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Integrating Bees into a Suburban Habitat
We have had as many as 11 colonies of bees on our suburban one acre lot. Each hive should have a southern exposure to help warm it during the cold months so that the bees can get out on the warmer days. Do not place the hive where the flight path to the hive entrance will cross a part of the property that humans regularly use, such as a patio. If there is a fence or foliage between those areas and the hive that require the bees to fly over human head height, then you will not encounter the bees except on your flowers and when you go into their space.
Bees require flowers to make the honey they need to survive the winter. When you are planning new plantings of perennials, consider what plants the bees will like. If you search "Bee Forage Plants" there will be any number of web sites with lists of appropriate plants. Take the list to your local garden center and look for plants adapted to your climate.
Poisons of all kinds are a bad idea for reason we discuss elsewhere. However, having bees gives you a special opportunity to do the planet a favor by talking to your neighbors about systemic pesticides known as neonicitinoids. See the article on Colony Collapse Disorder. These pesticides are present in the plant tissue, which is why they kill anything eating the plant. They are also present in the pollen and nectar and will kill or weaken any pollenator eating the pollen or nectar. Bees will forage over a area up to five miles in radius so that gives you a huge opportunity to slow the poisoning of your habitat.
If you want to do something to help the bees, consider becoming a Bee Safe Neighborhood Coordinator and start asking your neighbors to end the use of systemic poisons.
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