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Bees on urban lot

 
Emily Cressey
Posts: 45
Location: Lynnwood, WA. USA
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I am excited about having two beehives at my new house...

However, the yard is pretty small - the lot is about 100' x 60' with a 50' wide front yard (facing south - the most sun here), a 19' wide side yard - also southern exposure, but with a 5' tall fence on the south side, and the backyard, which I would call "bright shade." There are trees and houses around, and its on the East side of the house but it's not in a deep dark forest or anything like that.

The question is - where to put the hives....

I have two small children and I don't want them to be fearful of bees.

I want to spend a lot of time outside in my relatively small sunny front yard.

My plan is to put one hive in the side yard, and one hive in the front yard near the street, but sort of face each hive into the bushes/garden beds and not toward the main thoroughfairs.

My question is whether I am creating a scary bee nuisance to myself and my neighbors - is this a question of how close we can get to the hive before they get freaked out? I saw a post at Olympic Apiaries that breeds queens from wild survivor stock, that suggested the hives be 50' away from foot traffic and that basically means I would have no where in my yard to keep the hives.

Is urban beekeeping an option for me - and if so - where should I put the hives - more sun, more people front yard, less sun vs. less people back yard. I am in Seattle, WA where it is 50 degrees and rainy all spring, winter and fall, and 70 and dry/sunny all summer.

Thanks!

Emily
 
Patrick Mann
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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I was looking at an Olympic Apiaries queen but decided against it - my lot is about the same size as yours. If you select a more gentle stock of bees, you should have no problems. I work around my hives in the garden all the time without any problems. They really don't want to mess with you unless you mess with them.
 
tel jetson
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Emily Cressey wrote:
My question is whether I am creating a scary bee nuisance to myself and my neighbors - is this a question of how close we can get to the hive before they get freaked out? I saw a post at Olympic Apiaries that breeds queens from wild survivor stock, that suggested the hives be 50' away from foot traffic and that basically means I would have no where in my yard to keep the hives.


I hate getting stung (because it hurts, and because it stresses the colony), so I do my best to avoid doing anything that would provoke a bee to sting me. I also routinely put my face within 18 inches of my hive entrances. very occasionally, it's obvious that the bees are perturbed about something and don't want me around. when that's the case, staying ten feet away is plenty to avoid their attention.

now, if you plan to use a loud lawnmower or string trimmer or pants cannon in their vicinity with any regularity, you may have different results.
 
Emily Cressey
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Location: Lynnwood, WA. USA
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Thanks guys, that is very helpful... I'm planning to do a food forest/annual veggie garden so there shouldn't be much engine/motor stuff going on... just a lot of hands-and-knees work.

My 3 year old has a bit of a bee-phobia after a bad picnic attended by a bunch of yellow-jackets, so I just don't want her getting chased around by one of those big swarms of angry bees from a Yogi Bear cartoon.

Emily
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I just mowed near my one of my hives (5ft) for the first time and they paid me no mind. Super happy
 
Emily Cressey
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Location: Lynnwood, WA. USA
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Thanks David, that is good to know.

Emily
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
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Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
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Some people actually put them up on the roof.
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I considered that but didn't want to advertise their presence.
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I would have preferred a roof based hive really, wouldn't have had to electric fence my dogs out but advertising to the neighbors was a big negative.
 
Nick Kitchener
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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You might want to be aware of the various food sources too:
http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20142405-25561.html
 
Rod Foster
Posts: 16
Location: Missoula, MT USDA Zone 4a
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Emily Cressey wrote:I am excited about having two beehives at my new house...

However, the yard is pretty small - the lot is about 100' x 60' with a 50' wide front yard (facing south - the most sun here), a 19' wide side yard - also southern exposure, but with a 5' tall fence on the south side, and the backyard, which I would call "bright shade." There are trees and houses around, and its on the East side of the house but it's not in a deep dark forest or anything like that.

The question is - where to put the hives....

I have two small children and I don't want them to be fearful of bees.

I want to spend a lot of time outside in my relatively small sunny front yard.

My plan is to put one hive in the side yard, and one hive in the front yard near the street, but sort of face each hive into the bushes/garden beds and not toward the main thoroughfairs.

My question is whether I am creating a scary bee nuisance to myself and my neighbors - is this a question of how close we can get to the hive before they get freaked out? I saw a post at Olympic Apiaries that breeds queens from wild survivor stock, that suggested the hives be 50' away from foot traffic and that basically means I would have no where in my yard to keep the hives.

Is urban beekeeping an option for me - and if so - where should I put the hives - more sun, more people front yard, less sun vs. less people back yard. I am in Seattle, WA where it is 50 degrees and rainy all spring, winter and fall, and 70 and dry/sunny all summer.

Thanks!

Emily


i would put them where they'll be least disturbed, where they'll get the most sun and i would put them both close to each other (about a foot and a half to two feet away side by side)
that will make for better inspections and that will make life easy for them as well if they're both in optimal environments.

what kind of hives do you have?

bees are docile and are only prone to sting when their food or brood is disrupted....of course stepping on one when it's pollinating a dandelion won't help either
 
Rod Foster
Posts: 16
Location: Missoula, MT USDA Zone 4a
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tel jetson wrote:
Emily Cressey wrote:
My question is whether I am creating a scary bee nuisance to myself and my neighbors - is this a question of how close we can get to the hive before they get freaked out? I saw a post at Olympic Apiaries that breeds queens from wild survivor stock, that suggested the hives be 50' away from foot traffic and that basically means I would have no where in my yard to keep the hives.


I hate getting stung (because it hurts, and because it stresses the colony), so I do my best to avoid doing anything that would provoke a bee to sting me. I also routinely put my face within 18 inches of my hive entrances. very occasionally, it's obvious that the bees are perturbed about something and don't want me around. when that's the case, staying ten feet away is plenty to avoid their attention.

now, if you plan to use a loud lawnmower or string trimmer or pants cannon in their vicinity with any regularity, you may have different results.


i keep Carniolians and hive them in horizontal top bar hives and mow past them once/twice a week w/ no problems. i try to mow mid day when most bees are out of the hive...but when i can't i just keep at it and i've never been stung or bothered by a bee yet
 
Rod Foster
Posts: 16
Location: Missoula, MT USDA Zone 4a
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David Miller wrote:I would have preferred a roof based hive really, wouldn't have had to electric fence my dogs out but advertising to the neighbors was a big negative.


what do you mean fence your dogs out? were they going after the bees? didn't they get stung and learn their lesson?

it took only a sting for each of my pups and they keep clear...i have my 4 hives in my backyard (it's fenced) and my dogs don't go near em..



 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I have an Anatolian and a Anatolian/StBernard. If they even once tried to knock down the hives, they'd succeed. They would certainly get stung but they'd really mess things up in process. Better safe than sorry
 
Rod Foster
Posts: 16
Location: Missoula, MT USDA Zone 4a
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David Miller wrote:I have an Anatolian and a Anatolian/StBernard. If they even once tried to knock down the hives, they'd succeed. They would certainly get stung but they'd really mess things up in process. Better safe than sorry


Ha! always a good rule to live by
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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pretty pictures, Rod, though I hear color is available these days. what are the smoker and veil for?
 
Rod Foster
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Location: Missoula, MT USDA Zone 4a
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tel jetson wrote:pretty pictures, Rod, though I hear color is available these days. what are the smoker and veil for?


my wife took the shots and she chose black and white
the veil and smoker were for installing 3 three pound packages of bees

i ended up not needing the smoker but kept it out and smoked myself. i have my original hive and i don't wear a veil to work them but these were newbees and i decided to go safe on the first round...so far these bees are not aggressive at all and pay no attention to me or my dogs

install for all 3 took less than 30 minutes.

i'm only in my 2nd year as a beekeeper but have been involved and around bees since 2005
 
tel jetson
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Rod Foster wrote:the veil and smoker were for installing 3 three pound packages of bees


apologies for the teasing. they really are nice pictures.

do you practice swarm prevention with those Carniolans?
 
