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Beekeeping in Community Garden


I live in Houston, TX, and I’ll be setting up my flow hive in a community garden. I have a few questions and ideas I’d like to bounce of the community here. The head horticulturalist and the staff of the garden is very excited about setting up a beehive, but we’d like to do our research before setting one up. Especially, we’d like to know how bee hives function in similar community gardens. This community garden (2 acres) is part of larger garden (20 acres), which is adjacent to 500 acre urban green space. However, the place where I would set up the hive is only about 20 feet from a road with apartment buildings on the other side. The garden itself doesn’t use any pesticide, though the city might spray nearby. Does anyone in this community know of other bee hives like the one I plan to set up?

Also, a key part of this idea is public education. Especially in the city, kids don’t know where or how food comes from. How can we incorporate a bee hive into education about food, insects, and agriculture while maintaining a safe and healthy relationship between the general public and the bees? We’ve thought that building a fence around the hive with windows might be a good idea, but do you have any other solutions?


I’ve been to many community gardens that were just a lot or two lots in the city and had five or six hives on them. A fence is a good idea as once you get the bees in the air (over everyone’s head) there is less of a traffic problem. The problem with hives with windows is solar gain if you leave them open to the light. Windows are great as long as you can close them off when you’re not looking in them. They work much better with top bars and no frames as there is nothing to block your view. They work poorly with foundation as the foundation always blocks your view up until they build the outside frame and there usually isn’t that much to see there.

Here is a Langstroth deep with top bars and a window that I built:


Where were these community gardens?


All over the US. Mostly in large cities like Chicago but some in slightly smaller cities like Asheville, NC. None were in small towns.


Can you give any specific examples where you thought bees were integrated well?


The garden in Asheville was pretty large and the hives were just back away from the main path. The ones in Chicago varied. Most were just in the open. Some of them put up a six foot fence around them to get the bees over people’s heads.


Hi William, I live south of Houston, and I’m trying to get a couple hives set up at our community garden. Did you have any luck with yours? Did you find any resources online or other community gardens with hives for reference?


This is our hive at the Westminster Community Garden in San Diego, CA. I am willing to answer any specific questions if it would help you. :blush:

The hive has been in the Garden for 2 years, and apart from ant attacks, it has done very well. In fact this month it is the strongest of our 3 hives in the region. The fence you see around it is a mesh fence on T-posts with insect screen zip-tied to it to make a 6 foot high “flyover barrier”. Some gardeners are a little afraid of the bees, but we have had no reports of stings, and generally people are very supportive of the hive.

As we are in an africanized bee area (like you) we make sure that we have gentle Hawaiian-bred marked Italian queens, for the protection of the community.


Wow thanks so much!

Did you have to do anything special for permission to place the hive? Consent from the gardeners or written agreements? The parks & rec dept here has asked for any resources to help them consider allowing a hive or two.


Just common sense. Our garden is run by a church. We are not members of the church, and they don’t require us to join. We contacted the garden manager and asked what they would like us to do.

They wanted us to attend a garden meeting and present our concept, addressing any concerns. It was actually a real pleasure, as gardeners were curious and generally quite well-informed. We pre-prepared a handout with our plans, and compared what we intended with local city regulations. We also discussed the flyover barrier and our hive management intents, including that we would try to open the hives when most gardeners would not be in the garden, to avoid nuisance to members.

They took our information to the church governing committee, and after a unanimous vote in our favor, we were allowed to place our hives. We then had to sign the Garden Rules Agreement (donating 20% of produce, weeding the area, performing 20 hours of Community Service to the Garden each year, and paying $100 per year for water and trash removal services). No big deal, but I think it helps to be accepted as members of the Garden too.

If you PM me with your email address, I can send you the PowerPoint presentation we made.