Building the Foundation

Since it still has yet to warm up in these parts, I thought I’d share a little bit more on the beekeeping topic that I brought up in my last post. If you read “A Look Ahead,” then you’ll already know that my friend Eric and I will be starting a small beekeeping hobby/business this Spring; and, that I promised to post a few pictures from our trip up to the site of the future bee-yard. Well, true to my word, here are a few of the shots I took while we transported our hive!

Because our bees won’t be arriving until April 10, we decided to lay down the foundation and leave the hive itself inside for another week or so. In case you’re wondering why we’re not keeping the bees in our own backyards, or if you’re simply thinking of starting your own hive, I thought I’d include a little five-step guide explaining the ins and outs of beehive placement.

How to pick a spot that will keep you, your bees, and your neighbors in perfect harmony

1. Check the laws in your area regarding beekeeping.
For a general overview of where beekeeping is illegal, here’s a list of the “No Buzz” zones in the continental United States: Illegal Beekeeping. There are only about 90 cities left on this list, but it’s always a good idea to check (my city is actually on the list, which is why we’re keeping our bees on another property). Even beyond the city law, check with your township for any regulations that must be followed; some areas require that the hive be kept at a certain distance from your property line, for example.

2. Talk to your neighbors about your new found love for the bees!
Image found at http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2010/11/herbal-honey-a-sweet-holiday-gift.htmlExplain to them that because of the bees’ typical flight pattern (they leave the hive and fly straight up into the sky and then spread out away from their home), the neighborhood isn’t going to be flooded with stinging insects. To increase the bees’ natural inclination to do this, you could plant tall hedges around the hive or erect a 6′ fence in front of your bees.
If you want to really win over your neighborhood, you can always give away some free honey after your first year!

3. Make sure that your backyard/property will give the bees ample space.
A beehive doesn’t take up much space at all, but if you live in a crowded development, the bees might not appreciate the close quarters. Bear in mind that the more unfamiliar people there are in a close vicinity of the hive, the higher the chance of a bee stinging a person that it perceives as a stranger.

4. Find an area that will be ideal for the bees.
In general, a good spot for a hive has three things: moderate shade, a nearby water source, and food.
Placing your hive on the edge of a grove of trees, where the shade provides adequate protection from the sun but does not completely eclipse the hive is ideal.

Like any animal, bees need water to survive (and to make honey!); so, having a source of standing water (like a constantly stocked bird bath or, as you can see in the pictures above, a pond) is essential.

While you certainly don’t need to place your hive in the center of a tulip farm, you will want to make sure that the area around your chosen spot will have enough blooming plant life to feed your bees. Unless you live in an area devoid of vegetation, I wouldn’t worry about this factor too much; but, nonetheless, it is important to consider.

5. Make sure that the perfect spot for your bees is the perfect spot for you, too!

If you are unable to house your bees on your property, but have a satellite location in mind, check the distance between your home and the future site of your bees. If the trek from home to hive is long and inconvenient, you may want to look into finding a new spot. Even if the area is perfect for the bees, you don’t want to dread making the weekly trip to check up on your hive (hating the drive can ruin all of the fun of beekeeping).

Hopefully these pointers will help you pick the ideal home for your bees!
If you’d like to learn more about beekeeping in your area, here are two links that provide the contact information for a plethora of beekeeping associations around the world: Beekeeping Associations in the United States, International Beekeeping Associations.

It’s getting pretty late here, so I’m all out of time!
If you have any questions, as always, please feel free to ask! If you’ve noticed something that I’ve forgotten here, or have some words of beekeeping wisdom to share, I’d love to hear what you have to say!
Until next time, happy gardening!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. sorry I am checking in so late…fell in love with bee keeping last year when a new garden friend lectured about hers…then I found there were hives about a mile away and the bees frequent my garden…wish I had the land and time…I still don’t know where you find the time..good luck

    Reply

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