All beekeepers, whether backyard, hobbyist, or commercial, who managed five or more colonies (not including nucs) within the state at any point during the previous (last) year are now required to register with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). This is the result of House Bill 3362, which modified Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 602 and the subsequent adoption of Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 603-055 by the ODA. The registration fee is $10 plus 50 cents per colony, due June 1. There is a grace period, but on July 1 the fee becomes $20 plus 50 cents per colony. The registration is for one year and must be made each year if the beekeeper had five or more colonies during the previous year. Once the registration application is completed and filed, the registration year will run from July 1 of the current year to June 30 of the following year.
Previously only those beekeepers engaged in commercial pollination were required to register, and the money collected by the ODA went into the agency’s general operating budget. The new law and rules make it clear that the money from the new registration fees “shall be spent on pollinator research that is predominantly focused on honeybees.” The ODA agreed with the OSBA that most (all) of the collected money will go to the Oregon State University (OSU) Honey Bee Laboratory and the ODA will not use any of the money for their administrative costs. Members of the OSBA met with the ODA and requested that specific language for our agreement be included in the OAR. The ODA proposed the addition, but the Department of Justice attorney assigned to the ODA said the agency did not have the authority to include it in the OAR. Nonetheless, the ODA said it will honor the agreement and look to adding the language to the ORS in the future.
It should be noted that the ODA not only will not receive any money for administrative costs but also will use no money for enforcement (at least at the present time). This does not mean you should ignore the law as it is a legal requirement and there are benefits to registering. Registering might serve to strengthen your position as a responsible beekeeper should a legal issue arise. In addition, you will receive notifications from the ODA on matters relating to beekeeping, such as the registration of a new Varroa mite control, and the money will go to OSU for research on honey bees.
You may register by going to https://apps.oregon.gov/sos/licensedirectory/licensedetail/606 and filling out the application form online or downloading and mailing it to the ODA. You may also request a hard copy by calling the ODA Insect Pest Prevention and Management Program at (503) 986-4636.
Note: The number of colonies often fluctuates throughout a given year. The number of colonies that must be registered is equal to the highest number of full-strength colonies managed within the state at any point during the previous year, prior to the registration deadline of June 1.
Statute, Chapter 602 — Bees: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/ors/ors602.html
Rules, Division 55 — Bees and Oregon Standards of Bee Colony Strength for Colonies Used in Commercial Pollination of Crops: http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_600/oar_603/603_055.html
You can also check out Apiary Registration FAQs from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.