Many members of the public like the idea of bee hives at the bottom of the garden or other piece of land that they own and contact us to offer such an area as an apiary for one of our members. We are very grateful, but if you would like to offer such a site, there are criteria to seriously consider first:
is the proposed apiary site secure? Hives can get stolen or be vandalised.
would the beekeeper be able to keep more than one hive there? Out-apiaries are quite laborious as various kit needs to be ferried to/fro, so beekeepers like to keep several hives at an apiary, probably no less than 3.
You would not be able to use any insecticides
would the beekeeper be able to have unlimited access to the site? This can be inconvenient for people who have allowed their garden to be used as an apiary, so it's really important to decide whether you really would want someone turning up at a time when it may not suit you, perhaps because you have visitors.
Inspections into the hive need to take place every 7 days during the active beekeeping season (April to end of July) and sometimes these have to be brought forward if predicted weather conditions mean that the hive can't be opened on a particular day. So a beekeeper couldn't necessarily say e.g. "I'll be there every Tuesday" or at a particular time.
During the inactive season, beekeepers still need access to check food supplies in the hives and possibly treat for parasites, so beekeeper visits would carry on, but be less frequent.
if you decide after a while that you do not want beehives in your garden after all, you would need to agree a reasonably long notice period with the beekeeper before the arrangement progresses to hive placement, as it is not easy to find an alternative site and remove hives at short notice.
it may mean that if the beekeeper is opening the hives, that you need to stay indoors whilst that's happening - unless the hives are situated at least 7 metres away from other activity in the garden at that time. This is an arbitrary figure, suggested as an absolute minimum if e.g. hives are to be kept near a footpath/thoroughfare.
ideally the beekeeper needs to be able to set up the hives with the entrance opening towards an 'obstacle' i.e. a fence or hedge so that they have to fly up and away.
bees do not sting willy-nilly, it can be because they fly into you in error and even then it's not a given that you'll be stung. Occasionally, they become defensive if they don’t have a queen e.g. because she dies, flies away with a swarm, or the queen is old and is being superseded. During such events the ‘guard bees’ may try to intimidate you if you e.g. work/mow/sit near the hives.
do you have neighbours close by?
are your neighbours likely to object?
do children or pets use the area that you have in mind? Not always a good mix with bees if the children/pets are used to running around the area where the bees are kept.
do you want any rent for the site? Although many people say "no, I'd just like half the honey":
beekeepers don't necessarily get honey every year or very much honey, as the bees foraging activities are greatly affected by weather conditions
beekeeping is quite hard work/time consuming so honey hard earned, therefore most beekeepers would not find this a viable situation but would willingly give you some jars of honey by way of a thank you.
there is no guarantee that honey bees on site would pollinate e.g. your fruit trees and flowers attractive to honey bees have to be on a tree, large shrub, or mass-planted annuals or perennials to attract them at all. Honey bees will fly straight over the site that their apiary is situated on if they've found something more interesting! The bumble bees, solitary bees and hoverflies are happy to oblige though!
If your proposed apiary site meets with the above criteria, please contact: email@example.com