Next on your list for starting beekeepers is to sit down and make a plan… or go walk around or whatever. I find it’s helpful to do a little of both. What is it you want to accomplish? Where are you going to put your bees? How many hives do you need? Can you have bees in the first place? Are just a few of the things you’ll want to consider.
Let’s consider a few; first can you have bees in your area? There is the old adage “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission” – maybe that works some times, but due diligence can save you time, money, and sometimes friends/neighbors. If you have HOA covenants it’s most likely you can’t have bees – but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Then give your city offices a call and see if there are any restrictions. You’ll get some funny looks and a few ‘What!? Why would you want to keep bees?”, but wade through them and get your answers. When you call the city you’re looking for someone that can tell you about animals allowed in the city. Personally I just ask to see the town ordinances concerning animals, pets, or livestock you can keep. Most of the time the livestock part will throw them off – you just get the ordinances and 90% of the time you won’t see anything in there about honey bees. Then it’s your call – do you ask them specifically about it or put in your hive and see what happens after that?
Either way, it’s a good idea to let your neighbors know – tell them what you’re going to do – and it doesn’t hurt to get them a nice 1 pound jar of honey as a gift – talk about how much they love honey and how few bees you see around to pollinate, then if you’re willing tell them that maybe you’ll be able to share some of your honey if you have a bumper crop. They’ll get the added benefit of bee pollination as well. There are some great tips you can share with them to help them keep calm and understand what you’re trying to do – I’ll try and cover them in an separate article.
Something else to consider is where you’ll be putting the hive(s) – if you have neighbors put them next to a tall fence – then the bees will fly horizontal to the height of the fence across your neighbors yard. If your neighbor has a pool bees will visit – so make sure you have a good water source close by to help deter them from using your neighbors pool or water feature as their local watering hole.
Give yourself some time to think about what you’d like to do with your bees. Are they just for pollination? Then the work is greatly reduced – you want honey (why wouldn’t you?) then will one be enough? For my family we’ve almost totally moved away from table sugar – we use it on our cereal, in our cookies and breads, and we hope to use it for more. We run out of our own honey so we buy some from another local grower to supplement.
What are you going to do with your honey?