Beekeeping is a great way of getting something for nothing. It is farming with no land, or at least other peoples land and air space! You can keep bees in the suburbs and even in the centre of the city and they will make plenty of great honey. Bees are incredibly important for fertilising many edible crops. Their numbers are decreasing world wide due to pesticide use. Honey bees will help to fertilise all your fruit trees and edible crops and are incredibly important in a self sustaining ecosystem.
There is some expense with setting up. Costs include protective suits, smokers, and hives. Summer is a busy time when regular maintenance of the hive is required. There is a legal requirement in New Zealand for each hive to be registered with Asurequality. It costs $31 per year to keep a hive. Yearly disease checks are carried out. Request a hive registration form here.
The best way to find out whether beekeeping is for you is to contact your local beekeepers club and go along to one of their meetings. Queen bees can be bought from companies who specialise in the sale of colonies. Many companies specialise in strains of bees who are non-aggressive and suitable for urban areas.
A top-bar hive is different from the conventional bee hive. It is a low cost alternative and more natural way of keeping bees. The hive can be easily made by any handy person. The hive does not require such intensive human intervention but does produce more beeswax and less honey than a conventional hive.
Click here to learn how to build your own Top Bar Bee Hive.
In some large metropolitan areas around the world you can rent a bee hive. By paying a small monthly rental you are provided with a hive and an expert to attend to all maintenance. You, in return get delicious honey to share with family and friends.
One hive will produce around 15 kgs of honey a year. Sugar can be substituted with honey in baking. Hives need to be placed out of the wind, facing the morning sun and near to sources of nectar and pollen. It is recommended to have at least two hives so that hive function and health can be compared.
In urban areas you can place the hive on a flat shed roof to raise the bees flight path helping to avoid altercations with passersby. Here are some other ideas for keeping urban bees and happy neighbours.
Hiving my freshly caught swarm of bees into my Topbar hive.