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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Giles, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Mowing and yard work around bees?

    As I wait to begin my beekeeping journey I was curious as to how bees react to lawnmowers, weed whackers, and other yard work. I searched the forums but couldn't find anything. The potential issue I see as I'm trying to locate a nice spot for my bee yard is having to mow around the hives. I know that bees react aggressively to loud noises and such. So I'm just curious what is best in dealing with this? Would it be best to screen the bees in the night before and them un-screen them after mowing around them? I know that you probably wouldn't want to drive by the hives with the exhaust and grass clippings pointed towards the hives.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,737

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    Smoke the yard, wear your suit. Try not to blow the exhaust onto the entrances

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    762

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I have only had problems when I have bumped a hive with the mower. And, the problem was during subsequent passes by the entrance. I typically wait until later evening when flights are slowing down. Weighted down forages will fly into you.

    Tom

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    paulding Georgia USA
    Posts
    142

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I use landscape fabric with gravel and mulch around my hives. Keeps me from having to mow next to my hives, I only have 3. I also use a reel type push mower close by, no motor and very quiet. It works very well as long as I do not let the grass get too tall. For the rest of my yard I use my riding mower, never had a problem with my bees.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I put landscaping blocks down under the hives with bee friendly perennials planted between. Pine bark mulch around the perennials to keep the weeds down. I needed the blocks to level my hives, the perennials are for aesthetics and bee forage. All together it makes it so I don't have to mow too close. I pass by fast to not get in the foragers way more than necessary but they really don't seem to mind the mower. Once in a while I get that one annoyed bee but have not been stung while mowing

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Bertie County,NC
    Posts
    870

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I spray round-up around the hives out to about a foot...then ride right by with the lawn tractor and have never been stung while mowing.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Paducah, KY, USA
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    Don't lose any sleep over this. Just turn the exhaust away from the hive as you stated and keep moving. I asked the same question before I started with bees and was told that the bees seemed to dislike a weedeater more than a lawnmower. I replied that, well...I can understand that. I feel the same way myself. You'll be fine.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland, MI
    Posts
    568

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    5 of my hives are perfectly fine with me mowing close to them. they don;t care about the diesel tractor, and the weed wacker is fine as long as I don;t hit the the hive stand legs too much. The 6th hive is a wild caught swarm, and ever since I've had that one, i suit up to mow near them. Some days they are okay and leave me alone, but other days, they protect themselves. I have thrown down a fair bit of rock salt to kill growth beneath the hives. I understand that this may not work well for many beekeepers.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,379

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I usually wear my jacket and veil when mowing around the hives. Some days they could care less about you being there, other days they are very offended and they let you know it. Bees are like people, they have their good days and their bad days. It seems like it was always their bad days when I tried to mow without a suit.

    As suggested, make sure the exhaust is pointing away from the entrance, and mow when you have the least amount of traffic.
    To everything there is a season....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Richland Iowa USA
    Posts
    148

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I do the same as NewJoe. I spray roundup in the late evening to keep the grass and weeds down then .. just mow. Lot of other good advice too, keeping exhaust and deck exit pointing away from the hive etc.. I DID run into a stand holding four hives this fall... that wasnt really pretty.. mower doesnt HAVE a high gear... Imagining my wife watching out the window as I run past.. followed by the mower....
    www.brokencrayoncrafts.com 6 yrs aiding 40+ hives 2 yrs personal. 17 hives (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Springfield, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    433

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I have only had one mowing season since starting my bees. Mowing near a hive during a nectar dearth was a bad move for me. At other times, it seemed like the pitch of the mower made a difference: when I used a riding mower or push mower, I couldn't get far enough from the hives for my bee's liking. But, my PTO-driven mower didn't seem to bother them. In the end, I usually left the grass near the hives unmown until after dusk. This worked well.
    Pete. New 2013, 7 hives, zone 6a
    To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Collinsville, VA
    Posts
    438

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    First I wear a tyvek disposable suit so I don't mess up my good bee suit. Next I put on a veil and leather work gloves. I then push mow all that I can and follow that up with the weedeater. The only time I've had trouble was during the dearth when I used the wrong procedure and used the weed eater first. Apparently I used it too long and one hive got a little testy.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    Ian gave the best advice on cutting near your hives:
    Smoke the yard and suit up.
    I don't mow during summer dearth, the bees are grumpy then and it's dry enough not to need to.

    I found an electric weed whacker to be less provoking than a gas one where an outlet is available one.

    When I only had one hive I found that if I pulled a gas push mower instead of pushing it as I crossed in front of the hive, I was past it before the guard bees came out and they didn't bother me. (That was one hive. Others sometimes have more diligent guard bees)

    Have fun
    Enjoy your bees

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,430

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I make it a practice not to mow in the early afternoon. New bees during their orientation flights are a little... let's say... testy.
    Most often I drive right by within inches of the hives then trim the weeds every other week.
    During a dearth however, all bets are off.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Haymarket, Virginia
    Posts
    196

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    We clear the "yard" about to 5' with a cordless electric weedeater. The landowners mow the rest with their tractor. No problems...unless I forget to charge the battery pack!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Bell County, KY, USA
    Posts
    364

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I just drive by on my lawn mower and keep on moving.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Bayboro,NC,USA
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    Round-up or any weed killer works for me.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Hiltons,Virginia
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    Bees react different at different times of the season,never take for granted that they will be calm.Wear protection and keep the discharge of the mower away from the hive and avoid bumping the hive with a mower or weedeater.


    www.poorvalleybeefarm.com

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I always suit up just in case - haven't had a bad reaction to either the weed eater or the push mower. As Ian said, try to keep the exhaust and the grass clipping from hitting the entrance.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA, USA
    Posts
    168

    Default Re: Mowing and yard work around bees?

    I've had no problem in 3 years, even the time I bumped a hive, but agree with the advice above. Especially not throwing clippings or exhaust into the hive, not blocking the flight path into hive with my body, avoiding orientation flights, and wearing a veil as a precaution. I would smoke entrances if the bees appeared grumpy.

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