Beehives can be located just about anywhere. They can be kept in a wide range of situations and will survive and flourish. You can keep them in the country or city, garden corner, by your backdoor, or even on your rooftop.
Bees can easily adapt to most situations but better neighbourly relations as well a larger honey harvest can be obtained if you follow the 3 important considerations discussed below:
- Local rules & regulations
- Access to food & water source
- Your neighbours
Local rules & regulations
Beekeeping in Australia is legislated by your local state or territory. Refer to your local state or territory Code of Conduct or Code of Practice which details the legislation applying to beekeepers and the location of beehives. Some examples of factors that may impact on beehives locations from the Victorian Apiary Code of Practice are:
- Hive numbers can be limited depending on land size - refer Schedule 1 from the Victorian Apiary Code of Practice as example.
- Hives must be located more than 3 meters from the boundary fence unless the there is a 2m high solid fence
Access to food & water source
Generally suburbia can provide excellent foraging opportunities for bees due to the diversity of plant types and year round supply of pollen and nectar. Alternatively if placing bees in forest areas with a single variety of nectar source it may mean you need to consider moving the bees or feeding them when the food source dries up.
You also need to ensure that your bees have a water source. A strong colony may use over a litre of water to cool the hive on a hot day.
Safety & Neighbourly relations
Beehives in residential backyards must be managed to ensure bees don't become a nuisance to neighbours. Before getting bees it is advised to talk to your neighbours and let them know you intend to keep bees. A regular gift of a jar of honey does work wonders for neighbourly relations!
Generally speaking keeping bees in suburbia should not cause problems for your neighbours if you follow some basic guidelines:
- Consider your neighbours when opening your hive for an inspection. This is when bees can get agitated and are more likely to sting so if your neighbours are hosting a bbq in their backyard a few meters from your hive, it may not be the best time to do a hive inspection.
- If you do have an angry hive, it is strongly suggested you look at re-queening to a more placid younger queen. The new queen introduces new (hopefully less aggressive) genes to her offspring.
- Bees have a flight path that you should consider. Make sure that you steer clear of footpaths as well as areas which have high activity. Screening, shadecloth, shrubs that are dense, as well as fences can be used to make bees fly in an upward direction.
- Lights at night appeal to bees and can attract them. Ensure that your hive entrance does not face bright lights or even house doorways because this may cause bees to investigate. Use a screen to block the light from getting to the hive.
- Lets face it, children and pets can be unpredictable. You should consider restricting access around your hive if you have young children or pets. You can restrict access by using a fence or placing the hive where children or pets cannot get to it. You can also consider use of signage to inform adults that you have a beehive.
Beehive placement isn’t an exact science. Bees are amazingly adaptable so while not every beehive location is perfect, as long as you’ve taken into consideration the above factors the bees will flourish in most situations.