How to Import Bees and Beeswax into the U.S.

If you want to import bees into the U.S., you’ll need to make sure that you’re careful—and not because of the bees. Getting your shipment detained in customs stings, so you’ll have to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and regulations. Thankfully, with USA Customs Clearance on your s

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Julia Hecht
June 9, 2020
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If you want to import bees into the U.S., you’ll need to make sure that you’re careful—and not because of the bees. Getting your shipment detained in customs stings, so you’ll have to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and regulations. Thankfully, with USA Customs Clearance on your side, you’ll have all the knowledge and resources you need to be successful. 

To import bees into the U.S., you will need to make sure that the type of bee and the origin country are cleared for import into the U.S. Your bees will also need to be inspected and issued a Honey Bee Export Certificate from the exporting country. Beeswax is similarly regulated. 

USA Customs Clearance has the answers you’re looking for when it comes to importing bees and beeswax into the U.S. Our customs clearance experts and Licensed Customs Brokers offer customs consulting services to provide you with all of the information you need. 

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.
Get the details you need with our import consulting services.

Standard U.S. Customs Clearance Documents

Standard U.S. Customs Clearance Documents

In order to import anything into the U.S., you’re going to need to prepare some documents to send with your shipment. This applies to any type of commodity, including bees. 

Those requirements are:

  • A commercial invoice
  • A packing list
  • A Bill of Lading (BOL) 
  • An arrival notice

You may also end up needing a customs bond, which is a type of insurance agreement that ensures the Customs and Border Protection gets paid for all applicable duties and taxes. An import requires a customs bond if it is valued at more than $2,500, if it is intended for commercial purposes, or if it is regulated by another government agency.

Because live bees are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), your bee shipment will need to be accompanied by a customs bond. 

Go ahead and buy a customs bond today
and get your freight on the way around the globe.

How to Import Bees into the U.S.

The very first thing you need to be aware of when it comes to importing honeybees, also known by their scientific name Apis Mellifera, is that you are only allowed to import bees into the U.S. from either Canada or New Zealand—and that’s it. The only time you can import bees from other places is if it is for research purposes only.  

The shipment of bees into the U.S. is regulated by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). That agency issues several regulations on the behalf of the U.S., but it also works with the agricultural agencies from the exporting countries to ensure the shipment is compliant. 

When preparing bees for shipping, you need to be aware that you cannot move an entire hive. You have to package only queen bees and some attendant bees along with them, but moving an entire hive is prohibited. Packages of bees should be packaged and handled carefully to ensure the bees (and any bee pests) are well contained and unable to escape during their trip.

You can never import the following to the U.S.:

  • Dead bees
  • Honey for bee feeding
  • Beeswax for beekeeping
  • Pollen used for bee feeding
  • Used beekeeping equipment

However, if you obtain the proper permit, you are allowed to import royal jelly to the U.S. for bee feeding or scientific reasons. 

You should always check the General Shipping Requirements for Honey Bee Importing to make certain both the country and the bees you seek to import into the U.S. are on the list. Follow the following honey bee shipping requirements to make sure your shipment passes through customs without incident:

  • Non-stop flights only for bees coming to the U.S. for bee importing inspections
  • Provide full flight information
  • Notify APHIS headquarters of your bee shipment 10 days before importing begins. Include the full name, address, and phone numbers of both the consignee and consignor.
  • You need a honey bee import certificate from the birthplace of the bees, along with a manifest detailing your entire shipment.
  • Have a “Live Bees” sticker on every side of the package. Letters must be at least 1-inch tall.

You must submit a 10-day notification and a zoo sanitary certificate to the APHIS before the package arrives in the U.S. This mandate exists for express package delivery services too.

If you're importing honey instead of bees or beeswax, there's an entirely separate lists of rules and regulations to follow. To learn more, check out our article Importing Honey to the U.S.

Bee Inspection Procedure

Bee Inspection Procedure

The original colonies from which the bees came from should be inspected by the origin country’s agricultural authority 10 days prior to shipping. After a passed inspection, you will be given a Honey Bee Export Certificate that you must include with the shipment. 

The exporting country is responsible for conducting the initial inspection, and the export health certificate they issue must outline any diseases, subspecies, or parasites that were found during an inspection. Shipments will be refused entry if they contain alarming diseases such as the Thai sacbrood virus or the varroa mite, which could wreak havoc on domestic bee populations. 

Schedule an inspection and a transfer for pickup of your bee imports once the bees arrive at the airport.

Regulations for Importing Beeswax into the U.S.

Beeswax has many purposes in the U.S., but as stated above, beeswax for beekeeping is prohibited from entering the U.S. from foreign countries. However, beeswax is an important element of many cosmetic products, and as long as your beeswax is being imported for manufacturing, then it will be allowed entry to the United States. 

Beeswax is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regardless of whether the final product is considered a cosmetic or a drug. The classification for the product is important, however, since that could have different implications for your shipment. 

Cosmetics are things such as moisturizers, creams, and beauty products, but those products could be labeled as drugs if they advertise properties like UV protection, anti-aging, dandruff reduction, eczema treatment, or other health and restorative claims. Take a look at how the FDA determines what is a cosmetic and what is a drug, and how the import regulations are different for each one. 

Import Bees and Beeswax with USA Customs Clearance

The regulations to import bees into the U.S. can seem pretty imposing, especially for new importers. Importing live animals of any kind comes with really strict rules, and making mistakes in the process can have serious consequences for you and your bees. Instead of struggling through the process alone, why not get some help from an experienced professional? 

Licensed customs brokers with USA Customs Clearance, powered by AFC International, are experts in the field of importing, and they can take care of all the responsibilities of importing for you. Just sign over the power of attorney, and your customs broker can deal with regulations, submit paperwork, and communicate with CBP all on your behalf. Not ready to give up that much responsibility? You can schedule import consulting sessions with a customs broker instead, and get all the information you need to import bees into the U.S.

To learn more about our services, give us a call today at (855) 912-0406.

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.
Get the details you need with our import consulting services.
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