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Does anyone locate their hive on a rooftop?


#1

I do not yet have a hive but am interested in becoming a beek and in having a Flow Hive. I have a small yard at my house that is fully landscaped. For a variety of reasons I don’t really have a convenient location for a hive.

So I am considering a hive on my roof. I know that in urban areas some beeks have hives on their roof. I live in a mild temperate climate near San Francisco, California. It never snows. A few days a year the temperature might get down to 29F for a few hours in the early morning. In late summer occasionally temps get over 90F. 95F is almost unheard of.

I have a single family (detached) 1600 sq ft home. About a third of my roof is flat. The surface color is off white. It is not shaded at all. The edge of the flat roof is only 9 feet high and easily accessible using a good extension ladder.

My concerns are:

– The hive might overheat in late summer, and there is nothing currently on my roof that I could use to attach a shade cloth to, though conceivably I could rig up something.

– During a winter storm winds could exceed 50mph (rare here, but possible). I do have some vent pipes that I could drill holes in and attach lightweight cables to and secure them to the hive through eyebolts screwed into the frames. Or maybe I secure the hive roof piece with cables that pull downwards slightly and have a clip on each cable so I can easily disconnect them. In that way there would be downward pressure on the entire hive.

– In 20 years I might not have the physical ability to climb up and get down from the roof (but for the near future this is not a concern, so it is last on this list)

Any other concerns I should have, or ways to deal with the first two issues listed?

A rooftop location would seem to have definite advantages for me:

– No alteration in the appearance of my carefully landscaped small yard (a trivial issue to some, but important to me).

– People moving around my yard will not disturb the bee’s flight path.

– I can easily orient the hive so that the opening faces east and is unobstructed (not easy to do in my small yard).

– The hive will be safe from the raccoons, skunks, and squirrels which frequent my yard, and will likely not be exposed to mice or rats either (my house has no attic and its design is such that it is unlikely that rodents will be on the roof). Ants are also unlikely to be on my roof.

Thanks.


Video Camera In The Hive?
#2

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#3

Great idea regarding the concrete blocks. If I ran two straps so they put downwards pressure on the roof that seems like it would withstand high winds. The straps would have to have a “quick release” type buckle.

However with straps I probably should use a flat metal roof instead of the very nice looking Flow Hive pitched roof. The straps would slip off the pitched roof. Or maybe not if I positioned them diagonally, crossing over each other.

Great suggestion!


#4

A well insulated hive in poly might withstand both heat and cold.


#5

You seem to have pretty well broken out the challenges to a rooftop hive. It will boil down, in our area, mostly to securing it from the occasionally stiff winds we get off the Pacific. I don’t think the peaked roof will be an issue. Go OVER the peak and cinch it down tight. If it is loose enough to slide off for some reason it will not hold the hive securely in a big blow. Cement blocks for a base sound like a good idea.

Citybees does a lot of rooftop bee keeping. You might contact him for advice.

http://www.citybees.com/index.html


#6

We interviewed Meg Paska who wrote a book all about this called “The Rooftop Beekeeper”

We discuss issues facing rooftop beekeeping. The interview can be found HERE

I think issues such as access, strong winds are all to be considered.

I would recommend you tie down the hives, just in case the roof blows off.

I can’t imagine how hard it would be move a full hive down a ladder, so you might want to consider how long you are going to living at the location.

On the plus side if you have Small Hive Beetles, I understand that having a hive on solid surface prevents them being able to breed. As the beetles leave the hive to lay their eggs.

See ya…Gary


#7

Hi @ecarfan, sounds like you have a perfect spot to put your hive for the next 20 years. Any cosmetic issues people are currently having shouldn’t be a problem. You could simply place your hive on a cement block stand so that the hive is a good level for you to work. Don’t worry about your hive overheating with your roof being off white. Don’t worry about tying your hive down, the weight of it will be sufficient to hold it in place. Propolis will hold your lid in place. I’m in a frequent high wind area & the only thing that knocks my hives over is cows:) I don’t tie my lids down, if I have freshly painted lids or boxes, I’ll place a brick on top until the bees propolize the lid to the box. In nearly 28 years with an average of around 40 hives during that period, I’ve never had a lid blown off. We get lots of summer storms with severe squalls. Also we’ve been on the edge of some serious cyclones during that time. If your not worried about maintaining the cedar finish, I’d paint the hive white, especially the lid to help keep the hive cool during summer.


#8

We have two hives on our roof in Carlsbad, CA. Been very hot here, but bees are fine with that. Can’t imagine it’d ever be too hot where you are!! Sometimes, it’s a bit windy for inspection, so if you can concoct a wind break, that would help. We built stairs up to our roof in the back. Have not had to move the hives (they are off the surface of the roof of course) but my hubby is strong, so… lucky me.
Only issue to consider is where the dead bees blow down off the roof. They pile up at our back patio doors, so we’re working on a screen on the roof to solve that. It’s great for dealing with the neighbor/flight path issues for sure!
So, of course I think the raccoons discovered the handy stairs, but they have not disturbed the hives at all. Keeping an eye out for that. No ants up there either. Hope this helps.


