Sunday, September 19, 2021

Some considerations before you are getting bees into your backyard

Where can I buy bees?  Well, right here:   Buying bees in Perth Western Australia

But, before you do that, lets have a look at a few considerations prior getting bees:

Allergies and allergic reactions to bee stings:

Bee stings can cause allergic local reactions and worst case anaphylactic shocks and is not to be underestimated and ignored when taking up beekeeping. It should be on your list to check with family members, members of your house hold, regular visitors and your neighbors if they indeed have allergic reactions to bee stings. If unsure its best to talk to your health care professional to find out about testing for allergies if you are concerned.

Western Australian Amateur Association had a great guest speaker on allergies and anaphylaxis which I suggest watching. The video initially has a sound issue but works after a few minutes. WAAS guest speaker on 
allergies and anaphylaxis

PPE and Tools:

There are a number of things that you will require when beekeeping some of them are as follows:

- Ventilated bee suit / bee jacket
- Gloves
- Hive tool
- Smoker
- Hive brand / branding tool

In warm climates such as Perth WA, we also recommend using a Neck / Sports fan as in our case it can avoid us overheating and being able to work longer prior being cooked to bits.

Also as we tend to have our phones with us at all times and have damaged a few phones by now while beekeeping we also recommend a way, how NOT to break your mobile phone while beekeeping.

Why its mandatory for us to ask you and verify your beekeeping license / hive brand identifier:

The rules for keeping bees are mandated and maintained by the Department of Primary industries. Any person wanting to buy bees is mandatory to be registered prior purchasing bees. Any seller selling bees to an unregistered person commits an offence by the law. Please have a read about the DPIRD rules and regulations here. Please also have a read of the Beekeeping Code of Practice to get familiar with the regulation.

Placement - Adjusting / managing the flight path / Council rules:

Where it comes to placement of bee hives in your backyard, please find our summary on some council rules found here:  WA Council rules on keeping bees - Blog entry

Apart of what you will find within the council rules such as restrictions and distances from fence lines and mandatory water sources and or the need to apply and application fees we would like to put your focus on how to potentially adjust your bees flight path. In some cases you may want to be observe them come and go, however without getting into their direct flight path you may want to introduce some minor hedge or similar as shown below. This can be either to get the bees up to a certain height just post exiting the hive, and / or to avoid getting the bees into your face or hair. If you put a boundary in front of the hives such that their approach and landing is above 1.5 - 2m you hardly have them in your hair while hanging up your washing or mowing the lawn and other gardening activities potentially.

Placement - Your neighbors kitchen window / outdoor patio lights / street lights etc

In some cases your neighbors kitchen window at night illuminates the landing board of your bee hive, which may or may not lead to interesting discussions. The same goes for things like your neighbors outdoor patio light on a warm summer nights, and people walking around bare feet, while the lights attracting bees into the lights, then burning their wings and dropping to the floor. A bee sting into bare feet during a nice summer evening is not a cool thing, they hurt quite a bit. Also council street lamps and lights may just shine enough to get some bees attention and fly out. If the light happens to be over a bus station or similar, then your bees may cause an an-nuisance.

Examples of adjusting your backyards bees flight path.

Hedges or natural vegetation options:


Less natural and temporary options until the vegetation has grown to serve the purpose.

Excessive wind, rain and heat / shade

Another consideration would be to plan your hive site to be outside of gusty cold winds, or at least have the hives protected by some form of a hedge. In summer you may want to consider placing your hives under a tree for shade, just to avoid the bees overheating and helping them reduce the stress during hot days. The other benefit will be that it will be less hot inspecting your bee hives and moving around in the bee suit on a summer day.

Fuel sources around your bee hives, clearing the work area of flammables:

It is best that you clear all fuel sources a few meters around the base of your bee hives.
Keep in mind you will be using be smoker having embers drop to the floor without you even noticing. Having a cleared area helps reduce the fire risk, but will not irradicate it!
Please be careful when operating a smoker and make it a habit not to place a burning smoker on to the ground. We recommend putting it into a metal bucket when not actively used to avoid any issues arising. We do live in a very dry climate, hence we would like to remind you to be very careful.

