Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
This question comes from a call from an incensed neighbor this evening. She called wanting to know if I had been working on my bees today (No). She told me to move them as she wasn't going to be held captive this summer. The call came from her seeing bees in her backyard today. So I guess I'm asking for advice too.
John, this is a tricky subject... working with neighbors. As much as we love our bees, we still have to keep in mind the ones around us. Sounds like your neighbor has had issues in the past with your bees or with bees that she assumes came from your yard.
-I don't know how your backyard is configured. You can possibly move your hive to make sure that the hive entrance isn't pointed towards her yard to minimize direct bee traffic or put a screen in front of your hive to force the bees to fly upwards. You can also try moving your hive to a side of your yard that does not adjoin her property or is hidden from her view.
-It might also be worth assessing the temperament of your bees. Are they aggressive? Do they immediately buzz your face when you open the hive? Do they remain aggressive for a time after you check the hive? Are they stinging your neighbors, etc? Are they stinging you unprovoked? Do they run and scatter as soon as you open the hive? You might need to requeen for a gentler disposition.
-I don't know your neighbors temperament. Is she willing to work with you to find a good solution or are you going to have a fight on your hands? There are many wonderful gardeners out there, probably close to your neighborhood that would be happy to keep your bees on their land and give you access. I own a number of hives and keep only 2 in my backyard. The rest are at farms and gardeners homes around downtown.
-Right now there are no laws or regulations for keeping bees in Albuquerque. Let's keep it that way by working with neighbors and the community!
Thank you for your reply Jessie! I don't want to cause conflict, and I'm planning on moving the hive closest to her farther down the hill. I have just the two hives as well, and they haven't been particularly aggressive towards me, so I'm not sure what is going on. I'm afraid the issue is already at the screaming match state, the call started out that way this evening. The hive that may be causing the problem is one I collected at midsummer and when I got them I thought they seemed quite calm.
I didn't see any activity to day, but was at work. Tomorrow I will move and watch them, hoping that will take care of it. How close can I move my two hives together?
Hi John, you can move the hives right next to each other. Just make sure there is something that distinguishes the entranceways so the bees don't confuse their homes. You can point the 2nd hive in a new direction or paint the entrance a different color or put a big rock or stick in front of one of the entrances.
- A great time to move the hive is during the night so you know all the bees are home. Just take care not to jostle the hive too much in this cold weather and risk breaking the winter cluster of bees. Here is a good link on Chantal's website: http://mistressbeek.com/2010/06/08/need-to-move-your-bee-hive-heres...
Best of Luck!
Thank you again Jessie! The move is complete, and maybe that will placate my crazy neighbor. I hope she understands I can't keep them completely out of her yard!
Hey John, how did your move turn out?
Our bees have been out on warm days the last month or so, exploring far and wide near ground level plus getting caught up in our movements and unusually interested in our doings and stuff. That might feel aggressive to some folks. It may also be that some new brood has already been emerging (?!) as new fliers seem to dancing around getting their bearings at the entrance. I'm still able to walk around and water past and through the 'swarm' without hassle. It all seems a bit early, and in our neighbourhood plus with the drought, quite fraught in prospect.