How to Keep Bees for a Texas Ag Exemption
Beekeeping can qualify Texas landowners for an ag exemption (1-d-1 appraisal) with only 5 – 20 acres of land! With a serious decline in the honey bee population around the world, what better way to do your part to preserve this master pollinator and lower your property taxes too! With the option of learning to keep your own honey bees or hiring a service to do it for you, what are you waiting for!?!?
For folks who like the idea of keeping bees but do not want to do it themselves, there’s beekeeping services that can do all the work for you. Landowners can lease hives and still qualify for an ag exemption. These hives pollinate gardens, trees, flowers and crops in a two mile area, although bees have been observed foraging up to two or three times this distance from their hive. Beekeeping services can manage the hives as required by each county so the landowner can qualify for an ag exemption.
With only a minimum of 5 acres of land a person in Texas can keep bees. Keep in mind you’ll need at least 6 acres if you plan to have a residence on the property too. Beekeeping rules have slightly different regulations and requirements for each county. For your convenience we’ve provided below the requirements for Williamson County.
Beekeeping Land Qualification Guidelines
Beekeeping is an agricultural use and shall qualify for agricultural use productivity valuation if used for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value. (Sec. 23.51(2) Tax Code).
Text of subd. (2) effective until Jan. 1, 2012, if constitutional amendment (S.J.R. No. 16) is approved.
(2) “Agricultural use: includes but is not limited to the following activities: cultivating the soil, producing crops for human food, animal feed, or planting seed or for the production of fibers; floriculture, viticulture, and horticulture; raising or keeping livestock; raising or keeping exotic animals for the production of human food or of fiber, leather, pelts, or other tangible products having a commercial value; planting cover crops or leaving land idle for the purpose of participating in a governmental program, provided the land is not used for residential purposes or a purpose inconsistent with agricultural use; and planting cover crops or leaving land idle in conjunction with normal crop or livestock rotation procedure. The term also includes the use of land to produce or harvest logs and posts for the use in constructing or repairing fences, pens, barns, or other agricultural improvements on adjacent qualified open-space land having the same owner and devoted to a different agricultural use. The term also includes the use of land for wildlife management. The term also includes the use of land to raise or keep bees for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value, provided that the land used is not less than 5 or more than 20 acres.
The State of Texas (set by HB 2049) has set a minimum of five (5) acres and a maximum of twenty (20) acres to qualify beekeeping as an agricultural use.
The minimum degree of intensity was established using Section 131.001 Texas Agriculture Code’s definition of an apiary, which is a place where six or more colonies of bees or nuclei of bees are kept. A colony is the hive and its equipment and appurtenances including bees, comb, honey, pollen and brood.
For each additional two (2) acres, one additional hive is required. If additional acreage is less than two (2) acres, no additional hive is required. For example, if a property owner has fifteen acres of land used for beekeeping, eleven hives would be needed to qualify.
First 5 acres 6 hives
Additional 10 acres 5 hives
Total Hives Required 11 hives
When property owners initially qualify for agricultural appraisal they must show proof of history for agricultural use / beekeeping for any of the five preceding seven years. One way to do this is to provide export, import or intra-state permits, which are required by the Texas Apiary Inspection Service to transport hives. Also, historic financial records indicating active honey production and /or leases.
Please research the rules and regulations of the county you plan to keep bees in and consult a beekeeping professional to get started.