Siting an apiary – safety

Honey bees are fascinating insects that have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to be highly effective pollinators. They are known for the delicious honey that they produce but there is so much more to the craft of beekeeping, which makes this a wonderful hobby. Unfortunately, not everyone shares our interest and occasionally trouble can result if we are not careful about where we site our hives.

Historically, two unfortunate incidents are known to have occurred involving Hampshire beekeepers. One involved bees from a beekeeper’s ‘out apiary’ (an apiary situated away from home) repeatedly swarming into a neighbouring garden. The beekeeper was not local or known to those living in the area.

Another incident sadly involved the death of a dog. A neighbour’s dog had gained entry to the beekeeper’s garden, which was on a small estate, where the hives were kept. The bees reacted in a predictable manner.

By following BBKA guidelines both these incidents could have been avoided. The former by the beekeeper leaving a contact number somewhere prominently at the apiary ; the second by following the guidelines in the excellent BBKA leaflet Bees, Neighbours & Siting an Apiary.

Beekeepers have the right to keep bees and their neighbours have the right to enjoy their property in peace. Badly kept and positioned colonies can be a nuisance. It is a beekeeper’s responsibility to avoid their bees becoming a nuisance and to take appropriate steps quickly when their bees cause trouble or anxiety, or have the potential to do so.

Many beekeepers are tempted to set up an apiary in the convenient location of their own garden so that they can watch their bees at work and look after them easily; however small gardens, especially gardens that are surrounded by houses, are unlikely to be appreciated by neighbours. With careful management a small garden in open countryside or a garden at least the size of a tennis court could provide a suitable site for two or three hives.

If you are new to beekeeping or are moving bees to a new site, please download and read the BBKA leaflet “Bees, Neighbours & Siting an Apiary” to ensure you manage both your bees and your neighbours satisfactorily for all concerned!

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