When we chose our apartment in a densely packed neighborhood of row houses, we had no idea that our neighbors were keeping multiple hives of honeybees. After two years of living there, we’ve learned a lot about bees, honey, and safety, and if everyone involved is focused on honesty and safety, we can reassure the most nervous residents that having bees next door is alright.
Meeting the Beekeeper
When we met our neighbors, they were very upfront about the bees. Take note if you want to keep bees: be honest. They asked if we had allergies, and let us know to call them if we ever have a problem. Just knowing the beekeeper and knowing that they cared about their neighbors as much as their bees was a great start! If you don’t already know the beekeeper, stop by and say hello. Most are very friendly toward the curious, and you can put some of your fears to rest.
Bees are Necessary
Ask anyone who has ever had to hand pollinate their summer squash plants: if you don’t have bees, you don’t have successful gardens. In fact, it was the lack of pollinators in the community garden that prompted our neighbor to keep bees in the first place. Having bees in the neighborhood has completely changed that. Now the garden is plentiful.
What to Expect
Our neighborhood hives are about ten feet off the ground, only about 15 feet from three of our windows. Our old windows barely seal, and we get about 1-2 bees in the house per month in the spring and fall. The cool weather sometimes confuses the bees and they head toward the lit windows for warmth at night, and it isn’t uncommon to find one or two on the outside of the window on a cool morning.
Honeybees aren’t very aggressive, and to date, neither of us has ever been stung by them, in spite of them flying over our heads all day in the warmer months. Unlike yellow jackets and other wasps, the bees leave us alone when we are eating as well. They aren’t a problem with sweet drinks or food at all. You can expect them to take water from a leaky hose or air conditioner drip however. Still, they aren’t a problem even when we have little kids over.
In general, bees are great neighbors. They help you with your gardening and don’t make a big impact on your life. Make sure that you know your beekeeper and that they know if you have any issues, and you can expect lots of vegetables and maybe even a bit of honey in the summers to come.
Burgh Bees: FAQ