The Impact of the Apiary Act of 1995 on Restrictive Covenants
August 5, 2013

We have dealt with some weighty topics of late on this forum.  It is time to lighten the fare.

Have you ever wondered whether the Tennessee Apiary Act of 1995, Tenn. Code § 44-15-101, et seq., supersedes or otherwise renders a recorded covenant in a CCR unenforceable?  Aside from providing that a state apiarist shall be appointed, see Tenn. Code § 44-15-103(a), the Apiary Act provides in Tenn. Code § 44-15-124 that no county, municipality, consolidated government, or other political subdivision of the state shall adopt or continue in effect any ordinance or resolution prohibiting the establishment or maintenance of honeybees in hives, provided that such establishment is in compliance with the Apiary Act.

Yes, Tennessee has a law about bee-keeping.  Who knew?

The Honorable Glen Casada, a Tennessee State Representative, requested an opinion from the Tennessee State Attorney General as to whether the provisions of the Act supersede or otherwise render a recorded covenant in a CCR unenforceable and whether an existing hive is grandfathered and otherwise protected from subsequent private restrictive covenants.

On January 7, 2013, the Office of the Tennessee Attorney General issued Opinion 13-02 formally answering these questions.  It found that the Apiary Act does not apply to restrictive covenants adopted by homeowners’ associations.   Additionally, it found that the Apiary Act address zoning concerns and not private restrictive covenants.  Thus, subsequently authorized private restrictive covenants can prohibit existing honeybee hives.  Simply put, an association can prohibit bee-keeping.

While such opinions are not case law or statutes, they are persuasive authority.  The opinion provides an excellent analysis of the issue.

Sorry, bees…

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