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The Suburban Beekeeper Podcast
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Backyard Beekeeping – is it for you? Space? Flowers? Trees?

I’ve had a few people question the ability of someone having a hive in their backyard  – fears about having enough space.

Although the hive that you see here on the site is a bit of a distance away from my back door, the research I’ve done on this question may surprise some people – you can keep a hive in really any size backyard – the best recommendation I’ve read was that if you have enough space for a hive and for you to be comfortable around it, you have enough space to have a hive. 🙂

Don’t worry even about providing ‘bee friendly flowers’ or trees within your yard – your bees will travel up to 4 miles or so to find food.  As I mentioned in the first podcast, making your yard bee-friendly will be appreciated by the bees.. particularly in providing a source of water.  Your neighbors may already have concerns about a beehive appearing in your backyard- it may grow when they notice clusters of bees drinking from their pool or puddles in their children’s playset.

Alternatives to having the hive in your backyard include possibly placing it on your roof, if you live in a very urban area.  Heck, you can even pull it off in Brooklyn, NY so, no excuses.

Of course, common sense should prevail – I wouldn’t place a hive right up against a common fence with the entrance pointed right at a neighbor’s hammock.  As I mentioned in one of the podcasts, you can use fencing material to both camouflagethe hive’s appearance as well as encourage the bees to fly up and away soon after leaving the hive.

I may joke about hiding the hive from your neighbors however I do encourage you to open a dialogue with them – discuss what you are doing in an positive light, share why you entered into this hobby- how the bee population is declining and you are doing your part to help increase genetic diversity in the bee population, how your bees will help pollinate gardens all over the neighborhood and how gentle honeybees are. This plus a small gift of your own locally produced honey at the end of the season will go a long way in ‘sweet talking’ your skeptical neighbors into becoming honeybee fans.

Hive Update: I’ll be checking under the cover tomorrow – the bees had surprised me at their progress in drawing out the foundation in the hive body. It may be close to time to add the second hive body on there to give them plenty of room to grow.  I’m expecting a population burst in just over a week – the first round of eggs the queen laid should emerge 21 days out.

Thanks for reading,


6 comments to Backyard Beekeeping – is it for you? Space? Flowers? Trees?

  • everet

    I have a friend nearby with three hives and 11 nuc’s in his backyard right now. Hes is in the middle of town in a “normal” sized back yard. His neighbors hardly notice it. He is selling the nuc’s to other beekeepers this week. His honey collection was the largest at the beekeeper association’s last year, all from his backyard.

    • That’s amazing! That’s a huge number of bees – impressive. would love to see a pic if you can get it.. I’d put it up here for other folks to see that their neighbors shouldn’t worry if they put just one hive in their backyard. 🙂

  • Michelle

    I have an interesting situation that has led me to your website. My husband and I have a city sewer line in our backyard and quite to our surprise a colony of bees have chosen to start a hive under the manhole cover. After speaking to our city sewer people they said they can attemtp to collect the hive but don’t think if they move it will survive or we an plug the holes in the manhole cover and the colony will die off. My husband, being a science teacher, doesnt really care for either option. Do you or any of your readers have any ideas you could share with us? We have two children under the age of 6 and 2 dogs. Could we just let the hive continue or encourge it to to move to a more suitable area? Also is this an opportunity to start suburban bee keeping?
    Thanks in advance for your expertise

    • Michelle – I would recommend you contact a local beekeeping association first. Getting a local beekeeper involved would be your best first step.. the association may/should have a list of beekeepers that will be interested in catching a swarm of honeybees (you’re sure they are honeybees, right?)
      Sounds great that you have the support of the local city folks.
      I would guess the best situation would be that the local city folks and the beekeeper would arrive at the same time to have the city open the access cover and the beekeeper be able to capture the swarm in a nuc box.
      Best of luck and let us know how it turns out!

  • Evan

    I am wanting to put a beehive in my back yard, but the zoning is not regulated for it. I have 40 fruit trees on my lot and a large garden, with a greenhouse, so it would fit in nicely. I have a quarter acre and feel there is enough room. Any ideas?

    • Wow – that is a shame. Sounds like there would be a perfect haven for a hive… particularly with the trees and garden. Is the regulation actually zoning related or is there a direct statute against beekeeping at home? Were are you located generally? In the US? State? I would do the following – A) follow up with a local beekeeping association to get some local guidance and B) if it is actually a ‘no home hive’ issue, attend a local district meeting and raise the question.. It seemed to me that a large number of statutes on the books here in the US were leftover from farm vs non-farm regulations. Since bees are considered livestock (heh) then since you arent’ allowed to have a cow in your backyard, you also can’t have bees.. Seems silly and outdated to me. Best of luck- keep us informed! -Will

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