Domestic Beekeeping FAQ

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Effective Oct. 11, 2012, the Cary Town Council changed its rules to allow domestic beekeeping for non-commercial purposes as an accessory use on residential lots. The following is a quick summary of the Domestic Beekeeping Ordinance. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Planning and Development Services Department at (919) 469-4082.


On Oct. 11, 2012 Town Council adopted an amendment to the Land Development Ordinance (LDO) to permit domestic beekeeping in certain zoning districts, subject to certain requirements and standards.

What Is domestic beekeeping? 

Domestic beekeeping is defined in Cary’s LDO as the care, manipulation and management of all life-stages of the honey-producing insects of the genus and species Apis melliferea for non-commercial purposes.

How does Cary regulate domestic beekeeping?

Domestic beekeeping is covered in Section 5.3.4 of the LDO and is permitted as an “accessory use” in conjunction with detached single-family residential uses in the R-80, R-40, R-20, R-12, R-8, TR, TC-MDR, TC-LDR, TC-LDR-12, TC-CB&R, PDD and MXD zoning districts. To find out how your property is zoned, please feel free to visit our Property Information map.

If Cary allows me to have domestic bees, but my Homeowner’s Association (HOA) does not, whose rules do I follow?

Homeowner Associations (HOA’s) have private authority to regulate the structures and uses permitted within a neighborhood. Whether or not Cary permits beekeeping in your zoning district, if your HOA prohibits beekeeping, you are not allowed to have beekeeping on your property. Or if your HOA has more stringent rules regarding how beekeeping can occur, then you must follow those rules instead. You should contact your association or management company for more information.

How many domestic beehives can I have?

In the R-80, R-40, R-20, R-12, R-8, TR, PDD and MXD zoning districts, and the MDR, LDR, LDR-12 and CB&R sub-districts of the Town Center where the minimum lot size exceeds 6,000 square feet, you can have up to a maximum of eight beehives with an approved Accessory Use Permit, subject to meeting certain standards and lot sizes. The maximum number of beehives allowed is determined based on your lot size as follows:

Lot Area (square feet)

Maximum Number of Hives Allowed

6,000 – 20,000


20,001 – 30,000


30,001 – 40,000


40,001 – 50,000


50,001 – 60,000


60,001 – 70,000


70,001 or Larger


Is there a permit fee to have domestic beehives?

To have domestic beehives in the R-80, R-40, R-20, R-12, R-8, TR, PDD and MXD zoning districts, and the MDR, LDR, LDR-12 and CB&R sub-districts of the Town Center where the minimum lot size exceeds 6,000 square feet, an Accessory Use Permit is required. There is a one time $50 processing fee for the Accessory Use Permit. You can find a copy of the permit application here.

How far from my property line do my beehives need to be?

Domestic Beehives are required to be placed a minimum of 10 feet away from any property line. The Accessory Use Permit application must include a “plot plan” drawing that shows the location of all domestic beehives and their distances from all applicable property lines.

Will I be required to have my property inspected by the Town of Cary?

No. An inspection of the proposed site for keeping of domestic beehives will not typically be conducted by the Town of Cary as part of the permitting process unless the review of the permit indicates the need to verify information. The Town will inspect and determine compliance with the ordinance on a complaint basis or if staff observation indicates that a violation may be occurring.

What can I do if my neighbor has bees that are a nuisance?

Section 6-71a of Cary’s Code of Ordinances (Code) states that It shall be unlawful for any person to own, keep, possess, harbor or maintain bees or beehives in such a manner as to unreasonably annoy humans; endanger the life or health of persons or animals, or substantially interfere with the rights of citizens (other than their owners) to enjoyment of life or property; or otherwise constitute a public nuisance. By way of example and not of limitation, the following activities are hereby declared to be a public nuisance and are, therefore, unlawful:

  • Multiple bees stinging, attacking or otherwise molesting others including pedestrians, bicyclists, motor vehicle passengers or domestic animals
  • Hive placement and related bee movement such that the bees, without provocation, interfere with the freedom of movement of persons in a public right of way, or the location of the bees poses a threat to the general safety, health and welfare of the general public
  • The keeping of overcrowded, diseased or abandoned hives

For more information on the procedures of filing a complaint or the Town’s action from a complaint, please feel free to visit Cary’s Town Code of Ordinances and refer to Section 6-71a.

Who do I call to report if my neighbor has domestic bees without a permit or nuisance bees?

The keeping of domestic bees without an approved permit is a zoning violation. If you observe beekeeping that appears to be occurring without an approved permit, you can contact your local Zoning Compliance Officer (ZCO) or the Planning and Development Services Department at (919) 469-4082.  Nuisance bees should immediately be reported to the Animal Control Division of the Cary Police Department at (919) 319-4517.

Where can I go to learn more about the ordinance?

For more information, please feel free to visit the Land Development Ordinance (LDO) or contact the Planning and Development Services Department at (919) 469-4082.