Q. I’m interested in having a hosting a hive, but don’t know if my yard is suitable. Help?

A. It’s important that the hive is out of the way of foot traffic and general use of the backyard, but still a convenient location for us to access and ensure the proper care and maintenance of the hive. We want to avoid sections of the yard that are windy, wet or overly shaded (too cool|). It’s probably a good idea not to locate too close to a neighbour either. We’ll come and take a look at your yard, and together can find a spot that works for you and the bees.

Q: Won’t a beehive in my yard make it unusable? I don’t want thousands of bees around me when I’m trying to enjoy my backyard.

A. A well placed beehive will be almost unnoticeable and shouldn’t interfere at all with your normal use of your yard. Bees are attracted to flowering plants, so if you have flowers in your yard, you’ll have bees even without having hives. The majority of the bees from your yard hive will be out gathering nectar from plants in the surrounding area, often kilometres away. As long as you don’t stand directly in front of the hive entrance, the girls will ignore you completely.

Q. I’d like to learn more about beekeeping, and maybe even get bees of my own. Any advice?

A: There are several excellent beekeeping courses in Guelph available to beekeepers of all levels. Beginner beekeepers should contact either the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association (http://www.ontariobee.com/outreach/workshops), or check into the University of Guelph’s Introductory Beekeeping Course (http://www.uoguelph.ca/honeybee/education-beekeeping.shtml)

Q. Don’t the bees need the honey you’re taking? Won’t they starve?

A. Bees by their very nature will produce honey as long as there is space for them to store it. In the wild, bees would fill their hive to capacity (think of a hollow space in a tree or log) and then once out of room the colony splits and starts fresh in a new spot. Modern beehives are designed to constantly give the bees more room to store honey by adding honey supers on top of each other. When the beekeeper takes honey from their hive they are careful to only take the extra honey, and always leave enough for the hive to safely make it through the winter. If the bees have not been able to gather enough honey for both the colony and the beekeeper, the honey is left for the hive to use.

Q. Is there a way I can make my yard welcoming to honeybees and other pollinators? Any plants I should consider having in my garden?

A. Bees visit flowers for two things: nectar (the bee’s main source of energy) and pollen (which provides proteins and fats). A variety of plants that flower at different times of the year will make sure that there’s always food available. These plants, organized by when they bloom, are just a few of the species native to Canada that attract bees:

Early Mid-season Late
Blueberry Blackberry Aster (perennial)
Cotoneaster Cat mint Beggar’s tricks
Crabapple Catnip Borage
Cranberry Chives Coneflower
Crocus Dahlia Cornflower
Foxglove Hyssop Cosmos
Heliotrope Lavender Goldenrod
Hazelnut Raspberry Pumpkin
Heather Sunflower Sedum
Primrose Yarrow Squash

Also, consider making a “bee bath” — line a shallow bowl or plate with rocks. Add some water and have the rocks act as landing pads for bees to drink from. Refresh the water daily whenever possible.

For more information on creating a pollinator friendly space, check out this link: