Hi all, I work as an advisor to landlords/managing agents who are increasingly keen to place hives on commercial property - e.g. in spare meadow/ green areas on industrial parks, or on roofs of office buildings in London! They want environmental management points (when gaining ISO 14001 certificate) and to perhaps produce something for the benefit of the local community. Can you please direct me to a good source of basic general considerations for siting hives, and health and safety advice for users of land with bee hives? Obviously we would always use a competent bee keeper to set up and manage the hives, but site managers are asking me the basic things to think about when planning i.e. space needed, distance to keep public, signs required? That sort of stuff. Many thanks in advance.
One of my colleagues who does our H&S and Environment stuff went on a course and he was told that keeping bees on a work site ticks boxes for obtaining ISO14001 accreditation. However my view (from someone who keeps bees at work from time to time) is that just sticking some hives at the office should not be an automatic response. What would be better, in my opinion, is to create a habitat for bugs and such-like and then the environment in general would improve. So leaving scruffy places, planting native trees and hedges would be much better, and allow grass to grow dandilions and clover etc rather than cut it too regularly.
There have been reports that there are too many colonies of bees in some cities. This means that they would have to be fed and they would tend to 'crowd-out' any native pollinating insects that would otherwise feed on the food that the bees have taken. So too many bees would be detrimental to wildlife rather than benefit it.
However, if the location is good for bees then they could be sited. Vehicular access is really required - as hives and boxes of honey (if you're lucky) will need to be carried from hive to vehicle. And a weekly inspection will be required for several months of the year, so someone will trapse from car to hive in a bee suit with a smoker in his hand, and he might wander back with a bee or two on his bee suit. A beekeeping association should be able to advise on whether the location is good and members of the BBKA have liability insurance which might be useful to have. It would be worth having the beekeeper in control of any hives qualified to at least to BBKA Basic level plus, say 3 years experience.
And if I keep anything more that a small colony at work, I get complaints about little orangy-brown spots on peoples cars!
I hope this helps.