Hive density in an urban environment?
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  1. #1
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    Default Hive density in an urban environment?

    How many hives can a single apiary support in a fairly urban environment? I know it depends, but have you guys kept any fairly large hive numbers in the city? I have an apiary on an urban farm inside Atlanta and was hoping to keep as many there as I can. I have sixty there overwintering together for ease of feeding, but wondering how many I have to move out in early spring. They seemed to be all finding enough pollen this fall.
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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    Sorry, I just have to ask.....why do you have so many hives?.... and then ask how many you should have.
    I dont understand this.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    Bees can do very well in urban environments.

    But you talk about an urban farm? What is an urban farm, how urban is this area? If it's 5 acre toy farms that have the grass mowed, bees will not do very well at all.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    I'd say the only way to know for sure is "to suck it and see". Suggest you start off with (say) 20, and monitor closely how well they do. Much depends (obviously) on the quantity of nectar-producing plants and trees within range - you may only be able to judge that by experience, although an observational trip around the area might be educational.

    My own area - just about as rural as it gets - is abundant in pollen almost all the year round, but pretty desperate for nectar - hence I'm obliged to supplementary feed sugar (they keep all their honey) in order to support the number of hives I run here.

    Generally speaking, these days urban environments are far more 'bee-friendly' than the rural countryside, but much will depend on how many urban beekeepers have sprung up nearby - as it's becoming more and more fashionable to 'Save the Bees' by keeping a beehive or three, rather than planting nectar-producing plants (which would be far more ecologically beneficial).
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    as a matter of practicality, keeping your 60 hives together to feed over winter should be just fine. As for how many hives to keep there in the spring, it's all local. Including local laws. Check with your local Big Brother to learn what local laws allow and work from there. You could very well be limited on a hives-per-acre basis or similar restrictions.
    Also check with your local beek's club to learn how many hives are already kept in the neighborhood. You might not want to keep a max limit of hives at that location.
    Never ask a barber it he thinks you need a haircut.

  7. #6
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    Default

    My hives are all in urban Louisville. They do really well. Old urban areas are incredibly diverse in forage compared to a brand new construction development subdivision with grass lawn deserts and lack of old growth trees, shrubs,etc.. It's really site specific. Urban can vary. Like on top of a building vs in an old row house neighborhood vs in more suburby area. Proximity to neighbors and your neighbors opinion is probably most important factor as to if and how many hives...if local laws don't restrict. For my area it's not holding capacity of the land (forage) but a neighbor limitation.

    I have 25 hives on a 2 acre historic plot 4.5 miles from downtown where neighbors are farther apart then your normal subdivision. Closest house is 100ft away and next closest is 250. Bees do excellent, neighbors don't mind at all. I wouldn't hesitate putting 40 there but I would need more help to manage and harvest so I keep it at 25.

    I have 5 hives on a 1/20 acre plot 50ft x 150ft 3 miles from downtown and that's pushing it. The houses are just too close and bees are in the neighbor's yard. The bees arnt aggressive but most people are fearful of bees, it's a mental thing and annoyance. It's just too many bees, to much density realtive to people/houses. If I could out those bees on top of a building 30ft tall then maybe 10 would work.

    Send me Google map image or location and I'll let you know what I think.
    Last edited by burns375; 10-20-2018 at 03:57 PM.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    If too urban, they will be make 'honey' from snowcones, spilled drinks, and other garbage stuff.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jadeguppy View Post
    If too urban, they will be make 'honey' from snowcones, spilled drinks, and other garbage stuff.
    Typically the dumpster diving only occurs in dearth. For me most of the real honey has already been made and pulled off the hive. It could be a problem if you leave honey supers on July-Aug in my area. Hummingbird feeder too. But yeah good point.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    Quote Originally Posted by mischief View Post
    Sorry, I just have to ask.....why do you have so many hives?.... and then ask how many you should have.
    I dont understand this.
    I completely don't understand your question. Why do you have as many hives as you do??
    Ask two beekeepers, get three answers

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    Quote Originally Posted by burns375 View Post
    My hives are all in urban Louisville. They do really well. Old urban areas are incredibly diverse in forage compared to a brand new construction development subdivision with grass lawn deserts and lack of old growth trees, shrubs,etc.. It's really site specific. Urban can vary. Like on top of a building vs in an old row house neighborhood vs in more suburby area. Proximity to neighbors and your neighbors opinion is probably most important factor as to if and how many hives...if local laws don't restrict. For my area it's not holding capacity of the land (forage) but a neighbor limitation.

