Bee a Good Neighbour

In rural areas honeybees can happily roam for kilometres without encountering neighbours or other animals. Not so in the city. Unexpected close encounters and misunderstandings about honeybee behavior are a recipe for fear-based reactions and negative impressions about urban beekeeping. While public education can help alleviate some honeybee anxiety, it is the responsibility of beekeepers to ensure that their neighbours are comfortable with their bees and that they are keeping bees in a manor that minimizes unwanted encounters.

Speak to Your Neighbours Before Getting Bees

Most people are curious and open to the idea of a neighbour with honeybees, especially if a little honey sweetens the deal. However, serious allergies, children and pets may be cause for concern. Talk to your neighbours about what they can expect, answer their questions and, if possible, offer to take them to see a friend’s hives. If your neighbours are adamantly against having bees next door try to find a more suitable location for your hives.

Ensure Your Bees Have a Source of Water

Bees drinking water at Rouge Restaurant Calgary
Bees drinking water at Rouge Restaurant Calgary

Honeybees will search out convenient sources of water to drink and to help cool their hive. It is up to the beekeeper to ensure that this source is not their neighbour’s kiddie pool. Provide a fresh, consistent source of water near their hive. There should also be rocks or wood in the water for the bees to rest on.

Prevent Swarms

Though swarming is natural it can be a nuisance to neighbours and can be misinterpreted and sensationalized to the detriment of beekeeping. Close monitoring in spring is necessary to ensure that the bees do not feel cramped and that the queen has enough room to expand the brood nest. 

July Swarm
July Swarm

Beekeeping in an urban area can be an incredibly rewarding experience and often has advantages such as lower pesticide exposure and greater and more varied forage. Good beekeeping and good relationships with neighbours can ensure that beekeeping remains legal and that beekeepers are welcomed in urban environments.

3 Responses

  1. We’ve collected nine swarms so far this year. Today’s had been hoping for help for several days. There’ve been so many swarms this year many bee keepers are overwhelmed.

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