We have kept bees before in regular hives with about 8 frames in each box.
At one point we had two hives going until the yellow jackets killed off our bees one year.
We moved to a much more crowded suburb, but would still like to keep bees.
What is the smallest hive a person could keep that would be viable?
Is there such a thing as a mini-hive?
Not that I know of Luddite,
8 frames is about as small as you would want to go. You could use nuc hives but lets face it you would be stacking supers up to the moon.
Remember the queen is going to lay as many eggs as she can during the season. This is what she has been breed to do and it is quite natural for her. If you restrict her room she will swarm.
I think you will have more problems from swarms flying around than the fact that you have bees in your back yard.
I live in a subdivision and keep 1 to 3 hives at my house at any given time throughout the year. I have a 6ft privicy fince to keep people from seeing the hives and to let the bees get well over head hight before leaving the yard.
The people directly around me get free honey from the best that I have come in evey year. I have never had a problem with anything, and very few people know that the bees are there at all.
My only fear is that a swarm will get away from me one day and decide to move into a house close to mine, if it does I would remove it for free to keep good relations with everybody.
Hey, thanks for the input.
We were just wondering.
One reason we hesitate to get carried away with bees is that our next door neighbor is allergic to beesting and litigation prone.
He can not prove it was your bee, if one did sting him. just keep gentle bees and do your best to keep them from swarming.
Brushy Mt. sells 8 frame boxes and hives. You COULD use 5 frame nucs to keep a hive in and just keep them restricted as far as size. You could also, keep a clipped queen so you can catch the swarms. If you don't feed them they won't build up as much. If you keep taking their honey, they can't build up quite as much. If you trap their pollen they can't raise as much brood, if you feed the brood to the chickens (which you probably don't have) they can't raise as much brood. There are a lot of ways to restrict them but none of them are that simple. If you use the drone brood method of varroa control you can waste a lot of the bee's work by freezing a frame of drone every week or even more. That's resources that would have otherwise been used to raise brood.
Of course, back to the original thought of just keeping a small hive. If you only have a couple of 8 frame boxes (or even one) then they will just swarm when they run out of room. If the hive is very small, odds are the swarm will be very small.
It is more difficult to keep the hive small than to let it get large.
You could also keep an observation hive in the house and just let it swarm when it wants, but it would be nice to have a hive to share resources with if it gets into trouble.
Thanks everyone for the great advice.
I can tell this is THE place to come for bee information!
"One reason we hesitate to get carried away with bees is that our next door neighbor is allergic to beesting and litigation prone.
That is why MOST experienced bee keepers put ear tags on their bees. The hive number goes on the front, the individual number goes on the back.
If your neighbor is stung, just ask him about the numbers on the tag, and then you can show him in your records if it was one of your bees or not.
Keeping good records will keep you out of a LOT of trouble over the years!