    I have 25 hives on a 2 acre historic plot 4.5 miles from downtown where neighbors are farther apart then your normal subdivision. Closest house is 100ft away and next closest is 250. Bees do excellent, neighbors don't mind at all. I wouldn't hesitate putting 40 there but I would need more help to manage and harvest so I keep it at 25.

    I have 5 hives on a 1/20 acre plot 50ft x 150ft 3 miles from downtown and that's pushing it. The houses are just too close and bees are in the neighbor's yard. The bees arnt aggressive but most people are fearful of bees, it's a mental thing and annoyance. It's just too many bees, to much density realtive to people/houses. If I could out those bees on top of a building 30ft tall then maybe 10 would work.

    Send me Google map image or location and I'll let you know what I think.
    33.7211866, -84.4044198

    It sounds somewhat similar to your apiary with 25 hives. Definitely not an issue with neighbors, it's on half of a huge concrete pad.
    Ask two beekeepers, get three answers

  12. #11
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    Default

    I think it's a pretty ideal spot. You can drive right up to to hives, flat and paved. Ide perhaps be just a bit concerned about the intense heat from the pavement and lack of shade in summer. Contrary to what people say I've found part shade provided by decidious trees to be best in southern climates. Not only do I feel the bees do better but it's a heck of a cooler for the beekeeper too. The trees provide shade from the summer heat but then loose their leaves to provide sunlight in winter.

    If your neighbors and city are good.... ide put as many as I could take care of. The surrounding area is old growth urban likely lots of good forage in alleys and non-sprayed yards and big old trees Typically these areas are incredibly diverse in flora. Bees love weeds in these natural yards. To most humans these untreated row house neighborhood lawns may seem unsightly but are actually haven for the ecology. Usually very little or no pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides are used like in the perfect lawn subdivisions.

    I think you scored a pretty good spot.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    Nice old growth neighborhood. Plenty of quality forage. I agree that it looks like things could get toasty in the summer. Thought about putting them against the fence line? It looks like there is some cover provided although it is hard to tell.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    Personally i'd limit it to ten or 20 hives. Might be plenty of forage for 60 but i'd be concerned that many would get attention and become an issue with you losing that outyard. At my home i have a nursery. So i start nucs or packages and move them out when they are all grown up. Move back nucs for winter that have not gotten to full hive status.
    Terrence

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    The fringes are now all covered with kudzu unfortunately... There is very little cover. I could maybe paint the concrete with white paint? Another option is to let the kudzu start spreading around the hives, but trim it back just enough. That would cut down on a ton of radiant heat.

    The nice thing is the small hive beetle larvae fry on the ground. I almost never see SHB, while there are often loads in the other apiaries.
    Ask two beekeepers, get three answers

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    Quote Originally Posted by kaizen View Post
    Personally i'd limit it to ten or 20 hives. Might be plenty of forage for 60 but i'd be concerned that many would get attention and become an issue with you losing that outyard. At my home i have a nursery. So i start nucs or packages and move them out when they are all grown up. Move back nucs for winter that have not gotten to full hive status.
    Currently there is nothing around them for about a hundred yards or more in every direction. If and when they install the urban farm, there could definitely be a problem, though. I'll maybe try 20-25...I have more than enough space for the others at other apiaries, but nothing beats the ease of this site.
    Ask two beekeepers, get three answers

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    Hey, is it a public farm? I'm just curious where it is...

    Quote Originally Posted by Branman View Post
    How many hives can a single apiary support in a fairly urban environment? I know it depends, but have you guys kept any fairly large hive numbers in the city? I have an apiary on an urban farm inside Atlanta and was hoping to keep as many there as I can. I have sixty there overwintering together for ease of feeding, but wondering how many I have to move out in early spring. They seemed to be all finding enough pollen this fall.
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Branman View Post
    Currently there is nothing around them for about a hundred yards or more in every direction. If and when they install the urban farm, there could definitely be a problem, though. I'll maybe try 20-25...I have more than enough space for the others at other apiaries, but nothing beats the ease of this site.
    I hear ya. all it takes it one worried person. i had three hives all with new fliers one day after a week of horrible spring weather. so looked like a swarm to someone. had to give the fire dept and police some honey to have it not be an issue. we all know all it takes is some person to claim they were attacked and stung and they KNOW its yours. good luck.
    Terrence

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    Not sure if time/resources allow... but if you have kudzu... what about an arbor roof, the kind grapes would grow over? At least the kudzu is free...

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Hive density in an urban environment?

    it all depends on how many busy china restrants with active dumpsters. sounds silly but this is a major urban nectar [of sorts] source.

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