Shipping Requirements to Import Adult Honey Bees to the Continental United States from New Zealand

Last Modified: February 21, 2024

The following are general shipping requirements for the importation of adult honey bees to the Continental United States from New Zealand:

  • Importation is limited to queens plus attendants or package bees (a queen plus three to five pounds of worker bees)
  • Honey bees must arrive in the United States on a non-stop flight. The exporter must have the bee colonies (from which the shipment is drawn) inspected by an official of the appropriate federal regulatory agency in that country no more than 10 days prior to shipment. This inspection will result in a Honey bee Export Certificate that must accompany the shipment. The official export certificate must detail any diseases, parasites, or undesirable species or subspecies of honey bee found during the inspection. If the export certificate identifies a bee disease or parasite of concern to the United States, including, but not limited to, Thai sacbrood virus, Tropilaelaps clareae, and Euvarroa sinhai, or any undesirable species or subspecies of honey bee is included in the colony, the shipment will be refused entry.
  • The shipment must contain the official government agency honey bee export certificate along with a manifest that details the full contents of the shipment.
  • The importer must notify APHIS headquarters of the pending shipment 10 days prior to importing. The notification must include the full name, address, and phone numbers of the consignee and consignor, and full details of the airline flight arriving in the United States. You must also provide full details of how many queens or packages bees will be shipped. APHIS will forward the information to Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Inspection (CBP/AI) but will not make any further arrangements for delivery.
  • If the bees are to be picked up at the airport, the importer must make arrangements for 1) inspection and 2) transfer for pickup. Before arrival at the port, arrangements must be made with CBP/AI for inspection and customs clearance. You must also make arrangements with a broker to pick up the bees and transport them to a location where you can retrieve them - you will not be able to meet the aircraft.
  • If the bees are being shipped by an express package delivery service you do not need to contact the airport but you must still provide the 10 day notification and the zoosanitary certificate to APHIS prior to arrival in the United States.
  • The package must be manifested to read “live bees” and the package must be labeled on all sides with letters at least 1-inch tall that reads “live bees”.

For questions about permits for regulated organisms and soil:

Pest Permits Team