Where can I keep bees?
So, you’ve been bitten by the beekeeping bug and really fancy having a go at becoming a beekeeper. There’s one problem though, you have no idea where you can keep your bees.
Watch Simon explain some important factors that will help you. Then read on for more information.
A large garden in the countryside would obviously be ideal, but not everyone has that luxury. However, that doesn’t mean to say that beekeeping is out of bounds for people with limited space. It is quite possible to keep bees in your garden, or even on flat roofs, but there’s a few things that you need to consider to be sure whether it will work for you - especially if you have close neighbours.
Check you can keep bees in your area
Here in the UK, you generally aren’t required to have a licence. However, some local councils may require you to have some experience or a more localised licence. It’s a smart idea to check with your local authorities, or your local beekeeping association.
Ask your neighbours if you’re planning to set up close to them
You can give your neighbours all the honey in the world, but it won’t sweeten anything if you never asked if they had any objections in the first place. Some people are terrified of bees – or allergic. These are all factors that you must consider. Plus, if you’re planning to keep your hive(s) near people or domestic animals, you must ensure your bees are docile.
Bees will sting if they feel the need to do so. This is obviously to defend themselves and commonly happens only around the hive. However, not all bees are the same in terms of aggressiveness. Some will sting you at the slightest opportunity and at some distance away from the hive. You must do your research and be sure your bees won’t unleash unnecessary hell on the people and animals that live close by.
If your bees are aggressive, they should be relocated at least 3 miles away to a site away from people.
Is there water close by?
Just like us, bee get thirsty, and therefore need to have a water source provided. If you’re planning to locate your bees in your garden near neighbours, think carefully about making this source easily accessible for the bees. The risk of accidental stinging will shoot up if your bees are venturing into neighbouring gardens, taking water from children’s paddling pools, garden ponds or animal water bowls.
Is the ground level?
A good apiary site is level. It’s no good popping your hives on a slant. They may be quite light when you start, but when honey season comes, they will be heavy and need to be stable and not at risk of toppling over.
Other factors for your apiary
There will need to be available forage for the bees, ideally within a one-mile radius. It’s also a good idea that the site provides some shelter from strong winds and is in a position to make the most of the sunshine. We recommend your hives are south facing, that way they get the sun first thing in the morning and the length of the bee’s productivity is at its best. Furthermore, the site should not be overly shaded, as this can increase the risk of damp – and that needs to be avoided. Be mindful not to set up your apiary in a place that is likely to flood or get bad frost. You want your bees to be as comfortable as possible, avoiding any extreme temperature changes where possible.
Is it accessible?
Your apiary needs to be easily accessible for you, but not for the general public. Not only because you don’t want people to get unnecessary stings, but (unfortunately), there are vandals and thieves out there. Therefore, try and ensure your hives are out of site, and are as safe as possible to avoid any heart break.
Be mindful of the bee’s flight path
Consider the bees likely flight path. Will they be flying over people’s washing or cars? Will they be flying close to animals and people? By providing screening around your hives, it will send the bees on a higher flight path.
Join your local beekeeping association
We cannot stress this enough. You’ll be able to learn from other local beekeepers about local conditions or issues that may affect your bees, join in with meetings, get hints and tips, take part in training and courses, learn where and how to get the best bees, and of course, make some beekeeping buddies!
Not only that, but if your original site to keep bees is a no-go, they’ll be able to help you find a new, more suitable one. Beekeepers never stop learning, and this is a great way to develop your knowledge.
We also recommend having a look at Bee Plus. An online community-based education program that provides budding beekeepers and bee farmers with a clear pathway to beekeeping mastery.
Get in touch with us
If you have any questions at all, we’d be happy to help. Just email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org