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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Charleston, South Carolina, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Hello,

    We just moved our two hives into a suburban neighborhood and are concerned that our swarms might move into our neighbors' houses. I am wondering if anyone has seen any studies of urban beekeeping that tracks where swarms ultimately end up. We want to be good neighbors and not host bees at home if they are likely to end up moving into neighbors' houses.

    Any other suburban liability issues to consider? Beekeeping is allowed by our homeowners' insurance policy.

    Please send any insights you might have!

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rhinebeck, NY
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Think like a bee. You are looking for space...

    If you are in Charleston, there are a lot of old homes and I would guess that a lot of them are not insulated. The space from the sill to the plate between two big old studs could be very attractive, particularly if there is a nice bee-sized crack or knot hole in the clapboard so you can get in and out. It's going to happen, whether from your hives or from existing in-house colonies. I wouldn't worry. In fact, I would read up or study how to offer cut-out services for your community.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    In my opinion, in an urban or suburban setting your swarms are more likely to become a nuisance to your neighbors. They may move into the walls of homes or a hollow tree next to a sidewalk or in a playground.
    As a responsible beekeeper you should educate yourself in swarm management and put a strategy into practice. Even if you aren’t totally successful in eliminating swarms…for peace of mind you should make the effort.
    And if you are successful in eliminating swarms from your hives, you will be rewarded with significantly better honey production.
    Good luck
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,539

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    In an urban setting, swarm prevention and hive temperment must be the primary concerns of the beekeeper. Honey is generally sacrificed (by not keeping the strongest hives possible), but it is an important aspect of living in a city or a neighborhood. It might also help to become at least competent at removals. Even if a property owner wanted someone with insurance and such (not an unreasonable requirement), at least you would have an informed perspective of how to advise.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,335

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Certainly you want to do your best to keep them from swarming. And if they do, they will likely move into someone's home since there is an obsession with cutting down trees that are hollow so they don't fall on people's houses...

    But look at it this way too, there are already feral bees in town. They are already swarming. They are already moving into people's houses. You having a hive in your back yard fills a niche that would otherwise be filled by feral bees, but yours are where you can mange them and they should at least swarm less than feral bees will.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Springfield, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    434

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Quote Originally Posted by csc View Post
    ......Beekeeping is allowed by our homeowners' insurance policy.
    Not to kick your question sideways, but beekeeping that is allowed (or, at least, not disallowed) by homeowner's insurance does not mean that your municipality sees things the same way. Look for a phrase like "except where prohibited" or "subject to local and state laws" in your paperwork. Talk to some folks in a local club and who are in your same situation (setting) to hear their experiences. AND talk to your zoning officer. I'm not trying to rain on your parade; it sounds like you have done your homework.

    There is one other thing to consider: Even if a municipality allows bees, repeated swarming and any complaints by neighbors could be construed as rising to the level of a public safety issue (true or not). When that happens in my area, it is the state that gets involved, not local government.
    Pete. New 2013, 7 hives, zone 6a
    To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    625

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Pretty easy to catch swarms that issue from your home yard. Just make a practice of walking by your hives every evening as soon as you get home from work. Teach your neighbors what to watch for to help you. My neighbors love it when they spot a swarm for me because they know I'll give them a big jar of honey for calling me.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Pretty easy to catch swarms that issue from your home yard.
    May be true in KS but if Charleston, SC is anything like Athens GA....ain't so. Forty or fifty feet in the top of a tree...nothing easy about catching them and in my opinion typically not worth the risk.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Charleston, South Carolina, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Thank you for your considerations. This is good food for thought.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Franklin County, PA
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Good Question! When the bees swarm it is quite a sight. I have better aimed to prevent swarming this year. It seems to have worked. There are various techniques for swarm prevention but this one worked for me this year.

    http://barnsleybeekeepers.org.uk/demaree.html

    http://www.honeybeesuite.com/demaree-demystified/



    I also have a sprinkler on a timer that goes off every morning for ten minutes and it has kept the bees off of our hot tub and instead using the water sources provided in our yard. Our neighbors have pools so the sprinkler seems to have kept the complaints from neighbors to zero so far.

    I also gave some neighbors honey as suggested by D Semple.

    If you can keep the hives out of sight that may keep unnecessary anxiety levels of the neighbors down.

    Our apiary is registered and the bee inspector has come and approved of things and this gives me comfort too as far as if the neighbors ever do get irritated or something. If you work at it you will probably be able to keep them just fine without issues. Swarming can happen though so checking them frequently and having an eye for swarm cells and some extra boxes for splits will most likely be part of your beekeeping future.
    It is recommended to have some swarm traps up in your yard to potentially bee the first choice that your bees pick if they swarm. It may just work

    I found this and it may be helpful to you.

    http://outdoorplace.org/beekeeping/citybees.htm

    I think bees are great so I encourage people that are interested to go for it and like many others on this forum try to help them if I can.
    I wish you luck and hope you post some photos of your bees

    bee at entrance.jpg

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Prevention is better than cure.

    Try and prevent them from swarming, requeen every year and give them lots of space.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Downingtown, PA
    Posts
    237

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Also consider making some swarm traps and placing them on your property. I captured 3 swarms between the two suburban sites I keep bees. Not sure if all were from my hives, but an attractive trap may prevent them from searching elsewhere. I also caught 5 swarms in a rural location in my hometown this year.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Charleston, South Carolina, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    Thank you for the extra information. Swarm traps are a good idea.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Green,Wisconsin,USA
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: Likelihood of Swarms Going into Neighbors' Homes?

    I got into a heated discussion in an online forum on this topic. Seems there is an urban bee club near me and some of its members seem to think that kicking out swarms is a good thing; that they are helping to restock the world's pollinator supply. I pointed out that if these swarms become seen as a nuisance, the city may rescind their allowance of urban hives. I also pointed out that hives that release swarms (depending on the timing) are often time less likely to make it through the winter, requiring the beekeeper to buy non-locally produced packages the next spring, rather than preserving local genetics. Well, they jumped down my throat as if I clubbed a baby seal or something (I was booted off the forum by the moderator). But your questions are certainly pertinent, and I would be concerned about the less than diligent beekeepers that may muddy the waters for those that are truly responsible.

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