Suburban Hive Location
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Ridgewood, NJ, USA
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    11

    Default Suburban Hive Location

    I am planning to start beekeeping this spring about the location where I intend to put my hives. I have purchased 2 hives and am about to order 2 nucs of locally raised Italians. I would really like to keep the bees in the backyard but I would like some insight as to whether it would be a good idea.

    I have a typical suburban lot size (probably about .2 acres). On one side of my yard I border a walkway that leads up to the field behind a local elementary school, I obviously don't want the bees to be in sight of that. On the other side of my yard I have a garage with the far wall (away from the walkway) about 5' from my property line/fence. There is a row of dense 12' arborvitae (evergreen) along that fence line that create a complete visual barrier. I don't think I could see into my neighbors yard if I tried they are so dense. In the back, my yard backs up to another properties backyard who just put in an above ground swimming pool. They can see down the strip between my garage and my other neighbors property but a simple 6'x6' section of fence would fix that.

    I am hoping to keep my bees in this 5' strip between my garage and my neighbors property. I would face the entrance towards my property (away from the swimming pool) and provide a source of water for them to drink from. I was thinking of doing a small water garden about 15' in front of the hive. I plan to have this set up before I bring in the bees so they can find it instead of the swimming pool on their first orientation flights. The other issue of this spot is that because it is between a garage and a row of 12' arborvitae it gets little to no sun.

    What do you all think of this location? Am I asking for trouble with the no sun factor?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    havana fl
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    1,400

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    the bees can do O.K. without direct sun. Even with a water source I bet they find the pool.But ya never can tell with bees. Go for it ya can always move em.
    Iím really not that serious

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
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    2,300

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    It's rare for a beekeeper to have an ideal location, usually there are compromises.

    Full sun is recommended for Small Hive Beetle, but that may not be a major problem in your area.

    I live in the woods, and my colonies are mostly in the shade. If I wanted to optimize bee health and honey production, I'd have to move them to a sunnier location, away from home. But I'm happy with reasonably-healthy bees and moderate honey production because my primary goal is to enjoy my bees, and for that, I like having them nearby. I like walking over after work and watching them for awhile. I like looking out the window and seeing them.

    As for water, your plan sounds good, but you may want to add something to the water to give it a scent, especially at first until the bees get used to it. Some beekeepers add a bit of Clorox.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ridgewood, NJ, USA
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    11

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    Thanks for the quick responses and the support! I have heard that the sun helps get the hives up and to work earlier in the morning. The person who I am getting my nucs from also has Carniolans available, should I think about getting these instead of the Italians? I heard one of the advantages of the Carniolans is that they start earlier in the morning. Would this possibly counteract the late start from the lack of sun? Would you recommend Carniolans to a beginning beekeeper?

    Thanks

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    St Albans, Vermont
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    2,276

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    I have two hives in a residential neighborhood in the city. I have a similar situation, but with a park off the back yard instead of a school.

    Personally, I would recommend a discussion with the neighbors adjacent to your property before installing bees.

    When I first got ready to keep bees, I really dreaded that idea, but I approached the neighbors on each side of me, and asked what they thought of the idea before I ordered the bees. One was hesitant, but cautiously accepting. The other had no hesitation. Since then, the whole thing has been a lot less stress than it could have been.

    From there, other neighbors have gradually come to know - always through me or the other neighbors telling them. No one has discovered them through a bother. But the truth is, that they can cause harm - particularly in the form of fear and apprehension. And to bring that potential into a person's home (yard, neighborhood) without getting their input is irresponsible. It invites mistrust, rather than encourages understanding.

    Here's an example of the first time I was happy to have told my neighbors - DAY ONE: The bees (one hive at first) were put in place next to the house during the night and the next morning was hot and sunny. I went outside and there were THOUSANDS of bees in the air. The space between my house and the nearest neighbor was FULL of bees as they explored the new site and oriented themselves. My neighbor was standing in his yard watching the spectacle - apprehensive - but part of it. He was included and interested. Soon the bees settled in, and so have my neighbors. Since then, they are quite interested. I gave out honey at Christmas time, and the interest has deepened. People have even seemed to become somewhat 'proud' of having them in the neighborhood.

