A local beekeeper told a similar story. A person in a nearby town decided to get a hive and put the hive together in winter, with the plan to stock the bees in the spring. He put the empty hive in his yard in plain sight. A neighbor called the city claiming to have been stung by the imaginary bees. The person could not be persuaded that this was not a problem, and the hive owner got into a legal fight with the city over keeping bees that led to a $2,500 bill for legal fees.
My main concern is that my conduct, in reality, not hurt or harass my family or neighbors. However, it is just as important that I not have people get all wound up for no reason. This will be no fun if even if the neighbors have IMAGINARY problems and complain.
Despite the out-of-sight, out-of-mind concept, I am still leaning towards putting the bees next to my house next to my house, facing my house, in the side yard. Prior to these posts, I never thought about facing the hive to the house. If I do that, how much space needs to be left between the house and the front of the hive?
In that location, the hives would be visible, but only from my next door neighbor's yard and then only through a few holes in the shrubs. The main thing is that guy does not even live there. Also, he kept a large dumpster in his yard for about 1.5 years, let his yard grow up with brush, let his wood fences rot till they literally fell over and had a bunch of trash in his backyard when the fences fell. I never once complained, because I think he has other issues that were causing the problem. He since cleaned up the yard somewhat, but I have not seen him in months. He also has no kids and does not go into the yard much. Bottom line, I don't think he will realize I have bees, will not care and would not be in a position to gripe too much about anything.
I have also considered building a little, removable picket or lattice fence to go at the edge of the flowerbed and further obscure the hives.
The only problem is that when I work the hives, which is when the bees actually will be upset, I will be wearing a veil and there will be no way to really hide what I am doing.
However, I ran this by my wife, and she is worried that bee swarms will bother her when she gets out of the car. We park in the driveway, but we could park about 15' in front of or in back of the hives and avoid walking right in front. Based on experience, when there is a nectar flow, will there really be so many bees flying that we will be bothered 15 ft from the hive, even with the hives facing the house? From what little I have seen, bees don't get too upset about what's going on behind the hive. Is that really the case?
I have inspected one beeyard and helped the owner (who is teaching the beekeeping class) to feed his bees. Those bees were calm as can be, and there were not so many bees flying that it would bother anybody. However, we were just feeding and it was only about 70 degrees and not many flowers in bloom. I just don't have a good feel for what a hive is like when the bees are getting after it or invasive work is taking place.
I suppose I could just do this and move the hives someplace else if the neighbors go nuts.
Thanks for the very, very helpful input, and I would still appreciate anybody's thoughts.