Beekeeping in public areas in the City

Beekeeping is allowed in parks and areas in Helsinki with some restrictions. Establishing a bee farm in a public area requires permission from the City of Helsinki. The objective of this process is to ensure the safest possible co-existence of residents and bees. On this page, you can find instructions on how to establish a small-scale bee farm in a public area in the city. Some of the content is only available in Finnish.
A beekeeper in the park.
Photo: Aleksi Poutanen

Before applying for a permit

Beekeepers are responsible for safety concerning their farm, the condition of the farm and its surroundings, the health and well-being of the bees, and food safety – this also includes costs.

It is especially important to prevent swarming in an urban setting. In terms of safety, the location of the bee farm and the selection of the right breed of bees for urban farms, as well as the good and active maintenance of the bee farm are key. A content bee colony rarely needs to swarm. Docile bee breeds with no intense tendency to swarm are best suited for urban farming.

Beekeepers must familiarise themselves with urban bee farming and comply with good farming practice. The Stadin tarhaajien opas(Link leads to external service) (guide for beekeepers in Helsinki, in Finnish) provides more information on urban beekeeping.

You can find more information on bee farming in Finland on the Finnish Beekeepers' Association website(Link leads to external service). We recommend attending the basic course for beekeepers.

You should reserve plenty of time for learning more about beekeeping, looking for a good location and applying for a permit. The best time to apply for a permit is in the winter.

The location of your bee farm must be planned carefully in an urban environment, because the farm may pose safety risks. The well-being of people is paramount, when the City assesses the proposed location.

Placing beehives in your own garden, on your plot or on a plot rented from the City does not require a permit from the City. You should, however, consult your neighbours. Establishing a bee farm on an individual allotment garden plot requires an agreement with the local association. You must always report to the register of keepers of animals (eläintenpitäjärekisteri) in accordance with the instructions issued by the Finnish Food Authority. Primary production places and food establishments must be reported to the City of Helsinki, when necessary.

Suitable locations for bee farms in public areas include:

  • parks
  • landscape fields and urban meadows
  • public areas in allotment gardens. You also need permission from the association in charge of the area.
  • Roofs and terraces of buildings owned by the City. 

You can find information on selecting the location for your farm in the practical tips for urban bee farming (in Finnish) provided by Stadin tarhaajat(Link leads to external service). Furthermore, the following must be taken into account in public areas in Helsinki:

  • Hives may not be placed near daycare centres, schools or playgrounds.
  • Bee farms must be placed in nature discreetly to prevent vandalism.
  • If the bee farm is located in an open area, warning signs must be put in place. The signs must be agreed with the City. The beekeeper is responsible for the signs.
  • The beehives must be at least 10 metres away from public access routes. The opening of the hive must primarily be directed away from the access route. If this is not possible, a fence or bush must be placed in front of the hive to direct the bees to fly upwards.

Applying for a permit

The City of Helsinki will decide whether to rent the land for a bee farm at the location proposed by the applicant.

No rent will be charged for the location.

If necessary, the decision may include special provisions on fencing the hives, for example. The City may also suggest an alternative location.

The applicant may propose a suitable rent period. The permit is granted for up to five years. The period of notice is three months.

The activities must be classified as a hobby – industrial beekeeping is not allowed. An individual farm may contain up to five beehives.

The permit must be applied for by the beekeeper who is in charge of the bees. An association, for example, may not submit an application.
The prerequisite for the permit is that the applicant submits the necessary notifications to the register of animal keepers in accordance with instructions issued by the Finnish Food Authority.

Apply for the permit using the application for renting land areas

You must attach a map of the proposed bee farm location or locations to the application (attachment 3). The other attachments mentioned in the application are not necessary.

The suitability of the location proposed on the application will be assessed on site during the initial inspection. The inspection is scheduled in advance over the phone.

The City will contact the applicant concerning the inspection when the application is being processed. If the inspection is held after the permit is granted, the applicant must contact the City of Helsinki Land Use and Monitoring Unit by e-mail to organise the inspection: opens default mail program)

The inspection must be held before the farming can begin.

After receiving the permit

The beekeeping and beekeeping location must be reported to the register of animal keepers in accordance with instructions issued by the Finnish Food Authority. An individual animal keeping ID will be issued for the bee farm based on the registration. The authorities need to know the location of the bee farm in order to prevent contagious animal diseases form spreading, for example.

Finnish Food Authority: Eläinten merkitseminen ja rekisteröinti (Marking and registering animals, in Finnish)(Link leads to external service)

The beekeeper is responsible for the food safety of the honey they produce.

The production, extraction and packaging of honey are considered food primary production, which must comply with the provisions of the Primary Production Decree. The decree contains concessions for annual honey production of less than 2,500 kg.

The Finnish Food Authority website contains information on the provisions on primary production and requirements concerning the food production of honey(Link leads to external service) (in Finnish).

The Finnish Beekeepers' Association has drafted instructions on good practices concerning honey production, which have been assessed by the Finnish Food Authority. In addition to food hygiene, the instructions contain information on beekeeping and protecting the farm from animal diseases. Hyvän käytännön ohjeet mehiläistarhauksessa(Link leads to external service) (pdf, in Finnish).

You must report a primary production place to the City of Helsinki Food Safety Unit, if:

  • you gift or sell honey outside your immediate family or
  • your bee farm is located in a public area and has more than two hives.

Notification of primary production

You must also submit a notification of a food establishment to the City of Helsinki Food Safety Unit, if you:

  • sell more than 2,500 kg of honey directly to consumers annually;
  • buy honey from another producer to extract and package, and do not return the extracted and packaged honey to the producer; or
  • refine honey to make food products or add ingredients to honey.

Registering a food business

Mark the location of the bee farm and the hives clearly with the contact details of the beekeeper.

Keep the hives and their surroundings clean.

Transport any waste generated by cleaning the hives and dead bees away from the farm.

You must not keep any beekeeping or honey collection equipment on the farm.

After the farming has ended, the beekeeper is responsible for removing the hives and any equipment from the area and leaving the area clean.

Bees are domestic animals and they are protected by the Animal Welfare Act. The beekeeper is in charge of taking care of the health and well-being of the bees.

According to the Animal Diseases Act, the beekeeper is obliged to protect their farm from animal diseases. If you suspect an animal disease subject to legislation, such as foul brood, you are obliged to report it to the City of Helsinki Food Safety Unit or Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland(Link leads to external service) (in Finnish).

Further information on animal diseases on the Finnish Food Authority website: Bee diseases(Link leads to external service) (in Finnish).

The beekeeper has primary responsibility for catching their runaway bee swarm. More information on catching swarms of bees and help with catching bees:

You must report ending your bee farming operations to the City of Helsinki and the register of animal keepers in accordance with instructions issued by the Finnish Food Authority: