Wednesday, May 6, 2009
It's been chilly and rainy the last few days until today; this afternoon the bees were out in force, partially because with the rain the flowers produce lots of nectar; and part because I think bees get a little stir crazy when they have to stay in their hive. Bees won't fly if the temperature is too low (less than 50°F) or if it is raining too much. They tell you not to inspect the hive on cold rainy days due to cranky bees!
One comment I get a lot when I talk about the bees (in addition to "Gee, you sure do talk a lot about bees!") is "Wow, you must live on a lot of property to have bees." The short answer is, no, not really. I live on about 1/2 acre, and half of that is woods.
Take a look at the picture above - that's what I see when I am on my deck. The beehive sits exactly 35 feet from the edge of my deck, nestled in the edge of the wooded area. These next pictures are a side view of my back yard, and a Google Maps view of my house. You can see I am right smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
I wouldn't keep 20 hives on this small a space, due to being a nuisance to my neighbors. But a hive or 2 isn't too bad.
The bees come out and go foraging just fine. So far I haven't seen any problems (but then the bees aren't up to full strength, and I haven't tried to have lots of people over for a picnic). If it becomes a problem, one trick you can do is to put up some kind of a barrier (like a dark fabric fence) about 6' high, a few feet away from the entrance of the hive. This barrier forces the bees to fly up very quickly after leaving the hive (bees are straight-line thinkers) and that gets them out of everyone's way. But from what I've observed from the path of the bees, they gain altitude quickly anyway. So I don't anticipate any problems.
So bees don't need a lot of space. In fact, there are beehives on the rooftops of New York buildings (cool video here) Interestingly, it is illegal to have bees in New York City, something a few people are trying to change. So don't let a lack of space deter you from keeping bees!