Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

How much room do I need for a beehive?

The beehive itself is approx. 50cm long x 40cm wide and can stand between 60cm to 1.2m high depending on how many honey boxes it has on.  We need about one square metre of area to place and be able to work the beehive.  We usually stand to the side of the beehive to open it, and need enough room around it to be able to lift the lid and top boxes off, and place directly next to where we are standing, so we can inspect the frames of bees.  The boxes when full can be up to 40kg each and so we avoid any extra manoeuvring or carrying to minimise back and arm injury.  Overhead trees and hedges etc need to be kept trimmed above and in front of the hive so as not to shade the beehive, but also so we have room to work without the branches and leaves getting in the way.  We carry secateurs,  and can trim and prune any plants back, when we do our beehive checks.

What happens when bees are first delivered?

Bees will gradually leave the beehive and fly in small circles around the hive entrance. The circles will get ever increasingly bigger and further away from the beehive entrance. This is so the bees can get their bearings and orientate themselves to their new surroundings. After 2-3 days, the bees will be familiar with their new home and fly in straight lines to there closest nectar source, ie your vegetable garden or fruit trees.

Why are my bees acting strangely?

Bees are complex little insects and there are many behaviours they display. It’s not unusual to see a small clump of bees around the entrance of the bee hive. On hot days and humid days, bees will cluster at the entrance to fan in cool air to keep the beehive cool. However, on cooler days, you will see less of the bees coming and going. ​On these days, bees will stay inside the beehive and cluster within the frames to keep the queen and young bee larvae warm at a constant 35 degrees Celsius.

Can I open the beehive to have a look inside?

The lid should only be lifted off if you are with a Backyard Bees beekeeper and we have suited you up in beekeeping overalls and gloves. Bees are extremely susceptible to changes in temperature, and opening the beehive can cause undue stress on the colony. Disturbing the frames can be detrimental to the Queen bee, particularly if she is lost or crushed, or her laying patterns are interrupted. Any of these can cause the hive to fail. Obviously we wear a bee-suit when opening a beehive, as their natural instinct is to protect the Queen Bee by stinging predators.

Why is the honey a different colour and taste?

The flavour, colour & texture, of honey depends on which plants and flowers the bees gather nectar from. This can change during the honey season as different plants come in & out of flower. However it is also dependent on the climatic conditions, at the time. For example, Manuka, flowers around December in our area, but if the season is colder and wetter, than normal, the bees may miss collecting nectar during this period. As a result, honey collected from the same beehive can taste and look quite different from previous years.

Does the honey I get all come from my beehive?

During the honey flow season, we collect the honey boxes in suburb batches. These are extracted in a registered honey extraction plant and put into bulk drums to be honey tested. Once honey is confirmed safe for human consumption we then decant into food grade bulk pails or 500g jars. The honey you receive will be from your beehive and the beehives from your surrounding area.

When do I pay for my beehive?

The yearly rental runs from 1st August through to the following July.  An invoice for the year’s rent is sent out at the start of July.