Urban beekeeping

Apiculture urbaine

With the decline of populations of honeybees across the planet, urban beekeeping is more popular than ever. For the past few years, the number of beehives installed in north american cities is in constant progression. Only in the region of Montreal, it currently has around 1000 hives !

If you want to make a gesture for the preservation of honey bees, in addition to the planting of nectar-rich flowers and install a hotel designed to attract pollinating insects, you can consider sponsoring a hive city. This allows on the one hand to combat the decline of honey bees while educating them on the benefits of these insects, their mode of life and the techniques of maintenance of an apiary.

It is important not to confuse the honey bee with the wasp, much more aggressive than this one. The latter has a hairless body very close between the abdomen and thorax, unlike the bee has a hairy body and plump, without a constriction near the abdomen.


However, it is important that you get a hive with an experienced beekeeper who specializes in urban beekeeping in order to prevent various problems, including the spin-offs, and above all, to avoid that there is too much of beehives arranged in a same place where resources are limited, which could have a negative impact on the species of insects native pollinators.

For example, some companies specialized in urban beekeeping are the rental of hives. In addition to providing the training, these companies to some essential maintenance work, including the extraction of the honey at the end of the season and the overwintering of the hive.

Regular maintenance

It is essential that the bees have a continuous access to a clean water source near the place where is located their hive (water garden, pool, etc). When this is possible, it is desirable to install the hive near a natural water source like a river or a lake. In all cases, it is necessary to avoid that the bees will cause inconvenience in being attracted to pools or other water sources in the vicinity.

Caring for a colony of bees are not very complex and time-consuming. It comes to conducting visits to the apiary, at intervals not exceeding 15 days. In some critical periods, such as during the season of swarming, for example, visits should be a little more frequent. Keep a journal in which you describe briefly what the time you have completed the visits and what activities have been carried out.

Perform manipulations in the hive when the temperature is favourable, in the late morning or early afternoon, in sunny weather. Proceed as quickly as possible, while remaining calm and disturbing the bees as little as possible. To decrease the aggressiveness of the bees, do not perform any manipulations in the hive when there is a lot of human activities in the vicinity, or by cold and rainy weather. Use a smoker and protective clothing when handling.

Bee in the process of gathering a flower

Finally, it is very important to prevent swarming, a phenomenon in which the queen and part of the worker bees leave the hive to form a new colony. The best way to avoid this problem is surely to ensure that the colony will never be a lack of space. Replacing the queen regularly also helps to reduce the risk of swarming.

Too many bees in urban areas ?

  • We can certainly rejoice in the development of urban beekeeping. However, some experts are wondering if the territory has sufficient resources of nectar and pollen to feed bees newly arrived and native pollinators that occupy these spaces ever since. The cohabitation is possible ?
  • The biologist Frederick McCune, who has devoted his master’s thesis on the impact of urban beekeeping on wild bees in Montreal, urges caution. However, the results obtained have shown no negative effect on the native bees, which suggests a possible co-location.

Of the bees in your yard

If you want to breed honey bees in your home or on the field of your business, you should first check with the authorities in your municipality if the regulation allows for the installation of beehives on its territory.

It is also essential to respect provincial regulations regarding the location of hives. As well, the hives must be placed at a minimum distance of 15 metres from a public road or a house. However, it is possible to place a hive near a street or a residence located on a plot surrounded by a fence full of at a minimum height of 2.5 meters.

Moreover, it is compulsory to register your hive with the ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and to affix a registration showing, in indelible characters of at least a centimeter of height, and your name and address.

Hives arranged in rural areas.

The number of hives must be determined on the basis of the reserve of nectar available. If there are too many hives in one location, this may have a negative impact on the species of native bees. Thus, it is absolutely essential to take into consideration the other hives are installed near. This is why it is preferable to make the installation of your hive in collaboration with a beekeeper specialist who will know how to use the tools at its disposal to locate the other hives.

It is necessary to have a hive in a place that was sunny and dry, sheltered from the high winds. It is also very important to place it in a quiet environment where there is little activity, so that the flight path of the bees does not cross places where frequent movement of people. In urban areas particularly dense, we can install a fence or shrubs high enough to direct the flight path of the bees to more than 2.5 metres from the ground and make the hive less visible in the neighbourhood.

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