Friday’s article “Commission abuzz with a honey of a problem,” highlighted the concerns our neighbor, Marlena Skeens, has about the honey beehive located on our property. I would like to address the safety concerns she mentioned and provide a little more insight on the gentle nature of honey bees.
The lay-person may easily confuse honey bees with other types of insects, but they are – behaviorally and physically – quite different from the more aggressive yellow jackets and wasps. Different insects have different types of venom, so while a person might be allergic to a yellow jacket’s venom, they may NOT be allergic to another insect’s sting. Furthermore, honey bees only sting as a last resort or if they feel their colony is in immediate danger. We tend to our beehive, sometimes wearing only shorts and a t-shirt, without any issues, and our 3-year-old son runs around our backyard (where the hive is located) barefooted and has never been stung.
Prior to installing the hive, I attended several beekeeping classes, read beginner’s guides, met and discussed with experienced beekeepers, and we positioned the hive according to all of the suggested guidelines. The hive is entirely enclosed by fencing, the bees are not directed toward any dwellings; we supplied several water sources on our property, and their flight path is diverted from walkways by the aforementioned fencing and bushes. I realize that it is relatively close to the property line; however, we have offered to relocate the beehive and were still met with adamant opposition.
Our leading reason for beginning beekeeping was for the benefit of our environment, as it is common knowledge that the bees are in danger from modern ways of living. We have three young children and we felt this was one small way that we could help ensure the future of their planet. It saddens me that we have had to go to these measures to do so.