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guerrilla beekeeping

 
Randy Bachman
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I'd be interested in your thoughts about guerrilla bee keeping. Your Warre hives are so simple and durable, I wonder about the ethics and efficacy of putting some of these out in the wild landscape, road medians, abandoned land, etc. and build the wild bee population. Bad idea? good idea? I do this with bird and bat houses, but never thought about bees.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Interesting idea Randy, I would like to hear a reply to this one too.
 
Matthew Reed
instructor
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Location: Portland, OR
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Randy,

I don't think it's a bad idea. A lot of beekeepers would tell you this will lead to the spread of American Foulbrood and other horrible bee illness, but it's not any more likely to do so than a tree cavity or a wall. In the past I've seen Warre-style hives that are one tall box -- equivalent to the volume of at least 2-3 standard Warre boxes. No bars or method of manipulation -- but basically a feral honey bee nesting site. If you've got the time and energy (and place to put them!), then I say go for it! To attract bees to them (if there are any in your area) you can bait the hives with lemongrass oil. Personally, I'd take the time and resources to plant more pollinator friendly plants instead. Here in Portland I get hundreds of calls each year for bee removal from trees and walls. Also, many of the swarms I catch I can see come from feral colonies in such cavities. To me I think there are plenty of nesting sites in cities -- rural areas may need a bit more help.

Best,
Matt
 
David Heaf
author
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The nearest I've come to this is planting willows. They are doing well, some now 30 ft high. At the time, I had no bees, but now I see the benefit as bee forage not far from my hives.

I like the idea Randy. Fortunately there are enough people round me willing to offer free space for hives so I do not have to resort to guerrilla beekeeping. They get a jar of honey per hive per year in return. I have 8 apiaries scattered around with 1 to 5 hives.

You might wish to consider safety to anyone coming upon the hive, also any resulting legal liability. Warrés or something similar could be mate to be hoistable into trees. They might then be less at risk of interference.

Land access laws vary from country to country. Most of bee habitable Britain is so densely populated/farmed, guerrilla beekeeping would not be easy here. I know one local frame beek who tried it with a patch of apparently neglected land. But the owner caught him at it and strongly expressed his displeasure.

 
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