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Author Topic: Beekeeping in My Garage?  (Read 2190 times)
StevenSlaughter
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« on: April 11, 2009, 06:00:17 PM »

Hello All.

As one who is very eager to begin beekeeping (urban, in my case), I have one big question: where to site my hive. I searched before starting this thread and found one on a similar question, but the thread got off onto other topics, so I didn't quite find the answers I was seeking. If this has been addressed in a different thread, please feel free to direct me there. Anyway...so here it is:
 
Here in Chicago, we have very narrow lots (25 ft.). We have already added a few chickens, which was my last nutty idea that my wife resisted at first but now loves. We also have three kids ten and under, plus a garden. We really do not have a good place to site a hive in the yard. I've thought of nearby places -- our church rooftop, etc. -- and there are a couple of possibilities, but nothing really great or easily accessible. I'd have to use ladders to come and go, which is not ideal. It makes me wish we had a flat garage roof.

Would it work to site a conventional hive in a garage? We have a 2+ car garage, but only one car. The other side is used for my workshop, bike storage, etc. Would it work to site it near the large door with tubing of some sort as the entrance? At the Chicago Botanic Gardens, they have an observation hive, and I was surprised that the tubing for the entrance was quite long (maybe 6-8 ft.). It went way up to the rooftop, presumably to be overhead and out of harm's way from visitors. I could do the same thing, running the tubing up overhead and then outside.

Would this work? I know that observation hives use the same method. They are also made to be sealed, so that that the bees can't get into the house. If the main entrance of a conventional hive was connected to the entrance tube, would there be any other way for the bees to get out into the garage? I'm just trying to think through any deal-breakers in this idea. If it were sited right next to the large door, work could be done with that door wide open, or perhaps it could even be gently rolled out (if the hive was set on a cart on wheels) for inspections. Would it be too hot in a garage during the summer? Would it require added ventilation? The garage door side is south-facing, so I don't know which is preferable. In the other thread, the potential problem of fumes from cars starting up was mentioned, as well as lawnmowers, etc. We don't have gas-powered equipment like this, and we are not constantly coming and going. (In fact, during the summer, we often don't even park in the garage. I do use the garage for a workshop, so there are times when there would be loud power saws, etc. Would this noise be agitating to them?

Anyway, not sure if this will work, but I'm scrambling for other possibilities, so if it won't work, perhaps the next question would be, Do you have any experience keeping them in unconventional places?


Thanks very much,

Steven Slaughter
Elementary Teacher
Chicago Public Schools
Chicago, IL
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Steven Slaughter
Elementary Teacher
Chicago Public Schools
Chicago, IL
mrslaughter@inbox.com
StevenSlaughter
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2009, 06:11:43 PM »

One other possibility comes to mind...

I think my wife's primary concern is this idea of bees buzzing around everywhere, in a small yard, esp. with the kids. Understandable. But couldn't the idea of using an extended entrance work on an outside hive just as it does with an observation hive? If I rigged up something like this, I could perhaps site it in the back of the garden, against the detached garage. I don't have a photo, but basically, the lot is 25' wide, with the deck off the back of the house about 40' from a garage, creating a 40x25' yard, with the garage as the back "wall" of the lot. It is flush with the W side lot line and there is a 4' arbor running along the E side, leading to the gate out to the alley. So, if the hive was against the garage wall (which would be the N side in the shade), and the entrance was some sort of tube leading up toward the roofline of the garage, wouldn't this eliminate the concern about the bees being down in the kid zone as they come and go? I would place it pretty much centered on the lot to keep it away from neighbors. I think my wife might go for this...especially if it had one of those cute gabled garden hive tops that I've seen.

Once again, I submit these ideas for your wisdom, experience, and consideration.  smiley

Itching to get started,

Steven Slaughter
Chicago
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Steven Slaughter
Elementary Teacher
Chicago Public Schools
Chicago, IL
mrslaughter@inbox.com
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2009, 07:43:17 PM »

For a short period of time last year, I placed a weak hive in my garage with an entrance through a 1 1/4" pvc ball valve and clear vinyl tubing extending out through a board placed in the garage window.  Just be sure to seal them up except for air vents.  To inspect Close the ball valve, disconnect the tube from the valve and place a rag in it.  Then take the hive out by the window entrance to open it.  Same thing we do with our eight frame observation hive.

