Beginner's question

Beekeeping Forum

Help Support Beekeeping Forum:

Beacagusmeal 

New Bee
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Location
uk
Hive Type
none
A very beginning question, if you'd be so kind - I'm thinking of keeping bees, but how many hives would it be normal to keep in a suburban garden, and how much honey would you normally get (rough guesstimate) from one hive?

I looked at the FAQ, but it seems to be only about forum use.
 

Midland Beek 

Drone Bee
Joined
Oct 18, 2009
Messages
1,969
Reaction score
0
Location
South Staffs
Hive Type
none
One colony doesn not work. I think the aim in a suburban garden would be to keep two or three colonies, unless it was a very large garden where a greater number would be possible.

My best advice to anyone with plans to keep bees in their garden is to have a Location B available where the bees could be moved to if problems arise.
 

Rosti 

Drone Bee
Joined
Jul 29, 2009
Messages
1,752
Reaction score
0
Location
North Yorks, UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
4
Same answer as MB, but I'd simply say 2 max, simple as that. You need 2 because 1 hive can act as a donor to other and they act as insurance to each other including when over wintering. Suburban = surrounded by neighbours, it's not how big your garden is but how close your hive location is to others. If you search the forum you'll see plenty of threads on the things to consider before keeping in a garden or starting up in general. Plenty do keep in a garden (I started that way), but you should be aware of the threats / risks / signs of a problem and have an alternative location avaailable, hence MBs 'site B' comment. The problem can be that the crisis/agression/swarming/whatever hits before you can move them and then you are in to relationship damage limitation or worse injury to neighbours / loved ones.
 

Summerslease 

House Bee
Joined
Jul 6, 2010
Messages
144
Reaction score
0
Location
Stockton-on-Tees UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
4 and 3 nucs.
I started this year with one hive in my garden and one in my mother's about half a mile away. One was a bought nucleus and the other a swarm. They made good size colonies through the season but wouldn't draw the foundation in the supers I put on, so no honey this year. I will be using both to make a second hive in both gardens next year. That's if they overwinter successfully. I think the most important thing is to get a good natured colony-your local BKA should be able to provide a nucleus-to make handling them easier for you and avoid upsetting the neighbours. The second consideration is to make them fly out of your garden above head height by surrounding the hive with a tall hedge, fencing, or netting. Then no-one will even notice they're there. The amount of honey you eventually get depends on many factors, forage, weather, disease among others. Optimism, patience and researching the subject will keep you busy until next season. Good luck.
 

Beacagusmeal 

New Bee
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Location
uk
Hive Type
none
Ah, I see, thank you. And what about how much honey you can expect per hive?
 

CliffDale 

House Bee
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
210
Reaction score
0
Location
Cornwall uk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
8
I had a couple of hives in the garden but ended up moving them away. They got so busy that I was afraid of them stinging self when gardening. Worse still, going for next door when they are cutting grass etc.

Take a look at this.

http://www.beekeepingforum.co.uk/video.php?do=viewdetails&videoid=65

Are you happy about this amount of bees in the garden?

How much honey?

This is my first year of bees so my inexperience did not help.

The last 3 weeks of August was so bad that the bees ate most of the stores built up. I didn't bother extracting honey. Better luck next season!

Do you have a local farmer you can approach?

Best wishes with your bees!

Cliff
 

Beacagusmeal 

New Bee
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Location
uk
Hive Type
none
I'm in Ireland, and we have a reasonably sequestered place where the bees will be happy and well fed.
 

Beacagusmeal 

New Bee
Joined
Sep 16, 2010
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Location
uk
Hive Type
none
By the way, while I don't want to get up my neighbours' noses, and probably won't put hives in my own garden because of this, this Guardian piece says there are lots of hives all over London on official buildings. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/aug/05/affordable-beekeeping-beehaus

There are also many hives in Paris, where Paris honey is eagerly bought as a gourmet delight every June; Haussman succeeded in banning the pigs, cows, sheep and hens that had been kept in the city until his street-widening, but bees were ceded as a right to Parisians in exchange for their agreeing not to keep other livestock, and to this day many parks and apartment blocks have hives.
 

Rosti 

Drone Bee
Joined
Jul 29, 2009
Messages
1,752
Reaction score
0
Location
North Yorks, UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
4
Beacagusmeal, you spot that people are rightly cautious about guessing yield per hive, per year because there are so many factors to consider. But here goes ....

Say you have a good spring build up, you've got some nice willow, crocus and snow drops, a few blue bells and some rape near by. You could well get a super out of that. You harvest mid-late May.