    That's not to say that one won't freak out at some point. This could always happen. But at least I have given people a chance to have their say ahead of time.

    If a swarm lands on one of their cars, they're going to be a lot less likely to call the police, and a whole lot more likely to let me have a chance to get involved, and I am a lot more able to help them understand the bees rather than blindly fear them.

    If the law in your area prohibits bees, I'm not sure what the answer is. If I had any relationship at all with my neighbors, I think I'd still start by including them in my plans.

    You may have done some of this already, but your post sounds like you're trying to keep them secret. If this is not the case, then great.

    I do understand the urge to get to beekeeping, and to have them close. I truly do.


    Adam

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Yukon, Oklahoma
    Posts
    149

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    I have a hive in my backyard and so far the neighbors haven't said anything....and I live right in the middle of a neighborhood in a major city. 6 foot stockade fence and the bees then have to fly high. I also have put in butterfly bushes forcing the bees to go high prior to leaving the yard. I have a water garden for their water. I have also invited friends and neighbors to come over and watch the bees if they want...and have had a few take me up on the offer....this has helped out a lot. Anything else that I can do to help you out...just email me.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Maple Ridge B.C. Canada
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    86

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    I started urban beekeeping last spring. My wife and I were driving by a bee supply store and went in on a whim, and now I have a problem I'm addicted!!! We left with a full hive with frames, bodies, bottom boards, lid, suit, gloves, smoker, brush, tools and a really heavy credit card.

    we are on a 4000 sq ft lot, i thought I would be moving the hive for sure. The great thing about being in a small urban area is that the girls have to go else where to find sources of nectar and pollen. All of the activity is them coming and going none really spend any time in the yards.

    I not only bought a package I started picking up swarms, and had 4 hive at one time. (this was a little much) 2 for use is great..... My neighbours didn't know anything until Christmas and they received honey as a gift and a few pictures.

    Water was easy for us as we took a big pot and made a small water feature and the girl love it.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Lee\'s Summit, MO
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    2,514

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    I used to keep a couple full size hives in my back yard. The neighbors knew about them and had no trouble. I did make sure to requeen every year to avoid creating swarms that could easily freak out the uninititated.

    The only reason I moved them is I had SHB issues and the back yard is 75% shade. I do still use my back yard for settling captured swarms and keeping weaker nucs (avoids the full size hives that can sometimes rob them). For teh first time, I did have a neighborhood boy get stung on the ear when he ran right in front of a nuc this Fall though. No further issues but I'll keep them nearer the creek away from playing kids next year. If something goes wrong you'll get pretty uncomfortable.

    From what your describing I think you'll do fine but, it's good to have a back up location planned if there are any problems.
    Ninja, is not in the dictionary. Well played Ninja's, well played...

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    4,228

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    First time beekeeper, with two hives on a .2 acre lot, next to a school, and a neighbor's pools, what could possibly go wrong....

    I started out with 2 packages nearly 10 tens years ago. By the second year my 3 acre lot wasn't big enough for me to get away from a monster colony of nasty bees. I've since learned an enormous amount on what it takes to keep bees healthy, happy, and to avoid being a nusance to others. Of course my experience was not typical, but the fact is that bees are wild creatures and therefore there will always be some measure of unpredictability.

    Please read the above post by Adam Foster Collins, when finished read it again. Then plan to have a meeting with at least your immediate neighbors. Don't know what to tell you about the school. Chances are good that if someone at the school finds out about your plans you will encounter resistance. You'd be surprised to find out how many parents think their kids are allergic to bee stings....better have good liability insurance.

