A elderly man mows my grass . My question is how close can he run his finishing mower to my hives? He mows for free and I don't want him getting ate up/ I went with Italian's because they are supposed to be more gentle.
The safe distance can change from day to day with weather factors, and it will change seasonally. A late season strong hive in a dearth will be much more aggressive than and early spring hive. Like Michael says at least wear a veil.
I have mowed right in front of the hives even with the grass blowing in the entrance and never got bothered. I have been standing in front of the hive (yesterday in fact) and got head butted when I wasn't doing anything...
One thing you can do to help out both him and the colony itself is to put some paving stones around the front of the hive.
Keeps grass from growing right in front of the hive so you don't have to get near it to mow, plus it helps (to some degree) cut down on pests like SHB as the larva wiggle out of the hive to try to find dirt to pupate in. If you've got paving stone under the front of the hive, they land on that instead. There is some debate/unsuredness about how far a SHB larva can travel to find soil, but any amount of time out in the open on a hard flat surface is that much more time for a bird or some other insect to come pick it off.
I run the hand push gas lawn mower across the front of the hive. You can keep your distance by just pushing the mower in from the side and avoid walking across the front your self.
A cheap and handy bit of insurance is a mosquito net. They cost less than $5. Keep it in your back pocket. Roll up your shirt collar and do up the top button on your shirt and pull the net over your head and over the collar.
I use the mosquito net for most of my inspections. Only time I had to retreat to a full veil was late summer when pulling honey frames.
I drive between mine with the lawn tractor, so far never had a problem. Two passes, one with the mower deck snubbed up against the hive on one side, then turn around to touch up the other side. But, I usually mow on a nice sunny day, when the bees are hard at work on some nectar source or another. Could be a very different story if the bees are / have been cooped up by weather when the mower shows up. Personally, if the weather isn't nice enough for the bees to be working something, then it's not nice enough to step onto the tractor and go mow. The grass isn't on a schedule, and I have no desire to be out driving the tractor when it's nasty out.
I mow across the fronts of mine, right up close with a lawn tractor, Then down the sides and then across the back. But I usually only make one pass, mow elsewhere for a bit, then another pass. The side passes I make from back to front, so when I come by the entrance I am traveling away. I often weed trim around them too, reaching to the front from the sides, and I don't mess around. Hit it quickly and I am gone. I have never been stung doing this, seems like the exhaust fumes may baffle them for a bit. And I do have one fairly aggressive hive I am very careful around. That being said, now I am jinxed, and they will probably all eat me alive next time.
Most often, I can mow right up to the hives. Some times however, especially during an orientation flight, they get miffed more easily. I know because I did that ONCE. Got stung three times.
Best bet is to apply some type of ground cover around the hives to avoid the grass altogether.
I havn't had any trouble, but I drag the mower around the hives- with me in front- that
way if they get excited about the mower, I'm already past the hive. I use the same tech-
nique with the weed eater, and I never let the mower or weedeater come in contact with the
hive or blocks or wood that supports the hives, as the vibrations could set off several
hives at once....My bees don't seem to notice or mind at all...
I have even bumped a hive with no trouble.
But as Michael says, wear a veil.
Some people smoke the entrances before mowing but I haven't found it necessary.
I don't mow on the same day I am in the hive.
I usually mow early enough or late enough that the orientation flights are over.
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