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hankdog1
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2009, 10:27:53 PM »

the only problem i see is having to carry a heavy hive outside for inspection.  wouldn't it be easier to find a friend a short distance away from your house that will allow you to place your hives there?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2009, 11:52:24 PM »

The problem I see is the same as already mentioned.  Basically if you inspect while they are in the garage a lot will be in the air inside the garage and once you put the lid back on they can't get back in.  If you have to take it outside then it's a lot of work to inspect.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2009, 10:28:29 AM »

To make it easier to take out to inspect I just left mine strapped to a cheap Wal-Mart hand truck.  The kind that you can put the handle in such that it rolls on four wheels.  Then just rolled it outside with no problems.  But it was only a  single deep.   
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MustbeeNuts
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2009, 10:35:01 AM »

I think you should make a dog house with a hinged roof on one side. Put it out in the back yard and it won't look like anything hazardous. The neighbors will think your gettin a dog, but figure you changed your mind. You can lift the  hinged side of the doghouse to examine and do stuff. If you don't wear gear no one will ever know. you could wear goggles for your eyes. LOL  And the house would protect them in the winter months too.
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DixieBee
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2009, 08:53:44 PM »

I don't know if your climate would make a difference but here in Fla it seems hives in shady areas don't do as well as those getting more sun... Maybe it's a humidity thing.

Allan
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StevenSlaughter
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2009, 11:16:57 PM »

Thanks for the comments so far. I really appreciate it. As for inspection, I definitely see what you mean about the problems of inspecting inside the garage. I was thinking along the same lines of keeping it on wheels. Basically, I was just thinking of building a sturdy platform with large locking rubber wheels on the bottom. It would be a wide enough to be very stable. I would site it right next to the large door and it would only need to be wheeled about three feet. Then I'd close the door to inspect and work out in the alley.

I don't really think it would be an issue with neighbors. After all, they've gotten used to having chickens only a few feet from their open windows. Also, the city is pretty friendly on such things (chickens are 100% legal to raise in the city -- though not in most of the suburbs -- and the mayor has put hives on the roof of city hall in it's tremendous rooftop garden).

I'd also appreciate your thoughts on the other alternative I mentioned: siting it out in the garden, but building an extension to the entrance -- a tube (like with an indoor observation hive) running up overhead to minimize the number of bees buzzing down at kid-level. Any problems with this? It would be mostly shade, with ambient light.

Thanks again,

Steven
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Steven Slaughter
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Chicago, IL
mrslaughter@inbox.com
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2009, 05:04:32 PM »

If you are in Chicago, go to the Cook/DuPage county beekeepers association.  There area quite a few Chicago beekeepers there and could help you out. 

There are several private schools that have hives (I know one in Rogers Park-N. of Evergreen Park), and a few community gardens.  There is one community that has 5-7 hives just N of downtown, near Lincoln Park Zoo.

I'm sure you can meet someone there from Chicago.

Next meeting is this Saturday in Downers Grove.  Look them up on the net.

http://cookdupagebeekeepers.org/default.aspx

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StevenSlaughter
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2009, 12:24:09 AM »

Thanks for the info. I am glad to hear about some folks near Lincoln Park Zoo. The school where I teach is just a few blocks from the zoo, so they'd be right in the neighborhood. I'll look into it.

Steven
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Steven Slaughter
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mgmoore7
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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2009, 08:37:34 AM »

My backyard is about the same size as yours.  I have the back 1/3 cornered off with a picket fence for my garden and hives. The kids regularly play in the rest of the yard.  My son (8yrs old) waters the garden everyday within feet of the hive.  Only once has one of my 5 children been stung and that was when she was barefoot.  Sometimes bees are dying and crawling around.  If you step on them, they may sting.

The bees generally fly out and up fairly quickly.  I am about 6' tall.  If I am within 5 feet of the hive (where the white hydrostackers are), I may get some bees that will run into my head.   

