Rooftop beekeeping for a company?

Beekeeping Forum

Help Support Beekeeping Forum:

Merk 

New Bee
Joined
Jun 15, 2020
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Location
Manchester
Hive Type
none
Hi,

So we have been approached by a company to keep two hives up on the roof of their building. We arn't a commercial company or anything but just hobbyists right now however this sounds like a great opporunity for more exposure and potentially to make progress in to a bit of a business. I'm sure however there are a number of things we need to consider and i'm wondering if anyone here has done something similar? Do we or the company need a particular type of insurance? I'm assuming we will need to invoice them, so i'm guessing we need to set ourselves up as a Ltd company?

I'm also curious if anyone has had any experience with the bees swarming in a city area?

Apologies if this is a bit broad but this would be our first foray in to this sort of thing.

Thanks

Mark.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

Queen Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2011
Messages
25,950
Reaction score
3,425
Location
Glanaman,Carmarthenshire,Wales
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
Too many - but not nearly enough
Dusty Rhodes - who used to frequent here, but we don't see him very often nowadays was the keeper of the bees on the roof of Manchester Cathedral, as well as the ones on the roof of the Print Works (or was it the soap works? can't remember now)
 

Honey Junction Ltd 

House Bee
Joined
Aug 29, 2011
Messages
374
Reaction score
43
Location
shropshire
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
173 national & 100 commercial
Steve Benbow has a lot of rooftop hives, London honey company.
 

Courty 

House Bee
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
125
Reaction score
11
Location
Sheffield
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
13
I haven’t ever done it but did look into it at my own work place. The main issues that would need to be addressed are carrying the bees up onto the roof and on occasion back off it. How would you be covered if they escaped en route on a stairwell or in a lift etc if someone tripped or some other feasible minor disaster happened?
That to me seemed to me the main issue. Other considerations were protection of maintenance workers on the roof, extinguishing smoker before walking back through the building. I’m sure there are other issues I haven’t foreseen.
I’m certain it is doable, you would need to be covered insurance wise.
it is an exciting prospect.

Courty
 

coffindodger 

House Bee
Joined
Jan 15, 2015
Messages
281
Reaction score
19
Location
North Wales
Hive Type
none
The bees on the roof of Notre Dame survived. Its common practice in lots of places, but everything depends on the actual location and access. Think about your own safety first, then the bees. Check for local exhausts/chimneys.
 

pargyle 

Queen Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Oct 16, 2012
Messages
12,396
Reaction score
2,449
Location
Fareham, Hampshire UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
6
The bees on the roof of Notre Dame survived. Its common practice in lots of places, but everything depends on the actual location and access. Think about your own safety first, then the bees. Check for local exhausts/chimneys.
Yes ..there are hives on the office building a little down the road from where I work ... it's a fairly exposed flat roof and in the high winds a few weeks ago I could see one of them had blown over. There is no parapet around the roof - just a guard rail. There's a couple of enclosures up there and I would have sited them in the lee of those but there must be a reason why they are not there and sited in an area away from them.

You will need to anchor them down well. Plus - access to the roof ? .. I've no idea how they get to the ones down the road - our building roof is accessed by a vertical ladder in a cage ... you would never get a full size hive or super up or more importantly down when filled. Dusty Rhodes had to contend with a very tight staircase to get kit onto the roof at the Cathedral. Plus .. beware of any fragile areas of roof or weight limitations.

When would you be allowed to inspect ? Are there any access limitations ... times/days when you cannot get to them.

There's a lot you need to consider and get down in writing as part of the agreement before you put any bees there ... and a back up plan that ensures you have somewhere else for them if it all goes pear shaped ! Are there not any ground level areas that you could fence off and achieve the same result for the company's eco ambitions ?

Sounds obvious doesn't it ?
 

Erichalfbee 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
21,106
Reaction score
2,888
Location
Ceredigion
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
7
Philip
Makes you wonder whether a company’s eco ambitions might be best fulfilled by simply putting empty hives on their roof. That way they could advertise that they were actually doing something useful😉
You never know. Bees might even like the idea 😂😂
 

domino 

Queen Bee
Joined
Dec 21, 2011
Messages
2,327
Reaction score
98
Location
South London
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
10
Philip
Makes you wonder whether a company’s eco ambitions might be best fulfilled by simply putting empty hives on their roof. That way they could advertise that they were actually doing something useful😉
You never know. Bees might even like the idea 😂😂
Or have a green roof, plant some nice flowers up there.
 

ericbeaumont 

Drone Bee
Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
1,270
Reaction score
756
Location
North London, West Essex and Surrey
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
70
We arn't a commercial company or anything but just hobbyists right now however...potentially to make progress in to a bit of a business.
First thing to get straight is that if you agree a deal in writing then you're no longer hobby beekeepers and must adopt and practice a professional approach.

Of course, this mysterious asset is likely to be gained piecemeal in a hazy future but if you set out to give the impression that all bases are covered, you probably will do so by the end.

The Agreement
1
What has been agreed so far? Put in writing that you will do x for y and if the disaster of z turns up you will respond and deal with it: move hives off-site within 24 hours. Both parties ought to have a termination clause.
You don't need a limited company but beyond £1k (not difficult) you will need to account to HMRC for income; hang onto expenditure receipts!

