Is backyard beehive feasible? [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

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02-15-2020, 12:28 PM
Hello to the group! First post, so be gentle with me😆

I am an interested newbie and considering placing two hives in my backyard and was hoping to get opinions.

I live in a subdivision. My town does not have restrictions with bees. My HOA does not have restrictions other than vague wording about not having anything considered a nuisance. My backyard is 30’x60’ with 6’ cedar fence so hives would not be visible. I have neighbors sharing the left side fence and a neighbor behind that shares the rear span. The right side fence borders a 25’ common area with a sidewalk that cuts through the middle of the block which sees very little foot traffic. So it is 25’ from that fence to the next neighbor. I don’t foresee any problems with the closest neighbors. I have a lawn guy that mows and weed eats once a week. We have two small dogs.

With what I’ve described, is it possible to keep a couple of hives? And what suggestion are there if possible.

Thanks so much!

02-15-2020, 01:36 PM
Taildragger, welcome to Beesource. This subject comes up quite often so search our site to find and read other threads. Best idea with an HOA is fly under the radar, like 50' AGL. Dont let anyone know you have them and I doubt you will have a problem. Make sure you have a copy of the bylaws in hand in case one of your neighbors figures it out and asks. Many municipalities restrict the number of backyard hives to two and a nuc unless you have some acreage so I would start there.

02-15-2020, 03:24 PM
I avoid putting bees near people, except farmers which like the bees. I have had to move bee hives because they would swarm around neighbor's pools and frighten them. I think bees actually do guard water areas such as swimming pools because they attack me occasionally when I move quickly toward their water source, but for the most part the bees are not particularly aggressive or dangerous, unless you are very allergic to bee stings. It is just the swarm of them around the water source that is scary to people who don't understand honeybees.

You might want to try putting out water sources with certain scents like chlorine that might help with your neighbor's swimming pools. With essential oils you just put a few drops to fill up a lot of water. Essential oils like lemon grass are very concentrated and you only need a few drops.

I would try and keep the beehives concealed from people. And I would not go into the hive during a dearth, which would cause the hive to become aggressive and patrol the area around your neighbor's houses for several days. If you want to go into a hive during a dearth I would give them gallons of thick sugar syrup days before going into the hive. Well fed bees are gentler than bees during the dearth, and so they will not remember you disturbing their colony after you are done. I would feed before going into a colony during the dearth anyway, because stress from going into the colony during dearth can kill the colony, but sugar syrup will heal or keep them from being stressed.

02-15-2020, 04:24 PM
A topbar hive works in the front yard as well. People don't seem to know what it is...


In all seriousness, plant some tall flowers like Mexican sunflowers around your hives in the back yard about 6 feet out in each direction to direct the flight path upwards, and your neighbors probably won't even realize what's growing inside the center. I don't advise that you talk to them about it either. There is always one neighbor who won't agree with your plans.

02-15-2020, 06:42 PM
I agree with JW and Ruthie, but would add that you should look up whether you have Africanized bees in your area. If you do, it is possible for your colony to re-queen itself with Africanized drones which would make your colony more aggressive and possibly harmful to you and your neighbors. There are ways of dealing with this, but something you should be aware of before taking the plunge. Related to this, it is helpful to include your location in your profile. Beekeeping is local. What works for me in VT might not work for someone in Mississippi. J

02-15-2020, 11:24 PM
This is my situation. So far no problems. My side fences are chain link so the neighbors can see into my back yard and I have had no complaints in 4 years. I told my back neighbor I had bees, and he is fine with them. I do try to keep the hives behind the bushes and shed so there is no line-of-sight from neighbors, but it isn't always possible.

It really depends on the neighbors. If my neighbors really hated the bees, or were highly allergic, I'd strongly consider moving the bees to a rural property.

02-16-2020, 01:34 AM
Be prepared to move them. Have a site elsewhere (3+ miles away) ready. If you need to move your bees (anaphylactic neighbour - as AR1 suggests - for example!) you will have to do so at very short notice (hours).

Clip your queens and be rigorous in your swarm prevention and control.

02-17-2020, 12:03 AM
Thanks for the input everyone. All great info.

02-20-2020, 12:54 AM
Portland OR;residential area, homes on all sides. 6 foot cedar fence. 2 small dogs. 7 hives. Bee suits for grandkids. Dogs ignore bees, vice versa. Bee leaves hive, doesn’t go next door, goes up 30’ & heads off. DO have a water source always available. DO requeen any aggressive hives, and while waiting die-off of agressors, keep them fed, not disturbed, and consider breaking hive into smaller units.

03-02-2020, 03:58 PM
The term "backyard beekeeper" is a very appropriate term, and meaning exactly what those 2 words mean. There is no lot size requirement to be a backyard beekeeper.

For the least amount of neighbor disruption with your bees, a couple things to consider; (no order)
a.) A minimum of a basic solid 6' fence is advised. This gets bees up first then out of your yard, so as they disperse on their hunt for nectar/pollen they're at a height above the normal people traffic. Therefore minimal interaction or notice of bees by others.
b.) If your neighbors have a pool or water fountain and you don't, ya may just want to add a water feature in your own yard including salt and/or minerals so your bees go to your water source. Bees use huge amounts of water for cooling in warmer weather days.

03-17-2020, 07:41 AM
I am in Michigan in a neighborhood, with similar experience to above. Although a few of the neighbors I have known for years also know of the bees and have no troubles, a new one might move in anytime and have some unwarranted fears. Here are some tips from my perspective:

- Keep your hives as "camoflagued" as much as possible. Mine are all natural-wood colored as much as possible, and put in a place out-of-sight for nearly everybody back in the garden area
- Aim your entrances away place that may have foot traffic, so nobody accidentally walks into the "flight line". Bees really don't always seem to watch where they are going during takeoff
- Water would be great to put out, especially with a bit of saline in my experience. Our old pool was salt water, and it was absolutely a death trap for thirsty bees during dry spells
- Try to limit inspection to times when neighbors are not poking about. Having somebody prowling around in a big white hazmat-looking suit scares people (especially lately)
- Dogs are no issue for us, bees and dog get along fine, they ignore each other. This is even with my 100+ lb bear-colored dog standing right next to hive
- Working in the garden I have no troubles either, unless I am parked in the flight path. Sting-less collisions can occur

Good luck, and hope your new bees do well!

William Bagwell
03-17-2020, 04:27 PM
- Try to limit inspection to times when neighbors are not poking about. Having somebody prowling around in a big white hazmat-looking suit scares people (especially lately)

This very thought crossed my mind six months ago when I decided to order a tan jacket rather than traditional white. Wife thought I was nuts:shhhh: Primary reason was the iron in our water which stains every thing. So looks like I now have two good reasons;) Oh, she went with lavender for her full suit.