Monday, February 8, 2016

Guest Post: Bee-Keeping and Happy Neighbours

I'm happy to share with you a guest post from another beekeeper Liz, details of her social media links are at the end of the post.  This is a post about keeping bees in the city.  We don't have to worry about neighbours on our property.

Keeping your neighbors happy is an important part of successful beekeeping, and that’s not always an easy task. Wasps have given honeybees a bad rap — and unfortunately for beekeepers, a good percentage of the population lump the two together into one nasty, stinging group. If you’re a budding apiarist, here are some simple tips to preserve harmony in your neighborhood — and keep the city council on your side.

eight acres: beekeeping and happy neighbours


Be a Legal Eagle
Before you start your hives, it’s important to know your city’s ordinances regarding keeping bees. Is it allowed? Are there rules regarding number of hives, fencing, distance from other residences, etc.? Knowing the answers to these questions is your first line of defense against angry neighbors — and can save you a lot of money in fines.

If the city permits the keeping of bees, the next place to check is your homeowners association. Most associations follow local ordinances, but some can be a bit more discriminating. Check your HOA bylaws to be absolutely sure you won’t end up having to get rid of your hives.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind
If you can, consider installing a fence or planting a tall shrub around your apiary. This serves two purposes; one, it makes it difficult for neighbors to spot your hives, and two, it alters the flight pattern of your bees, forcing them to above head level.

Keeping hives out of sight also helps to safeguard against vandalism and theft. You can add another layer of camouflage by painting them colors that match their surroundings. If your bees are out of sight, they’re far less likely to be the object of concern or controversy.

If you live where bears may be a problem, an electric fence is an absolute necessity. Bears will willingly endure stings to get to the precious larvae, pupae, and eggs inside the hive. They’re also all to happy to help themselves to any honey available. A seven wire fence built to a height of 4.5 feet should be sufficient to deter bears.  

Construct a Watering Hole
Bees need water for a myriad of hive activities, such as controlling the temperature and humidity of the hive, as well as diluting honey. If your bees don't have an accessible water source, they will find the next closest supply — which might just be your neighbor's swimming pool.

Since bees prefer shallow, standing water, place a birdbath lined with rocks near your hives. The rocks are a vital component, as the bees will drown if it is just an open container.
Control Swarming
To a beekeeper, a swarm is not only something awesome to behold, it’s a chance to start another hive. However, for neighbors, it can cause a great deal of fear and anxiety. Those who are unfamiliar with bee biology aren’t aware that swarming bees are at their most gentle state and not inclined to sting, so a large group of stinging insects making a considerable amount of noise can be terrifying.

Swarm prevention is a key part to keeping your neighbors in good spirits. Provide adequate room in the brood chambers and space for honey storage to keep swarming at a low level. It’s also a good idea to know how to capture swarms, as it allows the city to call on you in times of need.

Catch Flies With Honey
It’s a lot easier to befriend your neighbors before any potential trouble than trying to calm them down when they’re already angry. Chat with your neighbors about the benefits of beekeeping, the difference between wasps and bees, and answer any questions and concerns they might have. Discuss colony collapse disorder and why beekeeping is important to the environment. Once they know you are a responsible beekeeper, they will be less likely to raise the alarm if they spot your bees out and about. It also doesn’t hurt to sweeten your relationship with a gift of honey every now and then.

When you’re not fighting the city, you HOA, and your neighbors, beekeeping can be a real pleasure. If you prepare ahead of time, educate yourself on the laws, and keep your bees happy and gentle, you’re sure to meet success in any neighborhood.

Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene.

Do you have any tips to share about keeping your bees and your neighbours happy?

6 comments:

  1. Another helpful article on bee keeping. I love the part about the bears. ;)

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    1. I know! There are different challenges for every beekeeper :)

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  2. I will refer back to this when we finally get bees.

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    1. There will be a good stash of info here by then :)

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  3. This was a great post! I would love to take the local Bee class. We have a huge community of beekeepers in our area. However, I live in a HOA. Maybe someday! I really enjoyed this post!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Ginger, glad you enjoyed it! You can always join the bee club and visit other people's bees :) And try to change that HOA so you can keep bees safely in your yard!

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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