#9

They are quite common on posh shops/corporate buildings in London
Here are Fortnum and Masons

And instead of Peregrines, Manchester Cathedral has beehives on its roof


#10

i also live in southern california and have a pretty small yard and a great roof. i have cats, and the only possible location is right up against the fence, which is the cat highway. so, i have this nightmarish thought of one of the cats jumping onto the hive to get down on the ground.
here are my questions:

  1. how are you getting your hive(s) and equipment up on the roof? carefully carrying them?
  2. do you have a permanent ladder installed? (i can’t do it because my access is in the patio. plus, i don’t want to leave a ladder for potential burglars to get into the higher windows of the house.
    i’ve researched folding warehouse ladders that have railings and seem the most stable and useful. i have a 9+ ft. roof, so i would need at least a 10’ ladder.
    thanks.

#11

Friend 2 miles away does - but he is used to climbing - Fireman. he uses a ladder and puts it up when he needs it


#12

I keep mine on my roof. It’s gently sloping, so I had to build a hive stand to suit.

  1. I originally carried the empty boxes and frames up and set it up there, so lots of trips up and down the ladder. For inspections it is easier as it’s all pretty small equipment. I light my smoker up on the roof (it means the smoke is not blown into my neighbours faces - I live on a small block too (hive is 10m from neighbours houses)). I have carried a full 8 frame box of honey down a couple of times but that’s not for the faint hearted.

It would be difficult but not impossible to take the hive down.

  1. I leave my ladder up against the house. I don’t have a 2nd storey for burglars to break into.

I’m definitely very happy with my installation.

  • the bees don’t go into my neighbours gardens, except to get nectar, pollen and water (make sure you have a good water supply on your property)
  • my kids can play in the whole garden, even during and after inspections, without needing to concern themselves with a beehive
  • I have a skylight just out the entrance of the hive and so I can see them busily going about their business from my kitchen.

There are a couple of downsides.

  • the access isn’t as easy
  • the roof is slippy in wet weather
  • I suspect the bees sense my approach more readily due to my footsteps vibrating the roof. If I’ve upset them during a hive inspection, I can’t get on the roof for a few hours without them coming and checking me out.
  • it’s not easy to retreat if they get upset.

#13

If the cat is the only reason for putting the hive on the roof, I wouldn’t do it. If cats are as quick at learning as dogs are, they’ll quickly learn to keep clear or run past it fast.

The downsides that @Dunc listed would be enough reasons to keep it off the roof.

I think right up against the fence would be the ideal spot. Even if you had to use extra palings where the hive is so bees don’t fly directly into next door’s yard.


#14

I agree with Jeff
Cats are smarter than dogs and will find a way round.
Then it will make the whole thing much easier for you and make you much less visible to your neighbours when checking inside the hive.
Good luck


#15

Check your local regulations before you put it up against the fence. I don’t know where you are in SoCal, but San Diego city has very specific rules about how close you can put a hive to your property boundary. Chances are that your City will specify that too. Of course, if your neighbor doesn’t mind, and nobody complains, the City will never know… :blush:


#16

My firey friend uses a pully platform to raise and lower things.

I could have one on my flat roof only it is North Facing in the house shadow with access through my bedroom window - I did put a bait hive there but the wind blew it off - there is a corner gets sun 1/2 the day.

I would love to have a hive there if it got better sun and would keep a local cat off my roof who uses my roof as and when it pleases


#17

Having a hive on a commercial roof is a very different prospect to putting hives on a residential roof. I am in full support of hives on commercial rooftops with adequate access, but on top of residential dwellings/garages/sheds really is a disaster waiting to happen.

I have seen hives on multiple occasions left on rooftops neglected because access is awkward and enough hassle to deter regular inspection. You often find new beekeepers placing hives on a roof of a garage/carport before fully understanding the amount of ongoing maintenance that is required.

Add to that the weight of full honey supers, and rangling those across a rooftop and down a ladder. Even with the flow used to harvest, the weight of the hive needs to be considered. Many hives go up in pieces and are assembled on the roof but never come down due to the sheer weight.


#18

Before we put two hives on our rooftop - we went through the same checklist of concerns. What we’ve learned in a short time is that wind, sun, rain and other weather has not proven to be a problem. Even in the middle of summer with multiple 100 degree days in a row, our bees were still extremely active and did not seem stressed at all. We use screened bottom boards and slatted racks. When the bees did beard, it was pretty minimal. This will be our first winter and we intend to put up a moderate wind screen using burlap and will probably wrap the hives as well.

I think the bigger concern is weight on the roof top as was pointed out by RBK. Our flat roof will tolerate a couple folks walking around on it, but two (or more) honey laden hives is a lot of concentrated weight. We handled this by building a small deck spanning the brick load bearing walls of our row house. Took us longer to engineer the thing and buy lumber than actually build it.

You can get a look at it in the “Meet the Beekeeper” video MIrabai shot at our place in early July.

Good luck and enjoy!