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The Buzz on Honey Bees in Washington


 Washington State supports honey bee industry with sales tax exemptions.

It’s a good year to be a honey beekeeper in Washington State, where the legislature has a specific public policy to support the honey bee industry and provide tax relief to eligible apiarists. Lawmakers have called out the fact that 80% of the nation’s flowering crops, which include agricultural crops, are pollinated by honey bees. The legislature has taken the stance that if anyone deserves a helping hand, it’s the honey bees and the humans who support them. They are, after all, “an integral part of food production.”

Therefore, effective July 1, 2015, eligible apiarists are considered to be “farmers” for excise tax purposes. Under Washington law, an eligible apiarist is a person who does all of the following:

  • Owns or keeps one or more bee colonies
  • Grows, raises or produces honey bee products for sale at wholesale
  • Registers under RCW 15.60.021

A “farmer” in Washington now includes “the growing, raising, or producing honey bee products for sale, or providing bee pollination services, by an eligible apiarist. A natural extension of this is to expand the definition of “agricultural product” to include honey bee products, which it now does.

Tax exemptions

Honey beekeepers are eligible for a retail sales tax exemption on replacement parts and repair services, provided the farmer meets all of the following requirements:

  • Grows, raises or produces honey bee products for sale
  • Provides bee pollination services
  • Has an annual gross income of more than $10,000 from sales

The following are exempt from Washington B&O taxes:

  • Bee pollination services provided by an eligible apiarist to a farmer
  • Bee sales by eligible apiarists to farmers for providing bee pollination services

See ESSB 6057.SL, Part XI, Sec. 1101 or the Washington Department of Revenue’s special notice for honey beekeepers for additional information.

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photo credit: p-7613 via photopin (license)


Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.