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I want to be a beekeeper. What procedures should I carry out in Spain?

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Before beginning to describe the steps to be taken to become a beekeeper, we must say that the current legislation differentiates between three types of beekeepers.

  • Amateur beekeepers: They have less than 15 or 20 hives (this number of hives depends on the Autonomous Community). They can consume the honey themselves and even sell it, as long as the sale or barter is direct between the amateur beekeeper and the consumer, through a nearby intermediary or their e-commerce page on the Internet, up to a total of 5,000 kg or income less than 8,000 euros. It is not necessary to register with the Economic Activities Tax (Tax Agency), so you will not be able to carry out operations subject to VAT, you will not be able to invoice sales or deduct VAT from expenses related to operations related to the activity.
  • Non-professional beekeepers: They exceed the number of hives of an amateur beekeeper, but they do not have more than 150 hives. In this case, proceed as indicated in this article.
  • Professional beekeepers: They have more than 150 hives, and supposedly they can keep beekeeping as their only economic activity. They can access subsidies linked to production. Also in this case, proceed with the steps indicated in this article.

Every year, many people start as a beekeeper. One of the most recurrent questions is what procedures should I carry out in beekeeping to start the activity.

(This procedure may vary in each region or autonomous community of Spain)

beekeeper checking bees frame
Beekeeper checking his bees

To legally practice beekeeping, you must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  1. Registration as self-employed with the activity of beekeeper in the Census Declaration of Economic Activities in the Tax Agency (it is not necessary to have hives, EG: a beekeeping advisor). Except for amateur beekeepers, as indicated at the beginning of the article.
  2. Obtain a Livestock Exploitation Code: When they are going to have hives, regardless of the type of beekeeper.

For the registration of any livestock farm, the owner of the farm must go to the Veterinary Official Services of the corresponding OCAS (Regional Agricultural Offices), depending on where it is going to be located, and fill out an application for registration in the Official Registry.

This request must be accompanied by the following documentation:

  • Photocopy of the breeder’s DNI; in the case of companies, by-laws of the company and NIF of the representative.
  • Municipal Activity License (or Municipal Authorization in the case of few hives).
  • Justification of the ability to occupy the land of the exploitation either by property deed or cadastral certificate or, if it is by means of a lease, a contract that justifies it and the landlord’s NIF. Polygon and plot of said land.
  • Report of the veterinarian responsible for the farm that it meets the requirements in terms of animal health and biosecurity on the farm and animal welfare.
  • Payment of a fee for form 046.

If the settlement is located on a property that you own, it is enough to attach the documents that prove it, as proof of the cadastre or receipt of the IBI, in whose documents the number of polygon, property and precinct must appear.

When the farm is owned by another person, you must request their consent in writing, and accompany a document that proves their ownership. If the estate has several heirs, the authorization of one of them will suffice.

Procedures to have hives in the field

Designation of the veterinarian and the Veterinary Memory

The future farmer-beekeeper chooses a veterinarian to take responsibility for his livestock (bees). All breeders are obliged to this appointment. The most common options are to select the veterinarian from the provincial association of beekeepers, from an agricultural union or from a Surveillance Unit.

The veterinarian must carry out a Beekeeping Report indicating the location of the settlement, the number of starting hives, the maximum number of hives that may be located in the settlement, compliance with the distances with respect to population centres or farmers, roads, farms, etc.

It will also include the commitment to keep the Farm Record Book up to date and to carry out the treatments related to the Notifiable Diseases (EDS), such as varroasis.

Town Hall permit procedures

It is necessary to obtain the permission of the City Council where we will carry out the activity. If it is not an agricultural town, the permit will be strange to them.

(It is advisable to bring a model text to the city council to authorize the practice under the conditions indicated by law) It will also be very useful to provide a copy of the Report signed by the veterinarian.

The city council can simply deny you that permission, set impossible conditions, or give permission without problems. In Castilla La Mancha they usually let you put hives, specifying that they have to comply with current regulations.

In any case, it is advisable that the veterinarian who signs the report is the owner of the town hall to smooth out difficulties and do some personal management.

three beekeepers

Beekeeper’s Farmer’s Exploitation Code

With all the previous documents, the application for registration of the main settlement is made, and if everything is in order, an exploitation code will be assigned with which the activity is authorized.

