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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in a fairly dense urban location with mostly identical housing and I think my bees are getting lost returning to the hive and its bothering my neighbor. I am searching for suggestions and ideas for how to deal with the issue. Whenever there is strong activity outside the hive there is also corresponding activity on the other side of the house which happens to also be the pathway to the back yard for the neighbor. Bees drop down from above the roof line and just kind of fly lazy circles in that area, my best guess is that they are looking for the hive but came down one house over. There is a photo from above of the house and where everything is occurring. The green square is the location of the hive, red squares are areas where I have not seen any bees flying and the blue square is the problem area.
Lost Bees.jpg

So far the only ideas I have come up with are either some kind of repellent or some way to make the house more distinct. On the repellent front looking things up has led me to consider, peppermint plants, some kind of citronella spray, mothballs, cucumber peels, garlic or cinnamon. Not sure which if any of those things will work, if it will have to be maintained indefinitely or if over time the bees will learn to avoid that area. My other idea was to make the house distinct by marking it somehow and I came up with clear UV reflective paint and marking lines on the roof above the hive.

Its been a pretty long battle to be able to keep bees at the house at all, and its contingent on both neighbors continuing to be okay with it. Negotiation is unfortunately not a likely option.
 

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I am sure many people on here are going to respond with excellent tools for you. WOW! Hope your neighborhood never catches fire. I am seeing a back yard? Yes? You might want to paint 2x4's and or have some kind of visual thing such as a FLAG/ water feature such as a hidden fountain like I have. In the Summer time when the heat is 100 plus consistently I have 2 sun shade clothes that I put up on my 4x4 post for shading the bee hives. It's really a matter of making your house clearly marked with reference points so that the bees know the difference between cookie cutter homes.
Anyhow 2x4's painted and in some kinda shape that the bees can distinguish as a reference is probably going to help. I have no clue as to what tree or if any trees you could plant as HOA rules. My bee stand is 30" off the ground and it's got 3 bee hives on it. Your going to probably need to paint your bee hive lid a bright color in hopes that helps your bees.
Bees go off of location not sight so much. If you move a bee hive during the day just 2 ft. You'll see the bees looking for the bee hive even though it's 2ft away. RIDICULOUS! Your bees are oriented in the AM and since they're going off of large houses, that's the problem. Having a multitude of differences I would think helps out. You definitely want to make your area stand out clearly to the bees VS the bees having the neighbors path very similar. If you can put a flag on your home, I would think that is a landmarker for your bees. Hope that helps. The more landmarks the easier it is. Bees are pretty smart, but apparently it's a challenge in cookie cutterville.

OH>>> 1 more thing. If and when you add land marks, I would recommend doing it at night, so when orientation flights happen they know it from the first flight.
 

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Wow, you are sitting on a research project! Great job fighting to get bees. Keep us posted on what ended up working for you. I like the idea of painting the lid a bright color as mentioned, also maybe reverse the hive front and back so the flight path leads them in and out of the park area behind your house in the pic. All the best.
 

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One of the first navigational aids for aircraft was the rotating beacon. first at airports and later in ranges that allowed cross country flight. Many still exist and are marked on aeronautical charts. Perhaps bees would also orient to a light source. Perhaps the neighbours won't complain. Perhaps the owners of the property or HOA will allow installation...
Good luck-
Bill
 

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Not sure what to say about lost bees, but Littleton allows beekeeping, so your neighbors can't prevent you from keepng bees.

From the City of Littleton web page:

10-4-14: BEEKEEPING: [/EMAIL]
(A) Definitions: The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this section, shall have meanings ascribed to them in this section:

APIARY: A place where one or more beehives are kept.

BEE: The adult stage of the common domestic honeybee, Apis mellifera species.

BEEKEEPER: Any person who owns or maintains a bee colony.

COLONY: A hive and its equipment and appurtenances, including bees, comb, honey, pollen, and brood.

HIVE: A structure intended for the housing of one bee colony. A hive, including the attached honey supers, shall not exceed twelve (12) cubic feet in size.

ROBBING: The pilfering of honey from a weak colony by other honeybees or insects.

TRACT: A contiguous parcel of land under common ownership.


(B) Hives: All bee colonies shall be kept in hives with removable combs, which shall be kept in sound and usable condition.


(C) Setback: All hives shall be located at least five feet (5') from any adjoining property with the back of the hive facing the nearest adjoining property.


(D) Fencing Of Flyways: In each instance in which any colony is situated within twenty five feet (25') of a developed public or private property line of the tract upon which the apiary is situated, as measured from the nearest point on the hive to the property line, the beekeeper shall establish and maintain a flyway barrier at least six feet (6') in height consisting of a solid wall or fence parallel to the property line and extending ten feet (10') beyond the colony in each direction so that all bees are forced to fly at an elevation of at least six feet (6') above ground level over the property lines in the vicinity of the apiary.


(E) Water: Each property owner or beekeeper shall ensure that a convenient source of water is available at all times to the bees so that the bees will not congregate at swimming pools, bibcocks, pet water bowls, birdbaths or other water sources where they may cause human, bird or domestic pet contact. The water shall be maintained so as not to become stagnant.


