RENEGRADE BEEKEEPERS TREND IN ORANGE COUNTY CALIFORNIA MAY HAVE TRAGIC RESULTS!
Beekeeping has a long history in Orange County and bringing it commercial bee hives to help out the feral bees pollinate the citrus tree and other crops was common place years ago. But with all the development Orange County has gone through and the subsequent reduction of agricultural acreage over the years it’s getting harder to find safe places to keep bees. Let’s face the fact that some people are extremely allergic to bees and those people usually don’t know it until they get stung. So how do we protect people and save bees? Bee keeping in most of Orange County’s cities is illegal for public safety reasons. But commercial bee colonies have been popping up all over the county and more and more people are placing bee hives in their backyards. Officials in Lake Forest found hundreds of hives placed in city parks and on some commercial properties. Some were owned by the David Mader, the President of the Orange County Beekeepers Association. He has been called to remove hives in Lake Forest, Costa Mesa, La Habra and other cities in Orange County. He says,” Beekeepers don’t have many places to go, so they become squatters on parks and commercial properties throughout the county”.
Another 100 hives, owned by Redlands beekeeper Brian Bouye, were placed on private land without the owner’s permission; others were found at the Regency/ Normandale Park. All with Bouye name on the hives boxes. The spokesman for the Pacific Cmmercentre Owners Assn. said he has had problem with Buoye setting up hives at the 230 acre property before and keeps chasing him off the property. Kathy Graham, Lake Forest community Development director, has confronted these squatters before and informed them to move the hives or the city will hire an apiarist to do so and bill them for the cost. She said that they are not getting permission first, but added that if they asked they would be told no because they are too close to homes. She said,” the bees pose a potentially deadly threat to nearby residents, that some people are extremely allergic to bees and one sting could be fatal”.
The fact is we need bees to pollinate. I once read a university study that came to the conclusion that without bees, at least 50% of the world food production would be lost. So what do we do, how do we balance the need for bees and public safety? Wheelers Pest Control provides a bee control service in Orange County. When we get calls about a bee problem we first try to figure out a way to save that swarm or hive. If it is a public safety problem, a bee exterminator is sent out to handle the problem.
I am currently working on a blog that will discuss a plan I am thinking about that would address this problem of saving and growing the bee population against the need to protect the public. Any comments or ideas you have would be appreciated. You can add them to the bottom of this blog in the section provided or go to our Facebook page and add some comments. Or you could e-mail me directly at email@example.com. I will reply to any comments ASAP.
Who can guarantee that a backyard apiary won't make contact with an allergic child living next door? Will hobbyist beekeepers be required to carry liability insurance?
Common sense suggests limiting beekeeping to agricultural and rural areas.
common-sense protections for neighbors
Despite appearing to be an impossibility on first observation, it is quite possible to keep bees in residential or even heavily residential areas. Though it is not necessarily the easiest or most successful method of beekeeping, residential beekeeping is by no means an unfeasible act. It is often possible to keep bees in the most crowded suburban areas, within small residential lots or even on the rooftops of mid sized buildings. If enough effort is made, it is usually possible to keep bees in some capacity within an urban environment. For the most success, beekeepers of this ilk must adapt and manage in such a way as to cause the least amount inconvenience for both their bees and their neighbors.
Because of the factors affecting residential beekeepers, they will almost always act as a hobbyist beekeeper, or in some areas rent a hive from a local commercial beekeper. Due to limited amount of space and resources, it is recommended that residential beekeepers start small with just two or three hives, and only expand once a proper feel for the local area has been achieved. However, some residential beekeepers also have other apiaries, in which they can create a small sideline business, but rarely do they go the commercial route.
Before keeping bees in a residential area, be sure to know local laws, requirements and regulations. Some areas don’t allow beekeeping and other areas require a permit to be purchased. If you are on good terms with your neighbors and wish to remain as such, it may be a good idea to speak with them before committing yourself to keeping bees in a populated area.
1 Hive Placement Factors
1.1 Out of Sight, Out of Mind
1.2 Flight Pattern
1.3 Hive Location
3 Working The Colony
3.1 Be Aware of Nectar Flows
3.2 When to Open the Hive
3.3 Expect Observers
3.4 Avoid Robbing
3.5 Avoid Gloves
Hive Placement Factors When working the urban environment with bees, particular attention must be taken to properly place the hive to eliminate or increase certain behaviors and actions of the bees.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind Chances are, a new residential beekeeper’s neighbors will not be as excited about bees as the new neighborhood beekeeper. Keeping this in mind, it is often a good idea to keep any hives out of direct line of sight, or disguise hives that are out in the open. Sometimes all it takes is moving a hive from a front or peripheral yard into the backyard. Keeping hives out of sight may eliminate blame for any sort of insect stings, and in the extreme case vandalism. Most people will not even realize that a neighbor keeps bees if a hive is well placed, which may divert a great deal of stress and controversy. This is not to say that neighbors shouldn’t be allowed to know about beekeepers in the area, but often they must first be appeased and educated before they would be agreeable to this new possibly threatening circumstance.