Allow a bit of wiggle room:

What we mean by that is to give you plenty of space to work around the hive. Keep in mind some of those loaded honey boxes can get fairly heavy, and hence you may need to be able to get to them from multiple sides, and or even have a second person help you lifting them off.
Its probably easiest if you have 1m to 1.5m clearance from all sides, also trying to avoid placing them directly adjacent to a wall or similar, you are just not going to make yourself a favor.

Water sources:

It is mandatory to keep a water source maintained when keeping bees. Also please ensure you put up your water source PRIOR getting your bees and ensuring it is maintained reliably. Bees tend to use reliable sources and lock on to them rather finding water sources on a daily basis. If you pool happens to be the first reliable source they find, that's where there will go. This also includes your neighbors pool...

Please have a read of our blog entry around water sources and options here:

Water sources and some options

Heavy rain / flash flooding / flooded areas and bee hives:

Well we just discussed water sources, so this may just fit in right here. A hive site which may look good in summer, may flood in winter during excessive rainfalls. Just keep that in mind, and probably plan to keep the hives off the ground 10-20 cm.

Manual handling! Bee boxes are very heavy!

Manual handling in beekeeping is a big thing, many beekeepers have done their backs in the past, just one word of caution! It usually happens when things need to go fast, or when you had an entire day of beekeeping and "just want to finish". Be careful of your back!
There is probably plenty of Occupational Health and Safety guides about manual handling on Youtube to guide you on how to properly lift heavy weights, please ensure you do some research on how to do the right thing.

Training and education about bees:

Do you have the necessary training and education to host bees in by backyard?
The reason why we ask you this question is, that you will have to perform a minimum of 2 annual bee hive inspections where as you will literally rip out every single frame to inspect each and everyone for pests and diseases, this is mandated by DPIRD rules.
Training around pests and diseases can be found here helping you identify the nasties.
Also we would like to direct your focus to who organize heaps of training for the "New-Bee" and older bee which may have forgotten some of the pests and diseases, we highly recommend the WAAS organized training sessions.


Fire Ban days and alerts:

We recommend checking the emergency WA website a night prior your intended beekeeping activities during the hotter month of the year, reading the website after 18:00 at which times the Fire Ban advise should be out for the next day. Also probably keep an eye out on the local weather forecast, over time you will get a feel for what you most likely could expect to see in regards to what type of fire ban will be imposed, however please verify this prior you lighting the smoker.

We have noticed our-self that in some cases, HARVEST VEHICLE and HOT WORKS BAN or Total Fire Ban's are being adjusted and changed at short notice during the day.
This can happen if the conditions change, and or all fire services are already engaged in fighting fires nearby. We found that 
most councils have systems in place to let residents know of changes in fire ban declarations. You basically just need to sign up to your local councils Fire Ban Advise service.

Below example is sourced from the Shire of Toodyay:

This is how the text message will look like on your phone:

In our case we have signed up to ALL council notification system in which boundaries  we tend to operate within, ensuring we are briefed and or can change our plans if that may be required at short notice.

Not that we hope you have to deal with bush fires, but we find this website to be very informational during the hotter month, and serves as additional information to the WA Emergency website during the hotter month hence we mention it here:

Mean bees:

Bees are not "always" fun. Occasionally even the "friendliest" of hives can go rogue.
Occasionally in spring and or in colder weather some "friendly" hive can turn a bit sour.
Also sometimes it may not be visible what the stress causing this change of temper, sometimes its pests and diseases or things like ants, or humans which excessively open up the hives to often.
If you you happen to have a really really nasty bunch even 3 weeks later, its probably best to re-queen your hive. If we don't forget we will update this blog entry adding a direct link on "How to deal with mean bees" at a later stage.
Our bees are "usually" fairly friendly, and even if things get heated calm down fairly soon after closing the hive. You want to avoid having bees in your backyard which chase you or your neighbors back into their house! If that's the case, you will have to act. Consider getting advise of a bee buddy from WAAS, and or contact a queen bee supplier for a new queen, or probably best by doing a combination of both.


What to expect when picking up bees for the first time?

Well well, now we are getting a little closer to the fun. We had been documenting What to expect when picking up bees here., which will bring you a step closer to having your first backyard bee hive. Please feel free to have a glimpse of what is about to happen!


And this is just a small reminder on where you can be 
Buying bees in Perth Western Australia

Happy beekeeping!



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Some considerations before you are getting bees into your backyard

Where can I buy bees?   Well, right here:    Buying bees in Perth Western Australia But, before you do that, lets have a look at a few cons...