Beehive Distance From People
Hi again! I need some more expert advice if you don't mind. Some of my family members are a bit cautious about the distance between the beehive and themselves.
They are worried the bees will come too close to them. I was wondering how far the beehive should be from my family when they're outside in the backyard?
Thanks. I love this website, by the way.
This is actually a bit of a tricky question. Assuming that your bees are not excessively aggressive (like Africanized bees) this is not as much a matter of safety as of comfort. And comfort can only be defined by the individual.
The fact that your family is worried tells me that they won't necessarily be comforted if you tell them that it's perfectly safe for the bees to be x feet away from people.
In truth, the fact is that most of the time you could stand right next to a hive of mild temperament for hours at a time and not be bothered. In fact, I've spent many an hour sitting right next to one of my hives watching the bees coming and going.
As long as you're not impeding their access to the hive, the bees will pretty much ignore you (except for the occasional bee that might buzz around you momentarily just to check you out. And unfortunately, that's enough to freak some people out!)
But there can be conditions which can make even a normally mild tempered hive a bit testy. The sudden stoppage of a honey flow will sometimes have that effect. Or if the hive is under pressure from robber bees. Or if you've just collected the rent (harvested honey).
And there's always the off chance that someone in the yard will get in the bees' flight path and end up with a bee trapped in their clothing or in their hair, which can lead to an accidental sting.
It's also possible for bees to be attracted to the scent of a perfume, or to brightly colored clothing. When that happens, the bee will just buzz around the person momentarily until she decides there's nothing interesting there (nectar or pollen), and then fly away.
Again, though, that will cause some people to panic and start swatting at the bee, which can also lead to an accidental sting.
You might consider erecting a solid fence around your bees. If it's at least 6 feet tall, that will force the flight path of the bees above the heads of anyone close by. That will also put the bees out-of-sight, and hopefully, out-of-mind of anyone who might be nervous about them.
I know that's probably not a real satisfying answer, but it's just not possible to make a flat statement that 'as long as a hive is kept x feet from any people the bees will never bother anyone.'
Hope this helps some!