Can I really get an "Ag Exemption" by putting honey bees on my land?
In Texas, if you own more than 5 acres of rural or residential land, you may apply for a special "Open Space" land valuation for raising honey bees on your property and save thousands on your property taxes each year!
Having honey bee colonies managed on your land may qualify you (whether you own them yourself or someone else owns them and manages them for you) for a 1-d-1 Open Space special land valuation (commonly called "Ag Exemption") under specific conditions, as listed under the Texas Tax Code Chapter 23, Subchapter D, Sect. 23.51 (1) and (2) as well as your County Appraisal District's specific Land Valuation Rules (each local appraisal district can set their own standards and requirements for the beekeeping valuation within the context of the Texas Tax Code), because the Texas Constitution permits special agricultural appraisal if the land meets specific requirements defining farm and ranch use. This can be achieved by "using the land to raise or keep bees for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value."
In effect, your land will be valued at a lower price because it is being used for agricultural related activities and the production of honey, propolis or wax.
Some of the qualifying management practices include hosting hives populated with colonies of honey bees, having an adequate water supply for the colonies and adequate management of the equipment for the person caring for the hives (such as protective clothing, smoker, honey filters and other honey processing equipment). In most counties, the minimum number of hives to qualify is six (6) for the first 5 acres, with additional hives per additional qualifying acre (up to 20) - at which stage the Texas Apiary Inspection Service requires registration of the apiary (bee yard).
By the way: if you currently have an "Ag Exemption" on your land using, say, livestock; but do not want to continue to manage that livestock or would prefer an activity that has less impact on your land, then you may switch to having honey bee colonies managed on it instead and still keep your special land valuation.
How much can I save on my taxes? Is it really worth it?
While the amount you save will vary based on the county you are in and the amount of land qualifying, the savings can be so great that you can save thousands every year on your property taxes, while increasing your property value at resale ("Ag Exempt" land is very sought after). In addition, after you have obtained your Open Space Land Valuation, you may qualify as early as a year later to convert your land to Wildlife Management Valuation, possibly on less than 20 acres as it can be transfered under certain conditions.
As an example, and because of the much lower valuation on the land, one of our customers will be saving over $10,000 in yearly taxes on their 7-acre lot in Driftwood, TX (going from $12,000 per year to $1,500 per year despite a homestead on the land: that's almost 90%). The savings are so big that landowners are willing to pay up to 25% of their yearly savings to have someone keep them qualified each year!
How can I get this special land valuation and save money on my taxes?
The first thing you need to know is that, as the landowner, you do NOT have to own the bees and hives yourself: you may instead choose to go turn-key and lease the bees from a beekeeper who may:
set up your apiary (complete with hives and bees),
do all the management work for you (including at harvest and bottling time)
help you keep the accurate and complete records that you will need to qualify
even help you file the application for you with your Appraisal District
In practice, to simplify the process, many people prefer to use beehive rental and consulting services rather than purchase and manage their own, which can be quite costly and daunting for non-beekeepers.
Others may want to transition gently into beekeeping by trying their hand at beekeeping with a mentor before making the commitment to own their own beehives: a single healthy hive in mid-summer can have upward of 50,000 happy residents, which can be intimidating at first.
Finally, some ambitious souls may take the plunge and buy their own equipment and bees, get training in beekeeping, set up their own apiary and manage their own colonies and harvest.
Whatever your choice, we can help with consulting services, bees and equipment, and training/education classes: contact us at BeeMindfulHoneyFarms@gmail.com or below to ask your questions or to get on our list of customers!
What's the catch?
If you do not currently have an "AG Exemption" on your land, then you will need to set up and document 5 years of continuing agricultural/beekeeping use before you can obtain your new land valuation and see the reduction in taxes.
We can help you by providing hives, bees, equipment, consulting services; and even help you apply for this special land valuation. Contact us for more details!