June 17, 2021

Beekeeping Good Neighbor Golden Rules (026)

Beekeeping Good Neighbor Golden Rules  (026)

Let’s face it. Unless you live in an isolated part of the world, if you keep bees, you will need to eventually deal with encounters between your bees and your neighbors. Encounters don’t have to be negative. There are strategies you can use to...

Let’s face it. Unless you live in an isolated part of the world, if you keep bees, you will need to eventually deal with encounters between your bees and your neighbors. Encounters don’t have to be negative. There are strategies you can use to minimize ‘bad publicity’ and ‘hard feelings.’  Some beekeeping clubs have written down these strategies and developed rules, Golden Rules, for beekeepers to help guide them to keep friendly relations with their neighbors.

In this episode, our fearless hosts, Kim and Jim take up eight rules used by a UK beekeeping club and explore their experiences with neighbors, bees, and Golden Rules.


We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. BetterBee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, BetterBee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com


Honey Bee Obscura is brought to you by Growing Planet Media, LLC, the home of Beekeeping Today Podcast.

Music: Heart & Soul by Gyom, Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus, original guitar music by Jeffrey Ott

Copyright © 2021 by Growing Planet Media, LLC


Honey Bee Obscura


Episode 26 – Beekeeping Good Neighbor Golden Rules


[background music]

Jim Tew: Kim, I've come across a really neat list of golden rules for beekeepers.

Kim Flottum: Where did you find that?

Jim: They came to me by way of a local group in the UK. They've listed about eight things that it takes to be a good neighboring beekeeper.

Kim: Share the wealth, please.

Jim: To the best I can. Hi, I'm Jim Tew.

Kim: I'm Kim Flottum.

Jim: We're here on Honey Bee Obscura, where, today, we're going to discuss with you apparently eight things that it takes to make you a good beekeeper and a good beekeeper neighbor.

Kim: Yes, good. Let's hear them.

Introduction: You are listening to Honey Bee Obscura, brought to you by Growing Planet Media, the folks behind Beekeeping Today podcast. Each week on Honey Bee Obscura, hosts Kim Flottum and Jim Tew explore the complexities, the beauty, the fun and the challenges of managing honeybees in today's world in engaging and informative discussion meant for all beekeepers, long-timers and those just starting the journey with bees. Sit back and enjoy the next several minutes as Kim and Jim explore all things, honeybees.

Jim: Kim, how about if I go through and try to give you a summary of the eight and we see where it goes from that?

Number one, beekeepers, keep your bee yards and hives away from the public as much as you can.

Number two. Don't have your apiary too close to farm animals or pets.

Number three. Only keep docile bees and eliminate nasty bee colonies. Control robbing.

Number four. Only work bees in suitable weather, especially in urban areas.

Number five. Remove honey in a responsible manner, on clean good days and clean containers.

Number six. Use proper containers and follow legal labels for selling your product or for giving it away.

Number seven. Be an active member and a local association or organization.

Number eight. Always be a good neighbor.

Kim: That's a pretty good list. I can see there's a couple of them I'd really like to talk about. I especially like the one about being an active member in your local association. I've pulled back a little bit now, for good reasons, I'm getting old.

Jim: The way I feel…. Don’t say that.

Kim: In my day, I worked with local associations. I worked with state associations, regional, a little bit at the national level. I've watched how associations work in terms of… because they're all volunteer, there aren't any paid members, and how much of a difference a good volunteer can make in a local or any kind of association, somebody who's dedicated and really wants to be there really can make a difference.

Jim: Yes, Kim, you're being modest. You've really worked with some major organizations at the highest levels. I can tell you for a fact, you really depend on those spark plug beekeepers. They’re what drives the organizational engine. You see these people and you want to baby them and nurture them and protect them because they're what make things happen. If they get tired and burn out, then you got to go find another spark plug to drive that engine.

Kim: Or do it yourself.

Jim: Which is horrible.

Kim: I like the one about farm animals, too. That's something that we don't think about very much, but you also mentioned pets. Have you ever had any issues along those lines?

Jim: I haven't had an issue with pets, but I did when I worked for Ohio State. We had a bee yard that was near the horse program's pasture, or paddock, or field, and there were issues with us not being the best neighbors - or our bees not being the best neighbors - around those horses at some times. I never have gotten in trouble with pets though, but as I say that I’ve got a horror story for you and it comes to you in the chicken arena. I had a co-worker who had bees and he had a chicken coop nearby.

One day there was death and destruction amongst his chickens, where his own bees attacked his own caged chickens. Aside to Kim - Should we be having this conversation right now? I suppose, just be informed, that something went wrong and one day those bees had enough of those chickens. They were 25, 30 feet away.

Kim: That makes me just a little bit concerned because I got chickens and bees, too.

Jim: I understand. As well you should. You've got responsibility to two worlds, chickens and bees. (chuckles)

Kim: My chickens can get away, though. They can get inside.

Jim: My friend - and this is an old story - my friend really had his in a coop and they could not get away. At any rate, this Africanized bee thing. When it was all the rage, it was always tethered animals because - in the early days, I had to go find what “tether” was - but tethered animals were always the ones that were in big trouble. A cow, or a horse, or a dog you had tied to the dog house, those are always the ones that got in serious trouble when those Africanized bees, all those decades ago, were on the rampage. If the animals can get away, they certainly do it.

