One of the questions most of new beekeepers ask especially in urban areas ask is how much space is needed for a beehive. When it comes to beekeeping you can keep bees in all places from countrysides to urban back yards or even balconies. So you do not have to have a spacious backyard close to countryside, it is just fine if you have a small yard with few plants or flowers in it and bees will find enough food (nectar and pollen) in your area.
Here are several things you need to know before starting turning your backyard into bee heaven.
About the space hives require
First, you should know about the standard size of the Longstrot hive is 19 7/8″ in length, 16 1/4″ wide and 9 5/8″ in height. Longstroth is common and standardized in US and also easier to place and set up in your back yard comparing to other hive types. So hives are relatively small and do not take to much space but you have to take into account that bees need space to fly in, out and around the hive. Average space around a hive should be 7 feet that provide enough space for bees to live and work unobstructed. Most likely you will start with 2 hives (do not recommend more) that should be enough, so this is the basic space you need.
Check Local laws
Before you start planning how to start your new hobby Check if the zoning regulations permit keeping bees in residential areas. In some cities, you just need to register and you get permission but in some cities, you are not allowed to keep bees at all.
The easiest way is to find out is to contact a local Beekeepers Association and check with them. It is also good to make contact with the association because they can give you a lot of good advice and help you become a beekeeper.
Some places may require registration or a license. And other cities ban beekeeping outright. Also, check with your family if they are ok with backyard beekeeping idea
Bees need a water supply so pay additional attention to provide it in your yard. When it comes to bees they rely on scent to find water and they are attracted to water that has an earthy smell and aquatic plants. Freshwater is not that appealing to them. If you do not provide water supply, bees will look for it in the neighborhood, especially in neighbors swimming pools because of chlorine smell, dog water bowls, birdbaths.
The easiest way to make a water station is to take a bucket or bowl fill it with water.Put wine corks or wooden sticks that floats to provide a landing place for the bees and you are set. Also you can take a shallow bowl to fill it with different sizes of pebbles and fill it halfway up to keep some of the stones above the water for bees to land and access the water safely.
A fence is a good way to redirect bees flight above humans and also protects the hive from the wind. Bees are flying in and out of the hive in a straight line so it is important to make them fly higher to avoid collision with people walking nearby. Also face the hive entrance opposite to a walkway. A six-foot fence will make bees to change their flight pattern and your neighbors will be grateful for sure. You can position the fence even just a few feet away from the hive.
Also, neighbors will feel safer if they are not looking directly at a hive that has a lot of bees flying in and out.
The crucial thing you have to do is to set up your apiary properly. Depending on your backyard size you can put multiple hives but my advice is to start with one or maximum 2 hives. The benefit of having 2 hives is that you can compare the progress by comparison. And when you get better at it you can always add more , of course, if you have enough space.
If you are able to provide shade for the hive preferably in the afternoon it will be very helpful for the bees during summer.
It sounds hard to set meet all the criteria – requests but try to meet as much as you are able to.
You should raise the hives off the ground. Bricks or cement blocks will do the trick just make sure it is level. This way hives are more accessible to work with, also you are protecting the hive from the water that can collect under the hive and destroy it.
Keep your neighbors happy
The best way to keep your neighbors happy is with honey. And try to answer their questions and accommodate their concerns. Also make sure your bees have a water supply so they don’t end up in your neighbor’s pool or dog/cat water bowl.
Will bees have enough food in an urban area?
When you live in urban areas it seems like there is not enough flowers and plants for the bees to collect nectar. When it comes to bees are very resourceful insects and they are able to fly up to 5 miles to collect pollen or nectar. So imagine how many gardens or balconies with flowers, trees and other plants are in that area and it is all a great source of food for bees.
So unless you are living in Sahara or on North pole no worries bees will have plenty of food.