Thinking of starting my hobby in beekeeping next spring. Have read The Beekeeper's Handbook, The Complete Guide to Beekeeping, and First Lessons in Beekeeping by Dadant. I plan on making my own hives from plans on BeeSource, but have a question - How much room does a hive need (away from pets, people areas/traffic), 10, 20, 30 ft? Thanks for any help.
I've have a hive in my back yard about 20 feet from my back door. the yard has a 6ft fence around it, which makes the bees fly high when leaving the yard. As for pets I have three dogs...the bees had no problem explaining the rules to them and it only took one time! The only time the bees are seen around the house is when they are low on food stores and looking for food.
I'd add just a couple of items here... First, you want to make sure that the list of "pets" close by DO NOT include horses or sheep. From what I have read and been told, bees get very irritated when they are around either of these types of animals. I've even been told that your bee brush should NOT be made from horse hair. Second, the orientation of your yard can make a big difference. your pets could be close if the hives (facing south/southest) are facing in the opposite direction from the common travel area of the pets and people.
Mine are on a well-populated allotment site. they're ten feet from a six foot hedge, facing into the hedge, so they have to fly up above that. The hedge runs right round the plot, so there's no way any bees are exiting anywhere below head height. They're not too well-tempered, and when they were queenless they ran me off repeatedly. My neighbour doesn't even know they're there. The main thing is, make sure they're flying off your property at a good height; a six or seven foot fence or hedge in front of the hives will ensure that. Try to have good tempered bees if you can, and if you've got close neighbours, don't have too many hives. Ideally, don't even let them know you have bees; there was a case locally where someone saw an empty hive in their neighbour's garden, and complained of 'hundreds of stings'!