    Seriously, the nearby school poses some risk as does the neighbors pool. Perhaps you should consider keeping your bees outside of the city at least until you have learned the basics.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ridgewood, NJ, USA
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    11

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    Thank you for all the replies.
    Adam and Astro- I agree with your concerns about neighbors and the school. I would really not like to keep these hives a secret. I am just afraid of getting "Are you freaking crazy!" as a response. I have not had the opportunity to speak with any neighbors because I am traveling right now and I'm not sure when I will be able to because I return to school as soon as I get back (I am a senior in college and want to start the hives after I graduate). I am going to make my best effort to reach out to them on the one day I am home.
    I am also going to reach out to my town recreation department that runs a community garden to see if they would be interested in letting me keep the hives there. They have a pretty good sized wooded area next to the garden which backs up to a stream. I could probably place my hives back in there somewhere so they would be out of peoples way and not right on the edge of someones garden. Does anyone have any good advice on how I should approach this or have any links to some good reading material that I could bring in which would support my cause?

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    St Albans, Vermont
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    2,276

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    Quote Originally Posted by blazin View Post
    Thank you for all the replies.
    Adam and Astro- I agree with your concerns about neighbors and the school. I would really not like to keep these hives a secret. I am just afraid of getting "Are you freaking crazy!" as a response...
    I know exactly how you feel, but the possibility of that response is just the reason you should ask. If an immediate neighbor feels that way, it's WAY better to know that before their kid gets stung and has a reaction.

    Even in my case, where my immediate neighbors have responded positively - there are still nervous people. Just the other night, at a neighborhood New Years get-together, I mentioned the bees to a newcomer (a well to do stay-at-home mom) and she was quick to get into a tale of her child being stung by a 'swarm' of bees in the park. The kid had had a reaction and swelled right up. She was well on her way to the conclusion that it had been my bees - right there in the conversation within a few moments. But thankfully, with the already positive position of the neighbors, others jumped in to assure her that it was much more likely to have been wasps, and that the bees were little threat to the kids.

    Despite all of this, I'm still looking to move out of town. Keeping bees in a highly populated area is a challenge.


    Adam

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ridgewood, NJ, USA
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    11

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    Just the other night, at a neighborhood New Years get-together, I mentioned the bees to a newcomer (a well to do stay-at-home mom) and she was quick to get into a tale of her child being stung by a 'swarm' of bees in the park.
    All of my neighbors are well to do stay home moms! That's why I'm afraid to ask. Your right though, it's better to find out ahead of time then to wait until they flip out. I'm thinking of approaching it as, "I am planning to get a beehive and just wanted to make sure no one in your family has a serious allergic reaction". Do you think this implies that they are likely to get stung? I feel like if I ask if they are "OK with it" I will get a very predictable answer...NO. The way I see it, if I inform them of it politely and make sure no one is allergic, then at least I can't be called negligent or irrasponsible and hopefully they will contact me directly instead of the police if they ever have a complaint. On that note... I have checked the laws in my town and there are no restrictions on keeping bees.

    I do have a few questions though.

    How likely is it that a neighbor on the far side of a 12' hedge row and out of the flight path would get stung?

    Will there be a noticeable increase in the number of bees in my neighborhood from 2 hives? I have assumed that other than right in front of the hive and in the flight path the bees will be spread out to much to be noticeable.

    I would like to be able to tell them that they won't see any significant increase in the number of bees in their yard and it is unlikely that they are at any greater risk of getting stung. But only if that is a reasonable thing to say.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Yukon, Oklahoma
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    149

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    I personally wouldn't say a thing...just put up tall fence/shrubs that force the bees to fly high. Put out water, so they will stay close by, and wait for someone to say something to you. My neighbors never knew I had hives until my kids told their kids...then they were use to the girls and never questioned anything. Just my thoughts.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Brown County, IN
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    2,300

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    Quote Originally Posted by okbees View Post
    I personally wouldn't say a thing...
    Neither would I. Just like I wouldn't inform/ask neighbors if I were getting a dog.

    As a new beekeeper, you may not be aware of one particular hive on a high-traffic, urban lot - the South Lawn of the White House:
    http://citybees.blogspot.com/2009_04_01_archive.html

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/...ite-house-bees

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Polk Co, NC, USA
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    201

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    I didn't ask my neighbors either, but they are not that close by. I did put a little lemon grass essential oil in the intended water source and it worked like a charm.

