To bee or not to bee? Are you thinking about setting up a rooftop beehive? In an effort for us to save the bees, improve your vegetable patch or even to add a little honey to your life there are plenty of reasons why urban beekeeping is growing in popularity.
In the city, potential beekeepers might find it difficult to find the right space, especially when yards are scarce. Could you keep bees on the roof? Here are some of the pros and cons to roof space beekeeping.
Why It’s a Great Idea to Keep Bees on the Roof
Bees Are Awesome
Honey has been used since ancient times as both a food and a medicine. The structure of a beehive is one of nature’s architectural wonders. There’s been a surge of interest in beekeeping in the last decade, which means there is a strong community to tap into for support and plenty of information out there. Bees are useful pollinators for our plants, and of course there’s the hope of a batch of honey at the end.
Out of the Way
Bee hive entrances can be a busy highway. If you’re short on yard space, keeping your hive on a rooftop means bees can pass overhead where they aren’t disturbed, and are less likely to get in your way. Freeing up more space in your yard — if you have one. Extra bonus, even though they’re out of the way, they’re actually quite close by making it easy to check in on them each day.
If you’re short on space, a rooftop may in fact be the only place available!
Another great reason to keep bees on the rooftop is that they’re out of sight and out of mind. If they’re not in your neighbor’s way, you’re less likely to receive complaints from next door about your bees.
To strengthen this argument, you may consider placing hedges, fence panels or haystacks on the roof to keep them out of your neighbor’s way.
One idea for finding a suitable location for your beehive is asking the community about other rooftops. Any businesses, cafes, or restaurants in your area that have a rooftop space that’s not used publicly could likely benefit from the feel good factor of supporting beekeeping. The added bonus of course is the promise of honey to sweeten the deal.
Once you’ve found the right spot for bees on the rooftop, you also need to consider providing a generous and suitable water source. Fortunately, buildings are built with running water systems making it easy to provide safe, clean water for your bees.
Why You Might Not Want to Keep Bees on the Roof
Is Your Roof Stable?
Your roof may be great at keeping the rain out of your house, but is it also safe enough to be stomping around up there with a heavy beesuit on, carrying equipment, and keeping the hive?
Consider whether the roof in question is strong enough, to make sure you’re not putting yourself, your bees or anyone else in danger.
Lightly touched upon in our previous point, you want to make sure that your beehive is easy to get to. You don’t want to be hauling hundreds of pounds of honey and brood boxes up and down a rickety ladder. Make sure it’s safe to use the space, that the access is suitable for you and your equipment, and consider building a staircase if there isn’t one already.
How high up are we talking? If you’re putting a hive on the roof, do think about securing and weighting your hive because there is more wind on the roof than you realize. You won’t want your hives to be too exposed from either wind or sun.
Consider too how far up bees will need to fly. After 10 or 15 stories up, there is a lot of updraft and greater distance to travel. Consider also how much foliage is in the area, as the further bees will have to go to find this, the less productive a hive.
Finding a Local Beekeeping Group
Before you head out and buy up your equipment and hives, it’s best to make sure you have a good network of information and a mentor to guide you through the process. Research and contact your local apiary or beekeeping group, as they’ll have information and advice specific to the permits, laws and environment of your area.