Neighbor put hive in backyard

mom2bretApril 26, 2014


I'm not a beekeeper, and neither is my neighbor, but they decided to till up their whole backyard for a garden and put a beehive there. Which is all well and good, we have lots of bees around during the summer (Illinois) anyway. But they did it so they don't have to mow around it too. Well they have it sitting about 10 feet from my yard where we DO have to mow. I have been reading up on it and I hear mixed opinions of beehives and mowing. Any thoughts? How safe to mow that near a hive? Some say to wear a bee suit to be on the safe side but that's not an option. Also my 14 year old will be mowing for the first time this year, any advise on what to do if they do get cranky and come after him? I mean I would say run for the house, but, anything else?

Thanks in advance for any information!

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There are a few variables at play here! Hopefully I'm reading between the lines well enough to see a decent relationship between yourself and the neighbors. I'm also assuming some good intent on the part of your neighbors putting in the beehive in the first place. Your concerns are legitimate, and in comparison to some beekeepers experiences, pretty gentle.

I have typically six hives in the yard at home, about 30 feet from the house. These are up on stands about a foot off the ground, the stands themselves each have half a sheet of Hardi board under them so I don't have to cut grass under the stands. It also gives a better launch pad for bees on the ground than trying to fly off of a flimsy blade of grass.
Mowing or trimming with either the wheeled string trimmer, weed eater, push mower or the big walk-behind mower has never been an issue. (These are all gas machines) Mowing, even right in front of the hives doesn't get much of a reaction out of them. I will have some bump into me as I get in their way of their return to the hive, one might hitch hike for a few moments on the shirt, but apparently they get as bored with mowing as I do quickly, and go on about their way.

When a good nectar flow is 'in progress' the bees are just interested in getting their nectar and pollen back to the hive, or getting out of the hive to go get more. During the dearths between flows they will be more defensive of the hive, but that is relative.
Thus far, I've not had aggressive bees... at worst a hive might be 'grumbly' if they have issues with a queen either missing or failing, but thus far a replacement queen has kept them 'mild'. That's my experience with my bees, and it *may* be the experience of you and your neighbors. "May", is the operative word.

Some tips to pass on to the neighbors:
Site location -
The hive needs to be in a sunny spot facing anywhere from South to East, SE is good. If mid day temps are high, a bit of shade over the hive can be a good thing.
Many municipalities have some requirements or recommendations for locating a hive on the property. Commonly, 20 feet from the property and/or a screen between the hive and the boundary. The screen directs the bees flight path more vertical ... they launch and go UP or come over the hive a Drop down, but well above 'people' traffic. (FWIW, mine are placed in a wood framed 4' high cyclone fenced portion of what was a really, really large dog run. It isn't unattractive, let's light through and even though it is only 50 inches to the top of the frame the bees typically go up... and keep going up before heading out. They tend to avoid flying through the fencing, but will occassionally... very cautiously. :) )

Stand -
Getting the hive entrance up about a foot from the ground is good. Mine are very mellow bees, but they don't get pelted by the mower output either... and I direct the output away from the hive. No sense trying to irritate the little darlings?!

Things to do?
Talk to the neighbors about moving the hive further back from the border. Moving the hive a couple of feet every few days will soon have them relocated. If the hive is picked up and moved 10 or 15 feet in one move foragers will return to where the hive *was*. They are that locked to location. A move of a couple of feet is apparently close enough that they can find the front door again.
See if you and yours can be introduced to the hive. Beekeepers typically LOVE to share the passion. Learning more about bees and developing a comfort level being around bees goes hand in hand. I may be a little nuts, but I think bees 'get' that too. However it works, it seemingly does.

Oh. And once you've gone that far, it sounds like your side of the fence might be a good place for a hive too. If memory serves, I was about 13 or 14 when I had my first ones. :)

Best o Luck,


    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 1:13PM
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If that happened to me I would have two concerns: the type of bee (aren't some of them aggressive, the African ones?)
plus I would be concerned for the bee's well bee-ing because I will occasionally put down insecticide if I see a fire ant problem.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 1:23PM
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I am a former beekeeper of 65 hives. Hopefully the nice approach will work at getting the bees relocated to a more suitable place. As a former beekeeper I have no patience with what your neighbor has done. These people will be your neighbors long after this matter is settled. Try nice first and if that doesn't work take whatever legal recourse you can. Bees although rare can cause a persons death especially if they are allergic or just from to many stings. You never know if the bees have been bumped right before getting close to them. In some cases a large amount of worker bees will attack anything moving if recently disturbed. It is totally inappropriate putting them in your harms way.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 1:48PM
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One of my neighbors kept bees along the east side of our border (morning sun, afternoon shade for them) and aside from hearing the hives all afternoon they were not noticed.

In an enclosed back yard, they should not even notice that you are mowing on the other side of the fence.,

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 6:46PM
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I had bees in my backyard where I lived before. I had a fenced in backyard and there was a privacy fence between me and the neighbors closest to the bees. There were no problems. Maybe a few privacy fence panels would help you feel safer?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:52PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

As the daughter of a bee keeper (we had 300-400 hives depending) I hated it when he would bring home a few spares. As long as they stay friendly it is really not an issue. But, once an inexperienced person gets in over their head with bees, they are going to start swarming. And that is where the trouble starts, once they are in trees, walls etc it is hard to replace out mean queens with friendly ones.

I would try and nicely ask them to move the hive to face their home and away from the property lines. Maybe having the bees face them will help with the idea that bee keeping is not like having a bunch of lady bugs in your garden.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 11:09PM
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I keep honey bees too. Bee hives can be a problem if you get to close to their hive. Its natures way for them to protect their home. What you have to do is protect yourself from bee stings when you get to close to their hive. Make sure you have a veil on when you cut the grass. Its bad getting stung in the face. Not all hives are defensive. I would never put my hives around a neighborhood with a lot of people. Bee hives belong out in the country. I love my bees but I respect other people feeling about them. A lot of people Don t like bees.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 9:09PM
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A good friend of mine has two bee hives and as a favor I mowed his property for him one summer. I was on a large zero turn mower and would mow within a foot of the hives and never had one problem. So if there is any distance at all I would not be concerned. Of course if you are allergic then you should speak with him.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 8:33PM
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Just because one is not currently allergic to bees, does not mean they will always be.

My allergy developed because of being stung multiple times when I was a young teen and stepped in a wasp nest. I was hospitalized just over night that time, and warned that in the future, I might develop an allergy... which I did, and each sting over the years that allergy might get worse ... which it has.

I'm sixty five years old now and this is one complication in life I really wish I could have avoided. A sting is life threatening now, time consuming with days lost to being sick, and expensive. Prevention really is worth the effort and consideration. It's all going to depend on how each persons immune system reacts.

I'm still on this side of the grass though, so all's good. :)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 9:05PM
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Whoa, they know nothing about bees but have a hive? And no fence and/or so close to your yard? I realize this post is a few months old; how have things worked out?

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 3:09PM
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