This is not a current picture but might give you an idea. 
http://img141.imageshack.us/img141/3820/hives.jpg

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StevenSlaughter
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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2009, 10:17:46 PM »

Thanks for the photo. What do you grow in those funky hydrostackers? Are those strawberries? Are the hives sheltered from direct sunlight by those hedges, or just for a short part of the day?

Steven
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Steven Slaughter
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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2009, 11:21:25 PM »

I have tried a few times in a few different places to setup beehives inside a garage, a barn, and a 2nd story barn.  It hasn't worked well. 
Some of the problems:
1. Bees inside the building that cant find their way back into the hive and sometimes clusters of bees gather inside of the windows.
2. Not having the morning sunlight on the front of the hive.
3. Moisture problems from lack of sunlight.

I now have a great location for a hives just inside the front of my woodshed.  If you can picture a south-facing garage with the overhead doors wide open year-round.  They are about a foot inside of the dripline of the roof. They are protected from the rain, snow and north west winds and they get just a bit of protection from the western sun in the summer.  Most of the day the sun shines on the front of the hives. This is about 25' from my backdoor.
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2009, 11:50:40 PM »

I would suggest putting the box outside but use fences or other flight obstructions to get the bees flight path above head level.  If you can find a way to do this (say 4'x6' area with 7' tall fencing) AND still let in morning sun/ southern exposure, you should be good to go.  Somewhere I have seen pictures of a "stealth"  trailer w/ plywood sides/ open top that someone uses for this purpose in urban areas/ southern california?  If I recall correctly it may be user "odfrank" at beesource.com forums.

If you want an indoor hive build or buy a regular observation hive.  check out michael bush's web site for info on this.

Once the bees are flying at that height, you shouldn't have any problems, unless they get really really worked up.
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mgmoore7
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« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2009, 05:53:04 AM »

Thanks for the photo. What do you grow in those funky hydrostackers? Are those strawberries? Are the hives sheltered from direct sunlight by those hedges, or just for a short part of the day?

Steven

I grow lots of stuff in them.  The are awesome and work great for small vegi plants.  Strawberries, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, herbs, bell peppers, broccli, green onions and more..  I grow tomatoes, pole beans, carrots, cabbage, pumkin, cantelope, bell peppers, peas, bush beans, watermelon in the earth boxes.  With these two growing methods, I can glow alot in a small area, use comparitively small amount of water, continually cycle/plant, no weed picking or tilling required....
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mgmoore7
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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2009, 06:00:09 AM »

Are the hives sheltered from direct sunlight by those hedges, or just for a short part of the day?

Steven
The hives have direct sun most of the day.  The ideal would be all day but I don't have ideal, so I deal with it.  Smiley  Any less sunlight and the small hive beetles would probably be a real issue hear in FL. 
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StevenSlaughter
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« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2009, 09:35:52 AM »

These is more of a newbie question, but I'm a bit confused about the heat issue. While I get that bees like it warm, at the same time, isn't it already quite warm (sunlight or shade) in Florida? Couldn't direct sunlight in very warm climates turn an enclosed box like a hive into an oven? It just seems like they would overheat, and that shade would be a regulator to moderate the heat. I know this is just my own lack of understanding, but it does seem counter-intuative.

Steven
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Steven Slaughter
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mrslaughter@inbox.com
Michael Bush
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« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2009, 12:30:43 PM »

Bees cool the hive with water and fanning.  It's evaporative cooling.  Bees invented air conditioning.  Dee Lusby's hives are all in full sun in the desert.  If there is water nearby they actually make a good crop of honey.  If not then they spend all their energy hauling water.

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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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StevenSlaughter
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« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2009, 12:43:06 PM »

So even in the hottest places, it is still optimal to site them in full sun? Wow! This is surprising (to a ignorant fellow like me). Intuitively, it seems that giving them some shade would give them a bit less need for cooling, allowing them to save their energy for other things, like honey production.

Steven
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Steven Slaughter
Elementary Teacher
Chicago Public Schools
Chicago, IL
mrslaughter@inbox.com
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