You love the idea of keeping bees on your property but you don’t know anything about them and don’t want to take on the added responsibility of caring for them. There are lots of beekeepers out there that are looking for people to team up with. They will keep the hive on your property and you get the benefit of pollination, helping save bees, and maybe even get a little honey.
However, learn from my bad experience doing this and take my advice before allowing a stranger to have access to your property – many times when you’re not at home.
- The best way to find a beekeeper is to get a referral from a friend that has been hosting hives for that beekeeper for at least a year. That way they are familiar with the level of maintenance that beekeeper did, especially during Spring when hives are getting ready to swarm. If you don’t know anyone, contact your local beekeeper association or club for a referral.
- When you contact the beekeeper ask them if they are familiar with the laws in your community. Also make sure to ask for at least three references. When you contact the references you’ll want to ask them:
- How long they’ve been hosting for this beekeeper?
- What is their experience has been with the beekeeper and the hives?
- Have they had to take care of any maintenance items because they couldn’t get a hold of the beekeeper?
- Have they had any problems with swarms from the hives?
- How often does the beekeeper come to do maintenance?
- How are the bees right after the beekeeper has left? Are they still relatively calm or are they aggressive?
- Is the beekeeper clean or do they leave garbage around the hives?
- Any other questions you feel are important.
- Location of hives
- What you would get in return (i.e. honey, wax, pollen, etc.) and how much.
- How long they are expecting to keep their hives on your property and how long you want them to stay. If the timelines don’t match up then you should consider finding a different beekeeper if they aren’t willing to meet your timeline.
- What and how much you will get in return for hosting.
- How long they are allowed to keep bees on your property. Think of it as a lease that can be renewed. You can make it month-to-month or a year long or 10 years long. Just remember that if it doesn’t work out it will be more difficult to get them off our property the longer the “lease” is. I would recommend doing something month-to-month or otherwise include a jerk clause.
- Set your boundaries. Are they to call 24hrs prior to coming onto your property? Are they to only be in one area of your property and no where else? Remember, this is a stranger that you are allowing access to your property.
- How often they are to come and maintain the hives at a minimum.
- And of course make it clear that if they don’t follow through with their side of this contract you may give them 30 day notice to remove their things from your property and if they don’t do so in the allotted time, their equipment will be considered abandoned and ownership will be transferred to you and they will no longer be allowed on your property.
- That the beekeeper goes onto your property at their own risk.
It may sound a bit paranoid, but with my experience (and a couple of other people I know dealing with similar experiences) with hosting hives I have realized you can never be too careful. Think of it as a job interview or renting a room to a stranger.