Stylish Urban Bee Digs Fit For a Queen
April 5, 2010 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Keeping bees, as the Beehaus designers describe it, is a bit like owning an airport–you’ve got to have a well designed building (the Beehaus), easy access for service vehicles (you), and a runway for the planes (the bees).
Like many New York City coop apartments, the beehaus has two entrances, one at either end. There’s enough space for 22 frames–double the number in a traditional hive. In spring, when the queen is laying at her maximum rate, and your bees are rapidly expanding in number, the extra space in the Beehaus allows you to either a) expand the hive as a single colony or b) divide the hive in two and start a second colony. This is an effective method of managing your bees’ natural urge to swarm.
According to Omlet, modern bees need more space than they did in the past because queens have been bred to be more prolific egg layers. The Beehaus uses deep frames (14″x12″) that allow the whole colony to live in a single brood box. This simplifies inspecting your bees and is less disruptive to them than being housed in a double brood box system–supposedly rendering the bees calmer and easier to work with.
For rooftop beekeeping, check to make sure your roof is strong enough to support the Beehaus which can weigh as much as 300lb in the summer when it has lots of bees in the box and lots of honey in the supers.
When keeping bees in your garden, an ideal spot is against a hedge or fence which will protect them from wind and rain. Position the hive entrance so that the bees can fly in and out in a straight line. A quiet spot in the garden, away from frequently used paths, is best.
Bees normally fly above head height at about 16 feet above the ground. You can encourage your bees to reach this height quickly by placing a hedge or fence a couple of meters in front of the hive.
It’s probably a good idea to let your neighbors know in advance that you’re bringing home the bees. Offering a jar of honey and letting them know their flowers will be pollinated might get them interested in and supportive of your new hobby.