Flight Pattern In general, bees exiting the hive to gather food will fly between three to ten feet from the ground. Having bees fly in people’s path will likely cause a great deal of unnecessary alarm. Planting tall plants or placing a fence a few feet in front of your hives will force the bees to choose a flight pattern that will take them above head level. Some beekeepers may even choose to locate their hives on a rooftop to eliminate conflicting paths.
Hive Location Preferably, colonies of bees should be kept in a location in which they receive a full day’s sunlight. Shaded and cold bees tend to be more aggressive and ready to sting. Though it may not always be possible, the main hive entrance should be pointed to the southeast to get the best of the early morning sun. A placement of hives near neighbor’s yards is unadviseable, especially if the neighbors have young children who play outdoors. It is also advised that bees be kept away from swimming pools, as they may attempt to make it their primary water source.
Resources One of the most important issues of beekeeping is having the proper resources for the bees.
Foraging During most times of the foraging season, bees will be able to find adequate supplies of nectar and pollen for survival. Keep in mind that most bees choose to forage within a two-mile radius but ten is not unheard of. A two mile radius means that the bees will cover over 8,000 acres of land. Within this land, even in residential areas, many people have gardens, fruit trees and decorative gardens. So foraging may be no problem whatsoever to residential beekeepers.
Supplementing Occasionally, it may be necessary to supplement the diets of residential bees. But the same guidelines may be followed as with any other form of beekeeping.
Water Depending on location, water may be a scarcity to the bees of a residential beekeeper. Bees require water to regulate hive temperature and for diluting honey for feeding. Water is often collected from the nearest source, though bees seem to prefer shallow pools of warmer standing water. Because of this, it is advisable to supply bees with a source of water so they do not attempt to drink from neighboring pools or birdbaths. Keep in mind that during the hotter parts of the year in some regions of the US, a single healthy colony of bees may use up to a gallon or more of water a day. Some beekeepers have a faucet slowly dripping over a shallow dish or plate. Once bees start using a specific water source, it may be difficult to prevent them from returning. It is often best to provide a non-diminishing supply of water near the hive before the bees begin flying.
Working The Colony Whenever a beehive is opened or in some way disturbed, a potentially dangerous reaction may occur. To diminish the possibility of negative action, it is advisable to follow a set of guidelines when working the hive.
Be Aware of Nectar Flows A nectar flow may be the best possible time in which to work a colony. During a good flow, many of the workers will be out of the hive foraging. This diminished population offers the best time to examine the colony. Be aware of the nectar flows in your area, though this may not be possible without good observations for several years. During a time of nectar dearth, bees may be more defensive and more populous in the hive.
When to Open the Hive Weather and time of day hold a large influence over the temperament of a colony of bees. Opening a hive during non-peak condition, such as early morning, a rainy or windy day, or during cold weather should be avoided whenever possible. To minimize the likelihood of problems, hives should only be worked on ideal warm sunny days. This however, is also the time of day when neighbors tend to be out and about. When possible only work the hive when no one else is around the immediate vicinity.
Expect Observers When working a hive, neighbors, especially children, may become interested in what you are doing. If you don’t mind an audience, be sure to have some extra protective gear on hand so some of your spectators may get a closer look or even help out. If you don’t have any protective gear to share be sure that spectators stay a reasonable distance away so they won’t chance getting harmed. Now would also be a good time to casually educate those around you in the art and science of beekeeping. A beekeeper, can often use a good assistant, some one who repeatedly chooses to watch may be just that person. It may even be a good idea to invite friends and neighbors to learn and enjoy your hobby. Just be prepared to answer many questions.
Avoid Robbing Honey, nectar or hive parts exposed, or even leaving a colony open for a few minutes may encourage a robbing situation, which will likely lead to many defensive, ready-to-sting bees flying around. Always seal hives and cover attractive hive parts as soon as possible when working to avoid this situation.
Avoid Gloves Wearing gloves while beekeeping can be a bad idea. Stings on hands are easily removed and the resulting pain quickly subsides. Generally stings on gloves are not felt, but alarm pheromones are released each time and will cause other bees in the hive to attack. Often this will build and the beekeeper will ignore a cycle that the residential beekeeper should avoid. Wearing gloves may cause the beekeeper to miss one of the best identifiers of colony mood. Working barehanded, a beekeeper is less clumsy and will be less likely to allow the bees to get out of control.
When keeping bees in residential areas it is important to keep gentle bees. Select a race of bees that is known to act non-aggressively. If a colony becomes temperamental, don’t hesitate to re-queen it.
Consider Your Neighbors
It is best to keep your neighbors happy, though you may be within your legal right to keep bees on your property, an angry neighbor can cause severe problems for a beekeeper. For more information on this subject, see the Gaining Support of Friends and Neighbors module.
Even though a swarm of bees is often no threat, neighbors will not perceive it as such.
Join Hobbyist Associations
Often a residential beekeeper does not have the room or the need for some seasonal beekeeping equipment, by joining an association it may be possible to share such equipment an thereby eliminate some cost. If such an association is not available consider paying a small fee to a beekeeper with the proper equipment for rental or usage.
Because a residential beekeeper often has differing requirements, you may want to consider alternate hive designs such as a top bar hive, which are known to be easier to work, cheap, and to encourage gentler bees.