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I am trying to decide where to put my first two beehives. How far away will a hive defend itself when you are not messing with it. For instance, how far away would it need to be from a garden to avoid getting stung while working in the garden. If the hive is about 3 foot from a wooden 6ft tall mostly solid fence, would the bees be defensive towards someone or a dog on the other side of the fence?

Thanks for any help.

Edit* Location is Houston, Texas. Inside the AHB zone.
 

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Welcome to the forum Srod. It would be helpful to put your location in your profile so your question(s) can be answered better. Bees will forage for food for 3 miles or more so expect them to visit your gardens. However, they are not usually "defensive" unless they are defending their hive. When they are out foraging, they are single-minded and will hardly notice you are there. This is not to say that there is zero chance of being stung. Bees fly, so no fence is going to protect a dog or person on the other side. However, that is not being defensive, it is being aggressive.
One worry is whether you are in an area that has Africanized bees. That makes it possible for your purchased bees becoming aggressive if your queen swarms or is superseded. J
 

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You should expect that the area of about 8 feet by 8 feet in front of the hives will be really busy with flying bees. Mostly from 11:00 to 4:00 with orientation flights.

If there is unobstructed sky in front of the hives the working bees will use it as busily as the approach at O'Hare airport.

They will fly up over an obstruction (fence) in front of the hives if there is open sky over the obstruction.

Glen
 

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It's actually a fairly complex answer. In my experience, when the bees are busy as in working a flow, they are far less concerned with the immediate area around them unless the colony is actually physically disturbed. For me, even non-busy bees are not aggressive if they have few stores or brood to protect. That's why it's quite possible to shake a package of bees in a box while wearing a t-shirt. Packages and swarms have less urge to defend.

Now, take a strong colony in the fall with pounds of honey and precious brood..especially if they're managing robbers and yellow jackets and you have a different situation. You'll be a distant concern and a near target. So, there's no set answer. For what it's worth, my home hives are about 20 yards from my driveway....about the same distance from our camper which tends to get a lot of summer visits by my grandson. I use the garden tractor in front of the hives all summer long. Rarely a problem. However, I drive a bit faster in the fall!!
 

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Howdy, SRod; I'm in eastern NC (no AHB issues here, to my knowledge).

My garden is located only ~15' from my 3 hives. I've had bees back there for the past 3 years; do lots of garden/yard work, and have only had a bee take exception to me there once -- and that was 2 days ago! I think she was foraging on the ground and I must've shoveled some dirt on/around her. Naturally, she was pissed majorly, followed me into the house (buzzing angrily), and I finally kept swatting around myself with my jacket until she left (with a stinger half-out, so she had tried to get to me).

I was back there today, prepping a potato bed, and the bees were all over the greens' blossoms within inches of me - and not a sign of unhappiness with me. Still, I may take to carrying my bee jacket out, to keep nearby, in case one of The Girls gets a .... bee in her bonnet about a scary giant mammal being nearby. I think they tend to warn with bumps and angry buzzing before they strike -- as a rule.

Your mileage may vary ....

Mitch
 

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Consider facing the hives toward the fence. That's what I did with my last location--put them near a corner and facing the fence. The bees will fly in/out over the fence and limit the use of a long glide path to the open side.

It makes working them from behind easier.

I had two hives within 10' of our garden. My wife worked the garden nearly every day with our 2-year old tagging along and no one was stung. I did have them keep their distance after I worked the hives, just as a precaution until things settled.

This is in the mid-atlantic, with non-AHB.
 
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