A beehive in your garden

Beekeeper opening a hive

Bees are endangered, especially because the massive use of pesticides. One thing you can do to protect them is to set up a bee hive in your garden.

Here’s a quick review of current legal requirements to set a hive up, and what the best practices are.

Current legal set up regarding beehives

You are allowed to have a beehive in your garden as long as you meet the current legal requirements related to the minimum or buffer distance between the hive, neighboring houses, public walkways and public buildings. This is always defined and voted at the local government level, or by the municipality itself. Special cases are if your hive is encased by a wall, hedge, or solid fence at least 6½ feet (2 meters) tall running around at the same distance around the hive. Check with your local town hall for the zoning issues.

If your production is only for family consumption, usually all you have to do is register your hive with a local risk management bureau. However, if you plan to sell your honey, you’ll need to process the papers to register as a formal business. All owners of hives must register the hive yearly, renewing it and always providing a floor plan of where the hive is located. This is sometimes possible over the internet.

Learn how to make honey thanks to training hives

Hives at the side of a gardenApart from the legal requirements, setting up a hive must also match the needs and habits of honeybees. A worker bee usually forages at distances not further than half a mile (about one kilometer), so better have plants, shrubs and flowers ready to serve nectar and pollen nearby.

The space itself – usually 5 sq. yards (5 sq. meters) are enough for one hive – must be sheltered from wind and moisture while basking in the sun, especially in the morning. South-East exposure is recommended.

To start, ask other beekeepers in your area if internships, trainings or similar opportunities are organized that will help you learn the trade and tricks: care, hive management, feeding, harvest.

Sometimes dedicated “training hives” teach how to care for a hive naturally, which is easier because there are less interventions. At the end of winter or at the beginning of spring, you can usually purchase a hive with its colony (counting from 7,000 to 40,000 individual bees).

The hive is moved at night. There are also any number of specialized stores on the Internet that help you find the appropriate equipment: entire hives, frames, smokers, protective clothing…

Fabienne Lisse

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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Opening up a hive by Matthew Greger under Pixabay license
Hives in a garden by efPercy05 under Pixabay license
Close-up of a hive (also on social media) by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work