Start an Urban Beehive with These 8 Tips

We recently wrote and shared a blog post about understanding bees and the myriad of ways they are critical to our lives, economy and food system. Today, we’re sharing tips and advice from beekeeper Wayne Warren, for those who want to help repopulate bees in urban areas.  

8 Tips for Building an Urban Beehive  

  1. Research local beekeeping regulations and ordinances. First, make sure you can legally keep bees in your backyard. “In my county, there are no ordinances regulating bees,” Warren says. Your local county extension office should be able to help you research local beekeeping laws.   
  1. Buy gentle bees. Warren’s favorite are Buckfast bees, and he recommends them for budding beekeepers who want to start a new beehive.  “They are great bees to start off with, and they are good pollinators,” Warren says. It’s important not to disrupt your community. “Hostile bees  will cause problems with the neighbors and the law!”   
  1. Fully fence your backyard. Build your fence before you buy your bees. The fence should be made of wood, and it should stand approximately 8 feet tall. “The bees need to fly in over people’s heads,” Warren explains. “If the fences are low, the bees will bump into people and sting them.”   
  1. Start with two bee swarms. If something happens to one of the swarms, you can use the second swarm to raise new bees to replace the first. Warren recommends starting out small by ordering 3 to 5 pounds of bees; they should be mailed to you in a screened-in box. Then, you can begin your beehives.
  1. To save money, look for used beehives. Browse ads in local beekeeping-club newsletters and on Craigslist for people selling their used beehives. Warren uses beehives made of wood or Styrofoam. He prefers Styrofoam because it keeps the bees warm in winter and cool in summer. 
  1. Purchase safety clothing. And wear it! “Sometimes new beekeepers are a bit scared of the bees, and the bees can sense it,” Warren says. “I’m old school. I don’t wear anything now, but my bees are very gentle.”   
  1. Talk to your neighbors before you introduce bees to the area. Most people will be fine with you raising bees if they realize that there’s little risk of them being stung. And take a cue from Warren by offering them free honey from your beehive. It couldn’t hurt!
  1. Check your beehives regularly. Although raising bees doesn’t take a lot of work, performing regular checks helps ensure that your bees are healthy and working. “I open up the hives at least once a week to check that a queen is available and that the bees are laying eggs,” Warren says.   Are you ready to build your own urban beehive? If you are, share your creations with us and let us know how it goes!  

    Also, if you want to help bees thrive, try planting plants that attract them to help increase pollination. Check out our other blog posts for a variety of information on gardening and visit your local SummerWinds Nursery for products and gardening help!   

    About SummerWinds Nursery: SummerWinds Garden Centers is a leading high-end retailer of garden and nursery products. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, SummerWinds operates retail nurseries in the greater Phoenix, Arizona area, and in Silicon Valley, California, making it one of the largest independent retail nursery companies in the west. SummerWinds appeals to both the serious and casual gardeners, with a broad selection of premium gardening products and a friendly and knowledgeable staff. www.summerwindsnursery.com