Subsequently, the OCA provides a record book where the hives are registered, discharged, sanitary treatments and movements.

You may be interested in reading: https://www.ecocolmena.org/top-10-mistakes-a-novice-beekeeper-makes/

Social Security and beekeeping

It is important to notify the Social Security office that you are going to carry out a beekeeping activity, even if you are paying for another type of activity or profession, whether self-employed or employed.

Contingencies for occupational disease or work accidents are only valid if the Social Security has registered such activity.

The fee to pay to Social Security is not the sum of the activities, for example IT + beekeeper, but rather the fee that has the highest value is paid.

hands and bees

Beekeeper insurance policies, a necessary procedure

It is also very convenient to have civil liability insurance for the practice of Beekeeping, taking into account that:

  • To secure a hive, it must be “registered”. (Have assigned a code of exploitation, identification and registration of bees and hives registered.)
  • Farms or settlements in which the number of hives is less than 8 cannot be insured.

Provincial beekeepers associations offer group beehive insurance. They generally include the following coverages:

  • Civil liability insurance ; with a price for associates that is around €0.30 / hive
  • Insurance with extended guarantees, civil liability, theft, fire, and vandalism or poisoning; with a price close to €1 / Beehive.

Summary of procedures for beekeeper

The Regional Agrarian Offices or similar delegations have veterinarians who register the livestock exploitation code after physically inspecting the main settlement of the new beekeeper.

Documents to go to the OCA

  • Photocopy of the DNI of the holder of the apicultural settlement (the beekeeper)
  • Authorization of the owner of the land where the apiary will be located as the main settlement. This authorization must include the number of polygons, farm, enclosure and name of the place.
  • Photocopy of the DNI of the owner of the property.
  • Veterinarian designation sheet.
  • Veterinary Report, which describes the future farm, endorsed by the veterinarian chosen by the beekeeper.
  • Authorization from the town hall of the main settlement.
bees and beekeeper

More information

To manage registration with the Regional Agrarian Office, you must first pay a fee through a bank office, attaching proof of income to the registration form.

The form will indicate all the data of the owner of the livestock farm (the beekeeper) and the details of the main settlement, as well as those of other secondary settlements.

Also, the maximum number of hives to be located in each settlement should be indicated.

Finally, an OCA veterinarian will visit the settlement to verify compliance with laws related to beekeeping and the suitability of the site for bee health.

Firma Articulo tecnico de Ecocolmena
Manzano, Jesús. Experto en "Ciencia detrás del comportamiento de las abejas" (2022). Manual de Apicultura en Sistemas de Producción Ecológica (4a. ed.). España, Guadalajara: Ecocolmena. Profesor de apicultura y perito judicial en apicultura - Socio fundador de Ecocolmena


Manzano, Jesús. Experto en «Ciencia detrás del comportamiento de las abejas» (2013). Autor del Manual de Apicultura en Sistemas de Producción Ecológica (4a. ed.). España, Guadalajara: Ecocolmena. Profesor de apicultura y perito judicial en apicultura – Socio fundador de Ecocolmena

2 respuestas

  1. Hello there,
    My wife and I are moving to Dolores, Alicante. permanently this October and want to set everything (beekeeping related) up for spring next year, we are going to be over there for 3 weeks at Easter, with another short visit pencilled in before we make the final move. It will be a hobby for me, and I will only have one or two hives, there will be no public access to them as I have a fenced off area in my back garden. In an article shared on facebook I have been made aware of requirements that I must fulfil, such as obtaining a Livestock Exploitation Code it also mentioned that I need to go to Veterinary Official Services of the corresponding OCAS (Regional Agricultural Offices). On the risk of sounding really silly. Where would be the best place for me to start please, should I go to the town hall in the first instance and tell them my intentions, would they then point me in the right direction?

    1. Hi Kevin,

      I am a very new beekeeper, so new I haven’t got any bees yet. I saw your question on this forum, and I wondered how you have got on.

      I live relatively near to you in Pinar de Campoverde, Alicante. If possible I would like to hear where you got your bees from and if possible to meet up to pick your brains on all things bee keeping.

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