(F) Maintenance: Each property owner or beekeeper shall ensure that no bee comb or other materials that might encourage robbing are left upon the grounds of the apiary site. Upon their removal from the hive, all such materials shall promptly be disposed of in a sealed container or placed within a building or other beeproof enclosure.


(G) Queens: In any instance in which a colony exhibits usually aggressive characteristics by stinging or attempting to sting without due provocation or exhibits an unusual disposition toward swarming, it shall be the duty of the beekeeper to requeen the colony. Queens shall be selected from stock bred for gentleness and nonswarming characteristics.


(H) Colony Densities:

1. It shall be unlawful to keep any colony on a multiple-family lot or to keep more than the following number of colonies on any tract within the city, based upon the size or configuration of the tract on which the apiary is situated:

(a) Less than one-half ([SUP]1[/SUP]/[SUB]2[/SUB]) acre lot size: Four (4) colonies;

(b) One-half ([SUP]1[/SUP]/[SUB]2[/SUB]) acre or more but less than one acre lot size: Six (6) colonies;

(c) One acre or larger lot size: Eight (8) colonies;

(d) Regardless of lot size, where all hives are situated at least two hundred feet (200') in any direction from all property lines of the lot on which the apiary is situated, there shall be no limit to the number of colonies.

2. For each two (2) colonies authorized under colony densities, subsection (H)1 of this section, there may be maintained upon the same tract one nucleus colony in a hive structure not exceeding one standard nine and five-eighths inch (9[SUP]5[/SUP]/[SUB]8[/SUB]") depth ten (10) frame hive body with no supers attached as required from time to time for management of swarms. Each such nucleus colony shall be disposed of or combined with an authorized colony within thirty (30) days after the date it is acquired.


(I) Prohibited: The keeping by any person of bee colonies in the city not in strict compliance with this section is prohibited. Any bee colony not residing in a hive structure intended for beekeeping, or any swarm of bees, or any colony residing in a standard or homemade hive which, by virtue of its condition, has obviously been abandoned by the beekeeper, is unlawful and may be summarily destroyed or removed from the city by the city manager or designee. (Ord. 9, Series of 2009)
 

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I do not think they are lost. Sounds like orientating. New foragers will do this typically in the afternoon btwn 1-3pm. They start with take off and landing, later they do what every new flyer would want...take a spin around the block. These circles have purpose as they are learning the landmarks for the area. You can add more landmarks but I assure you they are not lost.

Assuming it's returning foragers they are going to take the bee line. Anything but lazy more like efficiency at work. I live on 4 acre pasture. On a honey flow there are times I see bees buzzing at my height straight across the yard. Not much to do about it.

How will you be addressing things when it's dearth and they are flying around your neighborhood windows because someone has honey in the cupboards. Yes that happens. I see it my home yard every year. If they could knock and come in they would. Then there is the water which has already been raised as well.

Good luck and keep us posted on your solutions.
 

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I am guessing its an HOA issue then? the city is pridy good on bees, they would say you could have 4 hives on that lot...lol
here are some shapes some one did some work on an thought they worked well for marking mateing nucs (I don't rember were I got it from)
nuc markings.jpg
I would pick a shape, make it out of 8-12' 2x4s paint it and put it on the roof (as FD suggested) that way it can be removed if needed (HOA issues, didn't work, etc), given our winds out here you might need to find a way to secure it, then look in how people move hives short distances and trigger reorientation.
 

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One other thing to think about: when your bees are very active so are all the other colonies in the area. It's possible that there is a feral colony living in an attic or a soffit near the blue square and you are seeing bees from that colony, not from yours.

The other thing you could do is move your bees out from between the houses and put them on one of the ends.

Good luck!

Enj.
 

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Bees are known to recognize geometric shapes. I would add some distinctive features as mentioned above: water fountain, large shrub, lattice, etc. You have options, just make sure it's in the "orientation" area.
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0147106


When moving colonies not far from their original spot, I use a white board to "ground" the orientations so the bees have that white board as a reference point. All I have to do is move the board with the hive and they find it very quickly with only a few bees investigating the "old" location.
Using principles noted above should solve the assumed issue.

This is a useful post:
https://honeybeesuite.com/runway-lights-for-honey-bees/
 

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Whats eventually happening to bees hovering at blue location ? Are they gone by night ? Does it mean they are finding right location after a while ?

It appears there is a tall (brownish leaf) tree and a shrub left side of both green and blue boxes. Can you remove the ones on your property ?
 

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I've read that some breeds of bees are better at orienting than others. I don't know enough on the subject to comment, but thought I'd post it so you could do some digging.
 

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It looks like you've got two similar trees on each side of your house. Are they both your trees? Can you remove one? It doesn't matter which tree but the one where you don't want them to go might be the first choice, either way they will orient. (I think trees right next to the house are a bad idea anyways.)
 