Forage and nectar flow remains good through the early /mid summer, you harvest again mid august, you get a couple of supers this time. If you are lucky you might even get a fourth by september (or you have gone to the heather deliberately) if things are really going well, or if you didn't harvest then they may have used it because of poor forage (if you took it you are now feeding)

A well drawn super on 9 frames with deep comb can easily give 35lbs honey and newly drawn on 11 frames and shallow drawn perhaps 25 Lb. Your typical hive is then giving you anywhere between 50lbs in a duff but 'stable' year and 140+lbs in a good year. In a bad year (and we haven't included the possibility of swarming / forced splitting = worse), you've got next to nothing. If you are keeping to make money from honey with a couple of hives then it's unlikely given your costs and time.
 
Last edited:

Skyhook 

Queen Bee
Joined
May 19, 2010
Messages
3,054
Reaction score
0
Location
Dorset
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
5
Your typical hive is then giving you anywhere between 50lbs in a duff but 'stable' year and 140+lbs in a good year.
Some beeks I know would be very happy with that. Yes to all of that, but I'd have thought 50lb was an ok year, 30lb duff but stable.
 

MuswellMetro 

Queen Bee
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Messages
6,528
Reaction score
27
Location
London N10
Hive Type
14x12
Beacagusmeal, you spot that people are rightly cautious about guessing yield per hive, per year because there are so many factors to consider. But here goes ....

Say you have a good spring build up, you've got some nice willow, crocus and snow drops, a few blue bells and some rape near by. You could well get a super out of that. You harvest mid-late May.

Forage and nectar flow remains good through the early /mid summer, you harvest again mid august, you get a couple of supers this time. If you are lucky you might even get a fourth by september (or you have gone to the heather deliberately) if things are really going well, or if you didn't harvest then they may have used it because of poor forage (if you took it you are now feeding)

A well drawn super on 9 frames with deep comb can easily give 35lbs honey and newly drawn on 11 frames and shallow drawn perhaps 25 Lb. Your typical hive is then giving you anywhere between 50lbs in a duff but 'stable' year and 140+lbs in a good year. In a bad year (and we haven't included the possibility of swarming / forced splitting = worse), you've got next to nothing. If you are keeping to make money from honey with a couple of hives then it's unlikely given your costs and time.
Rosti totally agree, excellent post


location also plays a major role in the quality of honey, i had one hive on Oil Seed Rape north of london and some on horse meadow pasture within north london, The OSR site can produce 200 to 250 lbs in a good year in early summer,that ten supers, then nothing, whereas the other a steady flow until the blackberries finish

why dont i have all my hive on the OSR site, cos i hate the taste of the honey and it is a pain to extract and bottle, you either love it or leave it, n
 

Rosti 

Drone Bee
Joined
Jul 29, 2009
Messages
1,752
Reaction score
0
Location
North Yorks, UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
4
Skyhook, you are just as right as I am, there are so many variables, and if there were 10 beeks you'd have 11 views :smilielol5:

I guess I am basing the low, mid and top end on the fact that there is already pre-drawn comb so the girls are filling rather than creating. For new drawn or cut comb you could well be right (although no exp of cut comb personally). 1 example though from this year (which wasn't special / stunning on weather or forrage), an over wintered colony on Nat Brood, switched to 14x12, they drew that, gave 35lbs of early honey, then another 35 main crop, then more balsalm which was fed back and we had a starving warning for most of August, theyd have easily been over 100 this year if they had already been on 14x12 I think.
 
Last edited:

Monsieur Abeille 

Queen Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jul 8, 2010
Messages
2,985
Reaction score
2
Location
Exmoor
Hive Type
none
Number of Hives
None of my own
I would suggest that you don't have to start out with 2 colonies from day one, but it would be wise to try and get a second throughout the season, either by natural means such as splitting, or by aquireing elsewhere.

Re honey - if you start with a smallish nuc rather than a full colony be aware that their yields will be a bit lower during the first year while they build up numbers
 

Hebeegeebee 

Queen Bee
Joined
Dec 4, 2008
Messages
2,018
Reaction score
53
Location
S.E. Norfolk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
12 on a good day, often more..
1 hive is risky - as posted - so 2 hives is good. You will need at least one spare though for when they attempt to swarm. They can be kept in a modest garden - subject to the possibility of an out apiary and having good neighbours. Bees will fly up and over a 6 foot fence and cause little bother to them - usually.

30 - 80 lbs of honey per hive per year. Does vary considerably year to year and from location to location. Say an average is 50 lbs. You'll have give-aways of course but you should make a small return.
 
Top