Keep it plain: I'm in discussion with a distribution depot/landowner company that sent me an estate agent lease cobbled together with a few numpty bee restrictions that revealed they're clueless. Out of curiosity and a desire to learn I pursued it and passed my instincts to a friendly beekeeper solicitor, who advised against; we shall see whether they accept my red ink, but so far they take forever to do not much; luckily I'm not desperate.

2 Why does the company want bees? Usual reason is to tick the green box (aka greenwashing) which means you're providing a professional service.

3 Will the company pay for bees and hives and management and keep the honey, or will you move in your own stock and keep the honey?
If the former, you'll need accurate costings for kit and an hourly rate for management. If the latter, offer a token number of 135g jars for PR and sell them bigger jars at a discount; what's your retail price for a 340g jar?

Commercial beekeeping costings are tricky but you've got to start somewhere: travel to site, unload/prep for checks, checks, load/exit site. Extraction, bottling and labelling must be timed. Logistics of shifting boxes to and from site, frame making, label design and printing must all be included.

4 Risk Assessment: you will need to provide one that will assess the work from parking to leaving the site; the company may have a management plan for building access and roof work. If you're working under contract then BBKA PLI will be inadequate, so speak to the BBKA Insurers (contacts on website) and ask around for advice.

5 Public interest: you may be asked to give staff a tour of hives; do you have access to extra bee suits or jackets? Will you charge for what is essentially a teaching role? Are you familiar with anaphylaxis and how to respond? Enter the apiary on BeeBase and give OS co-ordinates using gridreferencefinder.com; put advisory warning signs at roof access points but do not cause alarm by using words such as danger or sting: try the cosy caution and bees at work.

The Practical
6
Access to the roof: is there a lift? If not, it'll be a regular slog which in time you will curse. If the roof is higher than about two floors then the bees will curse. Lone roof working is not ideal: work in pairs.

7 Access in principle: summer beekeeping can start at 5am and end at midnight so aim for 24-hour access; it's not always possible but aim for it.

8 Parking: unless you live locally or transit boxes by cargo bike, parking space close to the roof access is essential.

9 Storage of kit: ask for a room or space near the roof to store boxes at the beginning of the season. If not, cater for plenty of journeys to and from home.

10 Hive security: high wind and sun are rooftop enemies; poly hives will mitigate both; Abelo are (in my view) the best current National option.
Keep the centre of gravity low: a cut-down pallet is ideal; add a strap; I put 450 square concrete slabs on rooftop hives in winter; look to site hives in the lee of winter winds.

11 Forage: what does Google Earth reveal in growth for two miles around the site? If it's all concrete...

Colony management
12
If the company pays for kit and management you'll need to know what you're letting yourself in for; beekeeping time is fluid (no matter how hard we try) but when you charge, you must aim to reduce elasticity and focus on the essentials.

13 If 12 applies, charge proper money; £40/hour matched to a schedule is a ball park cost.

14 Clipped queens will buy time and save the loss of a swarm if you
miss a QC; make sure you don't miss QCs by shaking every frame when checking colonies during the period of peak risk; put out a bait hive.

15 Decide whether you really need to schedule 7-day checks; I use 14-day checks with clipped queens; obviously colony status will determine the need for checks but you'll charge a standard annual fee anyway, so your skill and observation may save you work and make you money.

Your failures and disasters (even success) will entertain and teach you to be better beekeepers, but the company will probably be unaware of what's involved and want only the comfort of fluffy good news. If you organise yourself better than many a hobby beekeeper you'll easily promote the ups and cope with the downs. :)

PS: send a PM if you want to look at an RA and management schedule.
 
Last edited:

Merk 

New Bee
Joined
Jun 15, 2020
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Location
Manchester
Hive Type
none
Thanks for all the responses everyone! A lot to consider, indeed some of the aspects that concern me the most are coming from a legal standpoint, IE: How do we make sure we are covered in case say yes we tripped, a box opens up in the building and now there are bees everywhere :eek:. I'll need to have a word with the insurers on that one.

Were keen to make sure the building owners know exactly what they are getting into. That for all the good will in the world this can still have its suprises (Swarming, a hive strap coming loose/snapping, slightly aggressive or territorial bee's etc). Even if it means them turning us down I wouldn't want to put bee's anywhere that would be detrimental for them, what I do know is there is a rooftop garden on the building thats supposed to be quite big and there are a few parks as well as some other rooftop gardens etc in the area.
 

ericbeaumont 

Drone Bee
Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
1,270
Reaction score
756
Location
North London, West Essex and Surrey
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
70
in case say yes we tripped, a box opens up in the building and now there are bees everywhere :eek:. I'll need to have a word with the insurers on that one.
Don't panic: the bees will be strapped and it won't happen, so best not alarm the poor dears.

Stick to the basic script: cover yourselves for general commercial beekeeping activities and plan the move so that all goes well. If access is at all awkward, break the colonies into nuc boxes and unite when up top.
 

Frizzaldo 

New Bee
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
49
Reaction score
28
Location
n/a
Hive Type
none
on the swarming topic:




maybe stick up a few bait hives
 

Latest posts

Top