    When my kids' friends come over, they are very interested in the bees. We usually have mini lessons on bee behavior etc. We also go over the differences between bees and yellow jackets. They love to show their moms about them too. It is amazing to me how many people think that bees will just attack you randomly... I was changing a feeder and the girls were all over my fingers licking up the last of the syrup and a neighbor boy asked "why aren't they stinging you?"

    As far as I know my son and I are the only ones that have been stung and we deserved it.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Fort Myers, Florida, USA
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    200

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    We're downtown, in the historic district (on a tiny lot too). Most of my neighbors know I keep bees (one hive right now), and if you look, you can see the hive from the street, sitting on the far side against my neighbor's fence. My husband and myself make sure to bring it up at some point when meeting new neighbors...

    I have yet to get any really negative feedback, it is mostly curiosity and requests for honey later in the year. I have offered to all my neighbors who seem interested or supportive to come watch a hive inspection. Most also know they will get some honey in the fall. The kid around the block really wants to help in the summer, and his mom thinks it's great.

    The only one I was apprehensive about was next door, but they aren't here all year and bought their house long after we bought ours. They don't seem to mind at all.

    One neighbor even offered to let me use his vacant lots across the street to expand, as I can only have two hives in our yard (city ordinance) and he likes the idea of multiple hives in the neighborhood (we get a lot of swarms here).

    I am very lucky to be so fortunate, and I realize that. I know that my involvement in our neighborhood helps. Every situation is different. Just try to go into it with a positive attitude and you might be surprised!


  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    4,228

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    Not to beat this to death, but again, wild creatures are unpredictable, period. Honeybees are NOT like a family pet. Anyone who believes that they will at all times either predict or control the behavior of wild creatures needs to read the book Jurassic Park. Things will happen outside of your control. It could happen within the first few minutes or in five years down the road. How your neighbors behave is very likely a function of the amount of information that they have PRIOR to the event. If you proceed with giving them no information, then you're at the mercy of what they believe (which can be very scary for both parties) or what someone else tells them. Personally, I prefer the provide good sound knowledge so as to diminish the hysteria that may be present.
    Last edited by AstroBee; 01-12-2011 at 08:39 AM.

  19. #18
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    Feb 2010
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    Fort Myers, Florida, USA
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    200

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    Astrobee, I agree with you completely, which is why I make it a policy to tell my neighbors. That gives me chance to educate and inform. I would much rather be up front about it and allow them to ask their bazillion questions than have to hear about it later. Plus, it gives the impression that you aren't hiding something, which psychologically, people distrust (if that makes sense). I talk about it like I talk about my job, or sewing, or cooking. My husband (who isn't the family beek and readily admits it) talks me up like he thinks it's the coolest thing in the world.

    If we lived in the country on ten acres, it might be a different story, but since we live in a tight-knit 3- x 3-block area where everyone knows everyone, we are very public about it.
    Last edited by Barry; 01-12-2011 at 08:30 AM. Reason: quoting

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Phelps Co. Missouri USA
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    847

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    { I am just afraid of getting "Are you freaking crazy!" }

    You must be kidding right ?

    Any body seeing you with a net over your head, a smoking tea pot in one hand and a hive knife in the other, playing in a bees nest, already knows your NUTS !

    PCM

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Salisbury, Maryland, USA
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    29

    Default Re: Suburban Hive Location

    Yeah I've been breeding venomous snakes for years and now getting into beekeeping.. I'm pretty sure i've been on my neighbors crazy list for a while :P
    BUT luckly I have a 2 acre field at my disposal behind my house.
    Im still gonna plant a hedge & honey suckles in a 20' circle around my hives to conceal them from plain sight.
    Should be a nice wind break in the winter too..

    George
    Last edited by Barry; 01-12-2011 at 02:27 PM. Reason: excessive quoting

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