Kim: When I first moved here, not far from work, there was a dog kennel. The dogs, of course, were inside. They slept inside, but they had a door they could go outside into a pen, and that's where the food and water was. Somebody around there had bees. They weren't our bees, but belonged to another, but the bees found the dog water. The bees and the dogs couldn't get to the water at the same time. The guy who ran the kennel one day came knocking on my door at work and he said, "What can I do?”  I can see where having a dog dish full of water might be a problem, not that your bees are doing anything to the dogs, but the dogs can't get to the water or don't want to get to the water. I can see that you need to pay attention to that.

Jim: When you were talking, I was listening because we've done this for decades. You never know at all. In fact, sometimes what you knew, what you think you know wasn't even right, but we need to always be observant and never forget that our bees are our wide-rangers. They may base their operations in my beehive, in my backyard, but the community belongs to them as far as they're concerned.

The neighbor's swimming pools, the neighbor's bird watering devices, the neighbor's flowers, they're all fair game for my marauding bees. I should always remember that I need to be aware that maybe an animal can't get to the water dish, or the feedlot  cattle can have trouble getting to the watering trough if my bees are there jamming things up.

Kim: You brought up some good points. These eight golden rules, I think I'm going write them down.

Jim: Kim, let's take a break. Then we'll come back, and then I want to talk about a couple of these.

Kim: Okay.

Sponsor: Betterbee is pleased to sponsor today's episode of Honey Bee Obscura podcast. For over 40 years Betterbee has supplied beekeepers across the country with the tools, equipment and knowledge needed to succeed. Because many better be employees are beekeepers themselves, they understand your needs and challenges, and are better prepared to answer your beekeeping questions. From their colorful catalogs to their supportive beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast, Betterbee truly lives up to their tagline of beekeepers serving beekeepers. See for yourself at betterbee.com.

Jim: When it says, "To work bees in suitable weather," I'm not sure what that means. Does that mean that I should go out and work bees when it's raining because the neighbors aren't out, or do I go out and work bees on a sunny clear pretty day when all the neighbors are out barbecuing? What would you say working bees on a suitable day? What kind of golden rule is that?

Kim: You and I both know that suitable day gets broken down several ways. One of them is, next day I want to go out and check my bees because I just like being with my bees, and the other thing is, I got to get some supers on those colonies. The other one is, it's pouring rain and I want to get that honey off now. There's a whole gamut of things that you have to think about when it comes to suitable day. You may not be able to choose that suitable day.

Jim: I like the conciseness and the purity of the rule recommendation, but the reality of it is, you do what you have to do when you have time to do it, on the day that you can do it. If it happens to be a beautiful day, so be it. I've actually wondered, Kim, why don't we work bees more at night? Miserable to be out there, yes it is, but if I go out there during the day, my bees should be out foraging, making a honey crop, doing good pollination work, and I'm there with the hive torn all to pieces because it was convenient for me. Who should we cater this to, the convenience of the beekeeper or the convenience of the bees? I'm going to go with a beekeeper on that, Kim. I'm definitely going on with the beekeeper on that. (Light laughter)

Kim: I'm guessing that you've been out at night with a flashlight in a bee yard.

Jim: I have, and the bees tend to know exactly where you are. Kim, number three was, only have docile bees and eliminate nasty bees. You know what that says to me? That means that someone got lit up for the beekeeper to figure out these are nasty bees. You just don't walk up and look at a colony and say, "Oh, nasty bees. I'm going to do something about this." No. Those bees had already proven their point before the beekeeper had to decide to do something, and I've lived that. I picked up a swarm. I loved picking it up, maybe three years ago. Somebody else's bees moved into my box, free bees.

Later on, they came with a price. They were really rambunctious bees, and they stung my neighbor. I had to get rid of those bees, and so, I've lived that. The confusing thing is, how do you tell for sure which one the nasty colony is? If you've got 10 beehives there, and one of them is stinging everything in sight, how do you tell for sure which colony they're coming from? It took me about three or four days of experimenting, thinking, whatever, a little bit like, "Which of my teeth are really hurting me? I think I know which one, but I'm not sure."

Kim: Yes. Nasty bees in a bee yard, it can be an issue trying to isolate which hive it's from. Why are they nasty? Did they re-queen themselves? You just never know. You've got to do it. You've got to figure it out, and you've got to fix it because, otherwise, you and your neighbors, or even you and your family are going to have a hard time.

Jim: I suspect it was because this comes from England…the UK. A lot of these rules are directly related to living near other people. That really is a factor. Isn't it, Kim? Can you think of the unfortunate people, who never had any interest in bees, who didn't want to be a beekeeper, who didn't want to be in any way responsible for pollination, suddenly have bees in their life? Spouses, neighbors, relatives, co-workers, all those poor people who didn't want bees, but they suddenly have these things jammed on them. It seems that, in many cases, this is the list that directs you how to live with those people.

Kim: Yes. It's a good summation. I'm glad you brought it to my attention. Like I said, I think I'm going to write them down.

Jim: Let's make our own list sometimes. (Chuckling)

Kim: That's a good idea.

Jim: I'd like to do that. Let's you and me-- "Kim and Jim's list of golden rule beekeeping."

Number one, never re-queen. (Laughter)

Number two, never treat for varroa mites. (Laughter)

Number three, always under-super the hive. (Chuckles)

That'd be a great list, Kim. It'd be a great list. I'll talk to you later, buddy.

Kim: Let me know when you're done. Thanks. Take care.

Jim: All right. Bye-bye.

[00:13:25] [END OF AUDIO]