I live about a mile from the centre of Melbourne, Australia, a city of nearly 4 million people. My home has two stories, and not a lot of space, and no real front or back yard. I spent months trying to work out how I could get some bees home without the neighbors seeing, and without risk to my young daughter, and was nearly ready to give up on the idea when I hit upon this one...
We have a light well on one side of the center of the house, which runs from the ground to the upstairs living area. I decided I could build a platform that would place the bees at the level of the living room windows on the second story, without the neighbors being able to see, and without people being exposed to the bees (as long as the windows are kept shut!). This is at roof level of the surrounding homes, so the bees can fly from there straight to the flowering gum trees, with very little chance of flying into pedestrians at ground level. After much negotiation and convincing, the wife agreed and I got to work. It turned into quite a big project taking several weekends. I had to build the frame structure downstairs and had a friend help me lift it and lower into place before I finished construction of the platform itself. I over engineered much of it because it needs to be strong enough to hold some hopefully heavy hives, and me at the same time. I was able to use waste timber from local construction sites for much of it, so cost was negligible. It's over 15 feet high, and the platform itself is 4 x 5 feet. I am able to squeeze three hives on, with enough room for me to be up there as well. Access is via a ladder on the ground, or a narrow ledge on the second story.
I finished it a few days ago and put three hives on it. Now I can sit in my living room and watch the bees coming and going at any time which I have been LOVING! My daughter is in raptures, and even my wife thinks its pretty cool. A lot of friends thought I was crazy, but are now very keen on coming for a look, particularly those with children - I am pretty excited about the end result and about the chance to show a lot of kids what some working bee hives are like up close. When standing at the window they are only a few inches away from the hives.
Thanks to pdmattox who is about to put up a few photos of the end result.
End result (morning after being moved with a few branches to help with orientation):
Another view from inside:
Obviously the hives and a few other areas need a clean up, for starters I'll be putting fresh new lids on the hives.