Generally accepted agricultural and management practices for honey bees
The Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs) for the Care of Farm Animals include recommendations for managing honey bees.
Michigan beekeepers who generate some income from their beekeeping activities each year are protected under the Right to Farm Act, just like other farmers and ranchers. This protection means that beekeepers have some support from nuisance complaints made through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). If a beekeeper receives a nuisance complaint, MDARD can respond and evaluate the activities of the beekeeper to determine if they are following best practices, which can help in the beekeeper’s defense. Michigan Best Practices are known as the Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices (GAAMPs).
There are many different sections of the GAAMPs, ranging from manure management to irrigation. Everything pertaining to beekeeping is in the GAAMPs for the Care of Farm Animals. The recommendations outlined in the GAAMPs are not regulations or laws, but they do provide guidance on caring for honey bees and reducing disturbance to nearby properties. The GAAMPs are designed to protect farmers who have communities developing around them and to help guide farmers in being good neighbors in their communities. The GAAMPs for honey bee care include recommendations to prevent bees from becoming a nuisance to others and to ensure that the honey bees are getting the care that they require.
Beekeepers who follow the recommendations outlined in the GAAMPs who receive a nuisance complaint can request a letter from Michigan Right to Farm describing their adherence to the GAAMPs. While adherence to the GAAMPs does not act as a complete barrier to complaints or lawsuits, it does provide an umbrella of protection from nuisance litigation. In addition to conformance to the GAAMPs, farmers also need to comply with all state and federal environmental and agricultural laws.
The GAAMPs have to be reviewed every year, a process that includes a committee of scientific advisors, many from Michigan State University, and the individuals from MDARD Right to Farm. Each year, the committee meets to review the previous year’s GAAMPS. They revise their sections based on new articles or resources in the scientific literature, input from the industry, and previous year nuisance complaints. The committee submits changes in the summer, and the revision is then available for public comment. After all the comments are received, the committee works to incorporate public input. In the fall, the GAAMPs advisory committee chairperson presents the proposed GAAMPs to MDARD, which accepts them for the next year.
If you would like to comment or provide recommendations on the honey bee chapter, you can reach out to MDARD. Remember that the purpose of the GAAMPs is to have measurable guidelines that MDARD uses to investigate complaints. It is not designed to cover all policy aspects of beekeeping in Michigan. If you are interested in other policies or recommendations, consider working with the Michigan Beekeepers Association’s Legislative committee.
If you have questions on the Michigan Right to Farm act, or if you would like to request a GAAMPs assessment, please contact:
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Right to Farm Program
P.O. Box 30017
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: 517-284-5619, 877-632-1783
Thank you to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for reviewing and contributing language for this article.