Beekeeping in the ‘Burbs

With honeybee populations dropping all over the world, the impact is startling. Some busy beekeepers have taken to rooftops and backyards to help grow the population. They’re not just doing it for the bees, though. Hobbyists find numerous sweet rewards in suburban beekeeping. 


What The Buzz is About

All over, numbers of honey bees are dwindling. According to Greenpeace, the numbers of commercial honey bees in the United States have tumbled 40% since 2006. As shocking as that decline is, the repercussions are far worse. Pesticides are wiping out the population that has contributed to more than sweet honey production. Key to the agriculture industry, bees pollinate crops. A third of the food that we eat depends on pollinating insects.

This urgent situation has contributed to the rise of urban and suburban beekeeping. Saving the world food supply one hive at a time, keepers add to the population and contribute to local ecosystems. By giving these colonies a home, beekeepers get plenty in return. Bees produce wax and honey, which both have multiple uses. Some beekeepers save the honey for themselves while others sell their raw honey and wax. By selling a bee-byproduct, contributions to local economies make more than financial impacts. Beekeeping and bee saving awareness is spread to increase the urgency of saving the diminishing populations.


To-Beekeep? Or Not To-Beekeep?

So how can you begin your beekeeping journey? Luckily, bees are fairly self-sufficient and need very little pampering. As states, they are independent and need very little to sustain once established. Anita Deeley of Beverly Bees breaks down the basics of beekeeping and what you need to start. Here she explains the parts of the hive, how to assemble a pre-made hive, and how to add bees. You can build a hive and wait for tenants to show up or you can speed the process. You can purchase bees online from multiple suppliers. The Farmers Almanac has a great guide on Beekeeping 101 and how to get bees into your hive once built. It is also a great resource to learn more about terminology, characteristics of the hive, and hierarchy. Knowing the difference between a swarm and nucleus will help you quickly navigate your new world of beekeeping.


Bee-hold Your New Role

Once you’ve established your hive and settled your bees, watch how they behave. says that much like humans, bees are in better moods when the weather is nice. When going in to handle the bees or disturb the hive for any reason, pick a pleasant weather day. The defensiveness of your colony is lowered when they aren’t combatting harsh conditions. If it is nice out, there’s a good chance they’re all out for the day collecting pollen. You will lower your risk of getting stung by learning more about their nature and activities. Keeping Backyard Bees has a great article on the Top 7 Reason You Have Cranky Bees. Learning what signs to watch out for will keep you and your hive happy.


Take the Sting Out of Cohabitation

Interested in suburban beekeeping but worried about how it will affect your surrounding neighbors? Eric Hanan, a founder of Bee Bold Apiaries says that “Honeybees are not interested in us. It’s pretty safe if you respect nature and how it works.” So long as you keep a happy and healthy hive, your bees shouldn’t pose a problem to others. Always consult your state laws and legislation as to if you are legally allowed to keep bees on your property. Most states do not have explicit laws surrounding suburban beekeeping, but it is better to check first.


Easy to begin, fun to learn, and impactful for generations to come, beekeeping is a rewarding adventure.By helping maintain and increase the bee population, you are helping save the Earth’s food supply. And the free honey isn’t a terrible perk either!


PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

Aberlin SpringsBeekeeping in the ‘Burbs