You want to try beekeeping… From all you read and hear, it seems extremely interesting, challenging, and rewarding (who doesn’t like honey?) plus you help the bees, the environment, and the local flora.
But you live downtown or in a suburb…don’t be discouraged!
Bees travel a couple of miles if necessary to collect nectar and pollen, so they don’t need flowering plants close by, however urban areas and suburbs have plenty of flowers. I have confirmed with many long-term beekeepers, many as surprised as me in learning that urban beehives can commonly be just as productive if not more than their rural counterparts. That being said, it is important to follow a few common sense guidelines:
1. Make sure it’s legal to keep bees in your area. Check your city ordinances to make sure you are cleared to keep bees. If you don’t own your own property, make sure you have the landlord’s permission to keep bees.
2. Do some research. Read our “Tips for beginner beekeepers” blog at Bee Exchange. Although beekeeping is becoming the latest new, green thing, it is important to be prepared and have a basic knowledge of what to expect and responsibilities required. After all, you don’t want to unknowingly abuse the bees or your neighbors.
3. Make sure you have the proper space and layout for your bees:
- A fence or shrub is a good idea and has several benefits. It forces the bees to fly up and away from the path of walking people and pets. A fence or shrub hides the hives from neighbors and also provides wind protection and shade.
- Bees constantly need water in the spring and summer. They use it to cool the hive and also in the production of honey. The love ponds, puddles and creeks in rural areas but will also use birdbaths and swimming pools in suburbs. To avoid conflicts with the neighbors, place a pan or tub or water 20 or 30 yards from the hives. Place rocks, wood, plants or similar objects in the water so the bees can access the water without drowning.
4. Be a good neighbor. Tell your closest neighbors of your plans to have bees. Maybe the promise of honey will remove any concerns… Also try to avoid creating defensiveness in the bees:
- Visit the hive in the late morning and middle of the day.
- Avoid visits in cloudy, rainy, or really windy conditions.
- Most experienced beekeepers believe frequent hive visits help the bees to become accustomed to human activity near the hive.