I was finally able to set up a meeting with the property owner with the two abandoned beehives in his backyard in early December. I wasn’t able to go, but my beekeeping partner kept the appointment. This is what she found:
- I had suspected that a certain beekeeper in the area had been the one who abandoned the hives, and surprise, surprise, I was right.
- The bees had survived last winter without any winter preparations.
- The hives had swarmed three times last spring.
We will see if the bees survive the winter as it has been a cold one, but frankly, I am not willing to take these 2 hives on as the homeowner is a 30-minute drive away. If we lived in the country, I don’t think I’d mind a 30-minute drive on less-traveled streets, but I don’t like driving and hauling equipment through an urban area. I was hoping he would let us manage the bees in our backyard.
But he wants to keep these hives on his property which is understandable.
Well, I spoke with the homeowner of the yard with the abandoned beehives. If you will recall from my last post, the beekeeper basically stopped checking in on the beehives she placed in his yard FOR THE LAST YEAR. I had tried to find a good day, weather-wise for the bees, to visit the hives. Unfortunately, we are supposed to have showers/rain the next couple of days which would not be good for opening the hive.
I did ask the homeowner some questions:
- Were the hives treated with any chemicals?
- What’s the temperament of the bees?
- Do the bees have any known pests or diseases?
He wasn’t sure about questions 1 and 3, but he thought no to both questions. As we spoke on the phone, he kept telling me when bees entered the hive. As for the general mood of the bees, he thought they were mellow as he had young kids underfoot. I heard the kid crashing around in the background.
He was concerned because he said something had been trying to get into the hives. I asked him if he saw paw prints on the hive entrances. He didn’t recall any muddy paw prints but described the holes dug around the hives. Skunks!!! I mentioned I hoped the hives were at least 16 inches (or about 40 cm) off the ground as the skunks would have to get u on their hind legs to snuffle around the entrances. This would expose the skunk’s belly to the bees’ stingers. He said he put a bunch of rocks around to discourage the skunks.
This issue had me thinking about the arrangements beekeepers might make with any potential homeowners. Someone had written a comment to my last post saying the homeowner had jurisdiction especially if the hives have been neglected for many months.
What kind of agreements should beekeepers make with homeowners? Does anyone know of any contracts out there pertaining to this kind of arrangement? If so let me know by leaving a comment below. When we get to check out the hives, I will report on that too, of course.
A Wet Weather Tip for Your Beehives
I wanted to share an idea with all of you that Greg, a reader, and friend of this blog, shared with me. Greg, a longtime beekeeper, has written me in the past with book recommendations. He actually was the person who recommended one of my now-favorite beekeeping books, Mastering the Art of Beekeeping by Ormond Aebi. Greg had the fortune of meeting Aebi and had told me what a wonderful and generous man and beekeeper Aebi was.
You can see that Greg’s hive covers are modified in winter to include a sheet metal covering cut to overlap the hive’s periphery and weighted to stay put during stormy and windy weather. When I looked out the window at my own hives during a recent heavy rain, I noticed that the back of the hives was getting the brunt of the downpour and looked soaked through. Although we have follower boards on the sides of our hives that act as barriers to any water seepage, I did worry about all the water hitting the rear of the hive. Greg’s sheet metal roof would go a long way toward helping protect the top boxes of the hives from the worst of the wet. I was very intrigued by this simple and inexpensive modification and thought all of you might enjoy it as well.
What innovations have you used with your hives? Please share them with me and the readers. Thanks.