Saturday, October 24, 2009

Honey Bees as Good Neighbors

Many beekeepers seem to love their bees; however, not too many people other than beekeepers like to have large numbers of bees close at hand. Some people fear honey bees as well as other stinging insects. A small number of people have allergic reactions to the venom of bee stings and need to avoid contact with bees. For these reasons, it is important that beekeepers maintain a safe environment for humans, pets, and livestock near the bee yard. Most beekeeping associations train new beekeepers on techniques for lessening problems associated with maintaining harmony between beekeepers and their neighbors. These good neighbor practices are particularly suited for honey bees kept in urban settings. Many managed colonies of honey bees are kept in hives in backyards of major cities as well as surburban settings.

The beekeeper's first consideration is placing bee hives so that the flying bees will not regularly encounter people. A fence or evergreen hedge near the entrance to the bee hive will force the bees to fly over the obstacle, and this keeps the bees flying above the heads of neighbors. A hive hidden from view of the street is less likely to be vandalized as well. Backyard beekeepers should watch the behavior of the bees and remove the drones and replace the queen of any highly defensive colony. In areas with Africanized Honey Bee genes, bees should be kept in more isolated bee yards. Providing a source of water for the bees helps keep them out of the neighbor's swimming pool. Bees love the flavored water of swimming pools. Most beekeepers share honey with their neighbors. Today, while working my bees that pollinate the beautiful Memphis Botanic Garden, I noticed a wedding was in progress nearby in the Japanese Garden. My beees, located in the Urban Orchard, are visited regularly by the public. A juniper hedge keeps the bees aloft.

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