Policy Analysis | April 2018

Apiculture and Land Use Valuation

Anne Roberts Brody

Apiculture - the maintenance of honeybees and hives - provides farmers and hobbyists with a variety of enterprises including production of beeswax, honey and other edible bee products; crop pollination services and sale of bees to other beekeepers. Due to the extensive problems caused by various diseases and pests of the honeybee, many feral or wild honeybees have been eliminated, which has had a significant negative impact on the pollination of flowering plants.

The domestic honeybee plays a vital role in agriculture. Honeybees pollinate many of the plants which produce the food consumed by humankind. Examples of plants pollinated by honeybees include almonds, apples, blueberries, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. The rapid decline of feral honeybees has greatly increased the need for managed honeybees to serve this crucial role of plant pollination.

Because of the important linkages between apian populations and agricultural production, many states in the Southern region extend a “current use” exemption to bee keepers. Current use valuation allows the valuation of agricultural land to be based on the actual use of the property, rather than market value. Of the 15 states comprising the Southern Legislative Conference, six explicitly include apiaries or apian products in the statutory definition of agricultural purposes/land eligible for a current use valuation.

Information relative to the six Southern states that designate apiaries as agricultural land is outlined below.

States with Apiaries Designated as Agricultural Land
State Definition Citation Type
Alabama Agricultural and forest property: all real property used for raising, harvesting, and selling crops or for the feeding, breeding, management, raising, sale of, or the production of livestock, including beef cattle, sheep, swine, horses, ponies, mules, poultry, fur-bearing animals, honeybees, and fish, or for dairying and the sale of dairy products, or for the growing and sale of timber and forest products, or any other agricultural or horticultural use or animal husbandry and any combination thereof. Code of Ala. § 40-8-1 Current Use
Florida Agricultural purposes: includes, but is not limited to, horticulture; floriculture; viticulture; forestry; dairy; livestock; poultry; bee; pisciculture, if the land is used principally for the production of tropical fish; aquaculture, including algaculture; sod farming; and all forms of farm products as defined in s. 823.14(3) and farm production. Fla. Stat. § 193.461 Classified Use*
Georgia Tangible real property which is devoted to 'bona fide agricultural purposes: tangible real property, the primary use of which is good faith commercial production from or on the land of agricultural products, including horticultural, floricultural, forestry, dairy, livestock, poultry, and apiarian products and all other forms of farm products. O.C.G.A. § 48-5-7.1 Current Use
Texas 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. Tex. Tax Code § 23.51 Current Use
Virginia According to 2VAC5-20-20 of the "Standards for Classification of Real Estate Devoted to Agricultural Use and to Horticultural Use Under the Virginia Land Use Assessment Law," real estate devoted to "bees and apiary products" can be considered a qualifying use. 2 VAC 5-20-20 Current Use or Previous Use
West Virginia Farming purposes: the utilization of land to produce for sale, consumption or use, any agricultural products, including, but not limited to, livestock, poultry, fruit, vegetables, grains or hays or any of the products derived from any of the foregoing, tobacco, syrups, honey, and any and all horticultural and nursery stock, Christmas trees, all sizes of ornamental trees, sod, seed and any and all similar commodities or products including farm wood lots and the parts of a farm which are lands lying fallow, or in timber or in wastelands. W. Va. Code § 11-1A-3 Farm Use

* Classified use and current use are functionally equivalent, as the difference lies in state terminology, not in valuation.