Rod Foster
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Location: Missoula, MT USDA Zone 4a
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about the only form of swarm prevention i partake in is making sure the hive is not overcrowded...i do not cut out queen cells or clip the queen's wings.

i've not made any hive splits...YET...but we'll see...i'm really new at this and love the peace and zen and joy these bees bring into my life and i love just watching them go in and out of the hive.


From Bush Bee's Site...michael bush is a wonderful, intelligent, and very helpful beekeeper i've had the pleasure of conversing w/ over @ beesource forums

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesswarmcontrol.htm
 
Rod Foster
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Location: Missoula, MT USDA Zone 4a
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also
on les crowder, bush, and hemenway's advice

i opened the broodnest for some swarm control and had a great successful hive

BBEBBEBBE b for brood and e for empty bars...

 
tel jetson
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Rod Foster wrote:also
on les crowder, bush, and hemenway's advice

i opened the broodnest for some swarm control and had a great successful hive

BBEBBEBBE b for brood and e for empty bars...


that sounds like a reasonable way to postpone swarming a bit, though it's far more manipulation than I'm interested in.

I've heard that Carniolans' offspring can be rather nasty when they mix with local bee stocks, but my guess is that really only holds true for more mainstream, high intervention beekeeping. at any rate, unless you plan to re-queen regularly, you're unlikely to have pure Carniolans for long. that's a good thing from my point of view, but some folks get upset when they work out that the fancy bees they paid a pretty penny for set about breeding with local mongrels in short order.
 
Rod Foster
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Location: Missoula, MT USDA Zone 4a
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cool.

i still have the original queen in there (she came marked) and the temperament of the bees has been docile and non-aggressive.

i think mainly if i do manipulate i try to focus on moving the honey stores to the back and keep the brood to the front and throw in some empties here and there (give them more space and something to do)

do you take a more non-interventionist sort of approach? do you have swarming techniques that are less invasive? how do you like to "work" your hives?

do you just like to poke in and make sure they're not cross-combing (assuming you have a HTBH)

and as far as having pure carniolians..i am not at all concerned with that...i want healthy bees, healthy comb and just enough honey for my toast and my wife's baklava
 
tel jetson
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Rod Foster wrote:
do you take a more non-interventionist sort of approach? do you have swarming techniques that are less invasive? how do you like to "work" your hives?


I pretty much let them swarm if they want to. I try to make sure they've got plenty of room to build so they don't swarm because of overcrowding, but I treat the brood nest as sacred and as such, darn near untouchable.

Rod Foster wrote:do you just like to poke in and make sure they're not cross-combing (assuming you have a HTBH)


I tried a horizontal top bar hive a few years back. didn't have much luck with it. probably because I don't like to poke in and make sure of anything. I prefer to do my observation from outside the hive. I think that style hive requires a fair bit of manipulation in my climate, and that's just not something I'm interested in. now I use Warré hives and Perone hives and don't worry about cross-comb. I harvest whole boxes at a time, and I just cut it all out when I do, so they can build a Mandelbröt set comb for all I care (though I probably wouldn't have the heart to cut that one out). this isn't a dig at horizontal hives at all, by the way. I think they're great. I just like to spend my bee time setting and watching rather than moving things around.

Rod Foster wrote:and as far as having pure carniolians..i am not at all concerned with that...i want healthy bees, healthy comb and just enough honey for my toast and my wife's baklava


surely you get some baklava, too. I sometimes wonder if making filo might be outlawed under the Geneva Conventions, but goodness. so tasty.
 
Rod Foster
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Location: Missoula, MT USDA Zone 4a
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ha!

oh man
my next hive is gonna be a warre hive....i like the hands off approach to bee keeping and just letting them "bee"

i think for me, the htbh has been a wonderful learning tool and experience for myself and my family and glad i went that route to start...but i started reading up on warre hives about a year ago and it just seems a bit more up my alley in terms of the amt of honey you can harvest

thanks for the responses!!!

baklava season is upon us
 
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