It is very possible to keep honey bees in crowded suburban areas, on the tiny city, lots, or rooftops in large or small cities without encountering problems. However, to keep bees successfully in a populated area requires a good understanding of basic bee biology, property rights, and human psychology. Beekeepers in urban areas and cities need to manage their bees so they do not become a nuisance to their neighbors.
Understanding the circumstances under which bees will bother people, beekeepers can take precautionary measures to prevent circumstances so their bees do not create a problem and become a menace. Almost anywhere there are flowering plants that produce nectar and pollen, honey bees can be kept there. A discrete site for beehives should be chosen, sheltered from winds, and partially shaded. Low spots in a yard where cold, damp air accumulates in winter should be avoided.
Beekeepers should be considerate of non-beekeeping neighbors and hives should be placed so high that bee flight paths do not cross sidewalks, playgrounds, or other public areas. Bees should be provided with a water source in the yard to prevent them from seeking out water at the neighbour’s swimming pool or water spigots.
The following are some of the minimum standard precautions for keeping bees in residential areas.
- There must be no more than three hives of honey bees per lot size of a one-quarter acre or less.
- In a situation whereby a bee colony is situated less than 10 feet from a property line, the beekeeper must establish a flyway barrier which should be at least 6 feet tall and extend 10 feet beyond the colony on either side. The flyway barrier can be solid, vegetative, or a combination of the two that forces the bees to cross the property line at a height of 6 feet.
- All bee colonies must be located at least 25 feet from a public sidewalk, alley, street, or roads.
- An adequate source of water within 25 feet of the hives at all times must be present on the site of all apiaries (especially between March 1st and October 31st).
- All bee equipment and hives must be in good condition at all times.
- All colonies must be kept in portable frame hives in accordance with N.J.S.A.4: 6-10.
- All colonies must be inspected by the beekeeper in no less than three times between March 1 and October 1 of each year.
- A substantial barrier or fence must be built to prevent animals and children from coming into close contact with the hives.