her 3 days after receiving her.

        • Post Author cricket

          If it was in the late fall you still may have winter bees that live several months. Also, Georgia does have Africanized bees in some areas. I have had the same problem. It could also be that they are infested with varroa and are therefore agitated. You may want to treat for varroa and wait a few months and then order a new queen. Cordovans are super gentle. Is go with Hawaii queens. No chance of Africanized genes.

    • I’m in Yavapai County, outside Chino Valley city limits. We’re at mid-August. Is it too late to set up a backyard bee hive?

      Thank you. I’m enjoying your blog articles too!

      • Post Author cricket

        It’s never too late. But it’s less enjoyable to be in your hive when it’s hot. And you do need to feed your bees. If those things don’t matter to you then go for it. Build your colony through the fall so that they’re strong going into winter and spring. Basically just making sure they have food and brood.

  8. What product do you recommend for treating for varroa mite treatment.

  9. My neighbor behind me has beehives. No water source. The bees are overtaking our salt water pool, they’re getting very aggressive flying at our heads and faces if we try to swim. Can I report the neighbor for providing no water source on their property? This is a big nuisance!

    • Post Author cricket

      I stead of reporting them simply ask them to provide a water source. The problem is that even if they had provided a source it’s very likely that the bees still would choose your pool. One thing you can do is to have a bottle of vinegar around and spray the areas where the bees land. Eventually they won’t come there.

    • Post Author cricket

      Instead of reporting him why not talk to him and see why he doesn’t have a water source. Actually even if he had ten water sources the bees still may like your pool better. My bees do not use my water source. That is often the case. Once bees establish a watering location it is very hard to get them to go someplace else, especially if you have salt water I think. You can try to offer water in another area of your yard and put a few drops of lemongrass oil in.

  10. I really, REALLY want to start beekeeping but I live in a sub-division and I can’t use my backyard. I live out in Buckeye and there are tons of fields (a lot already have hives on them). I’m desperately trying to figure out how to convince one of the farmers to let me put one hive on their property but don’t seem to be having much luck.

    I wish I knew someone with a lot of property.

    • Post Author cricket

      Ok, ok. I get this a lot, and the good thing is that I also get even more people who want a hive on their property but don’t want to manage bees. Check out my Facebook page and I’ll put together an application for both those wanting bees and those wanting to host the hives.

  11. Hi, I’m wondering about how profitable it is to keep bees? I’m looking to have about 5 hives in the Prescott Valley area. Do you know anything about this?

    • Post Author cricket

      There are quite a few beekeepers in Prescott Valley. So you’re in good company. Bees can be profitable with honey and other products when you learn how to manage them for that. Two well managed hives can produce much more than 10 poorly managed hives, so keep that in mind. Just learn to keep strong hives and you’ll do fine.

  12. Hi, I’m just curious where you were able to find the beekeeping ordinance for the city of Glendale? I have looked through the entire municipal code, I can’t find any mention of bees or beekeeping.

    • Post Author cricket

      I’ll have to go look it up again. It’s really hidden in the zoning codes. Sometimes I have just emailed or called the county clerk and asked. If I find it I’ll post here.

  13. Hi Cricket, I’m not a beekeeper or want a bee box or anything. My question is what to do about bees taking over my backyard. I’m totally pro-bees and I’ve planted a lot of potted plants specifically to attract pollinators, but I think one of my neighbors has a bee box (it’s what it looks like from a distance, but not sure) and recently the bees had started swarming my hummingbird feeder. To the point where the hummingbirds could not get to it. So I ended up having to put out a small bowl of sugar water each morning to keep the bees happy and away from the HB feeder. But my worry is that I might be creating a bigger problem down the line by attracting the bees and feeding them. Will this cause them to be more prolific and will my yard be taken over by bees? Will they get aggressive in the fall and possibly sting me or my dog? So far I haven’t had any problems with them, other than me being a little scared of them stinging me. They buzz around me and sometimes land on me but never sting me. How worried should I be?

    • Post Author cricket

      Jennifer, right now the bees are really hungry. I set out sugar syrup to feed my bees and the entire neighborhood bees come by. Hummingbird feeders are bee feeders to bees. If you put out sugar the bees will come and when you stop they will go away. During times when there is ample food for bees the hummingbird feeders shouldn’t be much of a problem. If your neighbor has a beehive you should ask him to feed his bees since they are coming to your yard for food. It is his or her responsibility to care for the bees. But like I said, the bees could bee from anywhere. One bee finds a food source and they go back to tell their friends. If you take it away they will leave.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *