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Benefit of Bees

15 Jun 2022
by Bownds Ranches

What’s all the BUZZ about?

By now, you’ve probably heard that bees are overall good for the environment and agriculture. Over the years, much has been made about the dire situations we might face if the bee population is significantly reduced, and how it can negatively impact production of thousands of different crops and plants. While none of this is news, you may not have known that bees can be extremely helpful at reducing your property taxes on Texas ranches, farms, and land.

In this month’s blog post, we’ll look at some of the tax benefits of bees in Texas for ranch, farm, and landowners.

Bees Qualify Your Property for an “Ag Exemption”

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.

Honey sales are not required

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to set up a tent at the local farmers market and sell your yield in order to qualify for the ag exemption (although you certainly could. There’s good money to be made in selling locally sourced honey). The sale of the products is not a requirement by the state. You simply have to produce food or other tangible products having a commercial value. The key word is “produce”. You can consume it, gift it, sell it – whatever you’d like. The choice is totally up to you.

However, there is a small technicality here; when you apply with the appraisal district you will be applying for a 1-D-1 valuation. There is an old 1-D valuation that requires profit. It does not apply to you.

Selling Locally Sourced Honey

You Don’t Have to Become a Beekeeper

Not sure you’re cut out to take on the role of beekeeper? That’s okay! Appraisal districts allow you to have someone else manage bees on your land without disqualifying your exemption. You may be able to find beekeepers in your part of the state to provide and work bees for you.

There are many ways to find beekeepers who will sell or lease colonies to you that will help you qualify for the ag exemption. You can always do a search online for local beekeepers (like PachaMama Bees or the Texas Honey Bee Farm in the Austin area, BeeWeaver Farms or Brenham Bees in the College Station area, or the Charlie Bee Company in New Braunfels), or you could use a larger-scale bee finding service that specifically caters to colony leasing, like Lease Honey.

Ag Exemptions Can Save You Serious Money

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 transferred under certain conditions. If your property is currently ag exempt because you have a history of agricultural use, it is immediately eligible to move to beekeeping.

However, there is one very important part of the ag exemption to be aware of – if you land is currently valued as ag, if you don’t maintain ag usage, you can be hit with rollback taxes. Rollback tax is the difference between the tax at market value and ag production value… for 5 years! Don’t let this happen to you.

In addition to the positive environmental impact that housing bees can have, adding colonies to your property in Texas and qualifying for the ag exemption can help you save thousands on your property taxes each year. Even if your property is already qualified as ag exempt, you can switch to beekeeping and maintain your exemption with much less overhead than most other livestock (bees don’t need fences or range cubes, after all).

Little tips and tricks like this are just another reason to work with an experienced Texas land broker for your ranch property needs. With over two decades of professional experience, Bownds Ranches can help you not only purchase or sell your ranch, but also save on the property taxes and expenses in the process. Contact our team today for more information and put our experience to work for you.