Hello prospective Bee Keeper!Many people keep bees in suburban areas, and as long as you respect the bees, and ensure their safety (and hence, the safety of surrounding humans), you can likely become a successful beekeeper in your area.Firstly, there are MANY great "apiarist" forums (the fancy name for beekeepers), where existing beekeepers will be happy to answer your questions.I'd suggest first starting with: http://forum.beemaster.com/...and possibly reading regularly here:http://www.beesource.com/When keeping bees in a 'shared' area, such as a subdivision/housing development...the beekeeper needs to ensure the bees are not able to be accessed by local children, knocked over by errant footballs or bicyclists, etc. Ensuring your hive(s) are in a stable, safe spot, away from local children, is priority. Another small concern is 'swarming'. Be sometimes swarm (you can read all about that at the sites above). In the wild, swarms are generally non-threatening...but if you have 10-20,000 bees hanging from you neighbor's gutter/house in your subdivision....that could be a potential issue.;-)Do a little reading at the sites listed above, and see about how safely you can set up your hives. If nothing else...consider keeping your bees in a nearby field. Many farmers/agricultural groups WELCOME bee hives, to promote plant pollination. You may cut a deal to keep you hives on a local farmers field, or similar for free, as long as you are respectful of his/her property, etc. That would allow a little more ground room for your hive (if your backyard is small), will invite less ire from neighbors who (wrongly) fear honeybees, and will help out you local agricultural groups.There is a guy who's grown infamous for misunderstanding the bee, adn carrying out this litlte act...which will show you how important it is to get people educated on the importance of bees in the natural environment: http://amarille.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/creative-cruelty-very-very-upsetting-post/Also...check with your state's Department of Agriculture. They can often point you to local beekeeping clubs that you may not know exist right under your nose....and they can really help with regard to local issues specific to your area, and help get you started (some states even give away free bees to promote proliferation of hives).Good luck...and get to beekeeping....they say 1 in 3 bites of food you eat is thanks to pollination by the honeybee...so get out there and raise some honeybees!Good luck!
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Being a beekeeper for more than 50 years I would suggest: 1. check if your local by-laws allow bees within city limits 2. have a high fence or thick hedge all round your hives so that the bees have to fly up and won't get tangled in peoples hair. 8 feet high would be good. 10 feet even better. 3. keep the colonies small. Big strong colonies can get very protective when the honey flow dries up. For 'protective' most people assume aggressive. Small growing colonies are rarely aggressive. 4. be very gentle when handling your bees and only handle them at ideal times such as a warm sunny day around noon. 5. do not wear gloves. Just wear a T shirt and veil. You will soon know if the time you have chosen to check your bees is good or not!! The neighbours may find out before you otherwise.
Keep the hives gentle - meaning if you get a hot hive requeen immediately. Keep your beehives out of sight. Bees are always around you , and they are very peaceful creatures contrary to what most people believe. You can touch a bee working on a flower and she will not attack you or be aggressive in any way.
Also the space in front of the hive - the path where they get of an land should be out of way, this is the point where they sting, when they accidentally bump into you or someone else. For example a flat rooftop would be excellent place for a hive.
Try the backyard beekeepers association website: http://www.backyardbeekeepers.com/