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The shrubs and trees look mostly the same too. YOU probably get lost sometimes. Any distinct marking where needed should work out well. Experiment by laying something on the roof of a different color. X marks the spot. You can tuck clips under the shingle edges somehow to keep it from falling off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
First of all thanks so much for all the information and ideas. I will be trying as many of them as I can to try and figure something out.

...maybe reverse the hive front and back so the flight path leads them in and out of the park area behind your house in the pic. All the best.
The hive entrance is actually already oriented to the east facing the park area. I dont have any idea why but the bees just dont fly down the area between the houses at all, instead exiting the hive and flying straight up and out over the rooftops. Similarly when they return they all drop down from above.

I am guessing its an HOA issue then?
Yeah its an HOA issue.

One other thing to think about: when your bees are very active so are all the other colonies in the area.
The other thing you could do is move your bees out from between the houses and put them on one of the ends.
Enj.
While that is possible I do not think its likely since I have not noticed any degree of bees in the area prior to installing the hive.

Whats eventually happening to bees hovering at blue location ? Are they gone by night ? Does it mean they are finding right location after a while ?
After about a minute of doing circles in the area they fly off again. They do not remain in the area at all they are only present when there is a lot of entry activity on the other side of the house at the hive. My best guess is that they eventually find the right location since it does not seem like the population of the hive is going down, but I do not know how well I can actually gauge that.

When moving colonies not far from their original spot, I use a white board to "ground" the orientations so the bees have that white board as a reference point. All I have to do is move the board with the hive and they find it very quickly with only a few bees investigating the "old" location.
Using principles noted above should solve the assumed issue.
The articles were super interesting, I am going to try putting out a white board in front of the hive immediately as that is something I already have available and can try right away. Someone else mentioned earlier I think that changes like that should be done at night? Do you think I should wait until night time to put out the board or just put it out right away?

It looks like you've got two similar trees on each side of your house. Are they both your trees? Can you remove one? It doesn't matter which tree but the one where you don't want them to go might be the first choice, either way they will orient. (I think trees right next to the house are a bad idea anyways.)
Due to the HOA removing trees is pretty much not an option. Totally agree on trees next to the house, cleaning the gutters out is always a pain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
maybe reverse the hive front and back so the flight path leads them in and out of the park area behind your house in the pic. All the best.
Hive is currently facing to the east. I am not sure why but the bees just dont fly down the space between the houses towards the park, every single one tends to come out and go straight up and then over the roofs.

Not sure what to say about lost bees, but Littleton allows beekeeping, so your neighbors can't prevent you from keepng bees.
City cant but the HOA can. Permission was granted contingent on continual approval from both neighbors.

One other thing to think about: when your bees are very active so are all the other colonies in the area. It's possible that there is a feral colony living in an attic or a soffit near the blue square and you are seeing bees from that colony, not from yours.
Enj.
Its possible but there hasnt been any signs of honeybees in the area prior to the installation of the hive.

When moving colonies not far from their original spot, I use a white board to "ground" the orientations so the bees have that white board as a reference point. All I have to do is move the board with the hive and they find it very quickly with only a few bees investigating the "old" location.
Both of those articles you linked were super interesting. I am going to try putting a white board out like that. Should I do it at night do you think and should I close up the hive for a day or two, it seems like closing the hive up is common if you are moving to a new location. I just wonder if it would be useful to try and make them reorient with the new landmark even though the hive isnt actually being moved anywhere.

Whats eventually happening to bees hovering at blue location ? Are they gone by night ? Does it mean they are finding right location after a while ?
It appears there is a tall (brownish leaf) tree and a shrub left side of both green and blue boxes. Can you remove the ones on your property ?
Eventually after they fly around for a bit they fly back up over the roof again. They dont linger in the area overnight at all that I have seen and the hive doesnt seem to be losing any bees. I dont know how well I can tell that though. Cant really do anything to change the trees in the area because of the HOA again.

Finally got my reply to work!
 

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Are they against putting the hives on the roof top? Maybe that is your answer. To have a clear
view for the bees to return to. You can also decorate your own trees with different land marks and
silk flowers for them to recognize the hive location too. Think of TP and Christmas ribbons and decoration.
Or put up 2 backyard poles with many different color ribbons hanging on a rope. If the bees are lost so if the
virgin queen on her mating flights.
 

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I think I would try painting the vent caps on the roof, no one would see it unless they went up there. Then you could maybe add one off color shingle tab on the roof edge over the hive. Would be an easy endeavor to see if that would be enough to break up the monotony of the roofs.
 

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It may take several trials to figure out what will work and where your visual "target" needs to be placed. Regarding the white board, I just used an old piece of MDF trim and leaned one end on the landing board and had the other rest on the ground. You can add horizontal stripes (think black for high contrast) for more impact. I no longer close up the bees but I have enough colonies that any stragglers will find their way into one.

I would make these adjustments step-by-step: use the white board if you wish, wait a few days. Add geometric shapes to the lids, wait a few days, add a distinctive structure by the hives, wait a few days. Essentially spreading the changes over a period of a time to gauge the impact. I kind of like the idea of adding a few white shingles or some such to the roof, I suspect several singular features may be needed. Keep us posted, this is a very interesting dilemma! And good luck.
 
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