Bees and children

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New Bee
Aug 10, 2009
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Hive Type
Hi, potential newbie here,

I am thinking of starting bee keeping with a couple of National hives. We live on the edge of a village with fields at the end of the garden. We have two children, 4 and 6 with the six year old being deaf, very lively and not particularly respectful of animals.

Does anyone have experience of keeping bees in this sort of environment? Is it enough to screen off any hives so they are less accessible with the hive entrance facing out of the bottom of the garden? It is possible to shut the gate to this part of the garden during inspections.

I really want to start this new hobby, but I am worried that the bees may attack if riled up at the wrong time.

Tom, you are right to be cautious ... and before PolyHive bites my head off, especially so in a rural garden setting! You don't say how far from either your house or other peoples houses your site is? The gate in it's own right may be enough to keep the kids out but not the bees 'in' and I would suggest you maintain segregation at all times not just inspections. You can accompany them for a look at what's going on.
Wld suggest you errect a light mesh fence (gardeners plastic mesh is cheap and effective because it still lets light and warmth through) to 2m height across the line of your segregation point. Provided your perimeter fences are of an equal height then your bees will be forced above head height quickly reducing disruption in yoiur own garden and that of your neighbours. Also make sure thay have a reliable water source within the segregated area of the garden.
I keep in the garden and will extend to an out apiary next year. I've had no probs to date, that said I have supportive and intetested neighbours. Hope that helps. Regards, Rosti
Bees can be touchly at times so inspections should be timed so they do not coincide with the family BBQ or when the children are playing football in the garden.

If you can screen off the hives behind a trellis and have the entrances facing out into the fields you should have no major problems but to prevent the children doing their own unscheduled hive inspections I suggest a decent fence and a locked gate. Treat the hives as if you had a garden pond or swimming pool - don't let the children have unsupervised access.

Looking at it more positively, this may be an opportunity to get the eldest involved in looking after animals and to be honest, if they get stung they will quickly learn to treat the bees with respect! You could also buy some local honey and show them what you are trying to produce yourself - this should get their interest.
I have only had my Bees a few weeks,
but initially had similar concernes to you.
My youngest son is blind, and I have two other boys that are into everything,
so I was worried a Hive could put the Garden out of bounds.
However, its not been too much of a problem.
I have fenced off the area around the Hive at the bottom of the garden,
and placed the Hive entrance pointing away from the house.
So far the bees have stayed out of our way.
When I do the inspections the children are banned from the garden,
but as this doesnt take very long its not a problem.
Inspections dont take long but if you have a hive that has for some reason gone queenless the gentlest bees can turn into nasty little sods, and in some cases will follow and sting for no reason. Not trying to put you off just making sure you get the facts. I have a hive in my garden and am well aware of the risks. :cheers2:

I would also try to find somewhere that you can move them to if there is a problem. (remembering the 3 mile rule)
my garden is 200ft long and I initially wanted to have the hives at the bottom of the garden but MrsTaff wasn't keen, I found a spot in a local orchard and in hindsight I'm really glad that they are not in the garden, what started as one docile nuc is now 1 rather tetchy hive and one generally quiet hive that was FAR from quiet last weekend. :toetap05:

Its these inspections you really have to consider, the ones where the unexpected happens, just my 2p worth.
quick question... if a hive does become tetchy and nasty during inspections, how long does it take for them to settle back down again afterwards?
With most of the bees I have had it was almost as soon as the roof went back on. If it carried on, like it did with one colony that followed me, then I would requeen. Dead easy - you just ring up for one, you can get new queens for £18 and it is no fun fighting off bees.
quick question... if a hive does become tetchy and nasty during inspections, how long does it take for them to settle back down again afterwards?

it may not settle down, in my limited experience bees can be up and down for a variety of reasons but they can also stay moody longer term - I have 3 hives that started out soft as a brush and are now plain evil :boxing_smiley:, in fact I also have 2 swarm captures that started out nice and have now got into attack mode.....hay ho

not a big fan of changing queens simply because they are miffy mind (I would give them a season), bees aren’t pets
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hi, ive been beekeeping for two years now, my oldest is 2 1/2 years she knows a bee to look at however i will not let her near the bees( out the car) untill i know she understand what bees can to ( i.e. sting) if your eldest can understand what bees can do and can respect that. then i personally would allow them to watch at first with full protection. I find that my kids are becoming interested the my bees out of pure curiousity ( cant spell) and i will not allow them near them till they understand.
i would suggest that you have a child/bee proof barrier up with a locked gate, but dont ban the kids from there, when you are in there ( i.e include them). if you dont, as u would know, when you are not looking they will find a way in there.

does this help at all?
ive have 15 hive . one from last year 14+ from swarm collections, 2 have been not good ( i.e. one i killed as you could not walk past without being stung, the other were reuntied with a better queen and bees( swarm). if you work out the odds thats good. i would recommed that you have the bees else where for a while till you happy to put them in ur garden
I had my first two years of keeping bees in my large rural garden with three young children. I fenced them off with screens and made sure that the bees ended up landing like Harrier Jump Jets. It worked for a long while until one of my hives became very aggressive. I had a hive open one day and my kids came into the garden and my children were stung several times. (My daughter had 11 stings to her head)

Even when I re-queened the offending colony, the children wouldn't come back into the garden. As you can imagine it caused a huge row with my wife.

They're now in an out apiary and I would never bring them back. I found there was enough to worry about without this.

My view is that Children and hives don't mix.
Glad to read this thread I had a hive on my allotment and all was good last year and this I was able to stand five feet from the hive without any problems until the last few months and they went bad nothing I could do no way I would have found the old Queen in the brood chamber so I could re-Queen was getting 100s of stings on my clothing just trying so I tried splitting the hive into two and introduced the new Queen into the supers one being drawn foundation this was going to be the temporary brood chamber ( the old Queen and bees in the brood chamber unfortunately had to be dispatched) This was successful except the bees left continued attacking and stinging innocent people 30+ feet from the hive and it would have taken up to 8 weeks for the new Queen to have made the difference so as a matter of health and safety I had to close the hive and kill the bees
Its not a pleasant experience being chased by bees when they are trying to sting you in the face THE ONLY DEFENCE THEY DEVELOPED AGAINST BEARS STEELING THE HONEY IS TO GO FOR THE EYES that’s why we wear a veil its worth remembering that from time to time
We can keep bees in close proximity to ourselves but we must recognise the early signs of problems and start to deal with them sooner rather than later.
Thanks for the interesting comments. After talking it over with the wife and my more experienced friend we have decided not to keep bees in the garden until the children are older and wiser.

Unfortunately we don't know of anywhere sutible to use as an out apiary, but when we redo the garden over the next couple of years, we will keep the bees in mind by planting lots of lavendars, etc and keeping space for the hives we will eventually get.
Unfortunately we don't know of anywhere sutible to use as an out apiary

Get the maps out and go out and ask farmers, what do you have to lose? :)

The suggested method is -

Find a suitable place with good vehicle access for you, but private enough to stop thieves.

Go ask the owner if you could keep some hives there.

Rent appears to be 1lb jar of honey per hive per year :)

Yours Roy
The garden is invariably not the only option, wherever you live.
If it's a fairly built up area, you could be able to find industrial estates or business parks where a hive or two could be put - companies like to have something eco-/community freindly on their annual reports, after all!

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