When we decide to start raising honey bees, one of the things we need to consider is the safety of our other animals or pets. If you have a large property, you can easily put your hives away from the other animals. But the problem surfaces when you have a smaller yard, so you have to figure out a way to keep your pets and bees safe while they all share the same area.
For most of us, our pets are part of our family, and we consider their safety just as we would consider our own. The good news about keeping bees is that it is perfectly safe to keep bees in an area where dogs and cats roam. The one exception is if you know that your dog or cat is allergic to bee stings.
Do you have cats, dogs, or other pets in your bees’ presence? Are you wondering if it is completely safe and what you could do to make it even safer? Ask no more, as you will read everything about keeping bees and pets in the same yard!
Raising Honeybees With Dogs And Cats
Just like some people, some dogs and cats can have severe allergic reactions to bee stings, and that reaction can be fatal. So if your dog or cat has already been stung by a bee and had a severe reaction, it would not be wise to put a hive with thousands of bees in the same area. Fortunately, fatal bee allergies are extremely rare in dogs and cats.
Most likely, if your dog or cat wanders near your hive and happens to get stung by a bee, they will run off and lick their wounds. One bee sting is usually enough for your cat or dog to learn to stay away from your hives.
It is important to know that if you do have a dog or cat, they need to be able to run if the bees get agitated and decide to take it out on them. Bees never just randomly get agitated. Something needs to trigger them to make them mad.
For example, maybe somebody would mow their grass, and some grass would blow into their hive entrance, or maybe a raccoon is trying to break in. If something happens to agitate your bees, you definitely don’t want your poor dog or cat to be the victim.
If you keep your dog chained up or in an outdoor kennel, you will need to rethink your decision of keeping bees nearby. If the bees swarm your dog, there would be no way that he will be able to get away if he is confined on a chain or in a kennel. Furthermore, if your bees swarm your dog and repeatedly sting him, it could be fatal, as many bee stings around or in the nose and mouth area can suffocate them.
Raising Honey Bees With Chickens And Other Livestock
When it comes to raising bees around the chicken and larger livestock, it shouldn’t be a problem. The key to raising bees and livestock is to divide the two parts using any kind of fence; even a wire fence would do the trick. Chickens aren’t the smartest animals in the world, but surprisingly, they know better than to snap at the bees as they go in and out of their hives.
If you have hens, they will probably like to scratch and eat the “trash” the worker bees remove from the hives. This will actually benefit you and your bees, as it helps to keep pests like roaches out of your hives. It is also good to have a few chickens hang around your hive when you have to clean wax moth worms out of an infested beehive.
Let’s say that a rogue bee stings your chicken. Bees are only able to sting chickens in the eyes and on the wattle. This, of course, would be extremely painful! However, bees seem to tolerate chickens even when the chickens are scratching around their hive.
The same issue is relevant to chickens, just like it is to dogs. If you decide to keep your chickens in a coop rather than letting them roam freely, you will need to have some distance between the coop and the hives. It would be best if you made sure that the entrance of your beehives is facing away from the coop.
Chickens love the wax combs, so try never to leave the frames unattended when you remove them from the hives. Imagine coming back to a hen-pecked honeycomb if you are lucky enough to have honeycomb left at all! Luckily beeswax is digestible, so if your chickens eat a bit of beeswax, it isn’t something to worry about; just don’t let them feast on it.
The same rule that applies to dogs and chickens applies to larger livestock. The biggest thing you need to make sure of is that the animal would be able to get away if a hive gets agitated and decides to attack.
It would be best to keep your hives away from large livestock or put a fence around the beehives. The main reason for this is that larger animals can knock hives over very easily, which is not nice for you or your bees!
If you live on a smaller property and want to raise honey bees along with your pets or livestock, you can consider putting your beehives on your roof as some urban beekeepers do. This will successfully ensure that your livestock and pets can’t get to the hives while giving your bees the room they need for coming and going.
Protecting Your Bees
It is easy to worry about keeping your pets and livestock safe, but what about your stinger friends’ safety? The biggest danger for bees that are raised with pets and other livestock is the water sources.
Of course, every animal needs water, and the larger the animal, the larger the water source. However, bees can easily drown in these water sources, so it is crucial to keep safe water sources for your bees.
By keeping bee-safe water sources, your bees will not go and look for other water sources and then drown in them. You can easily make safe water sources for your bees by adding rocks to birdbaths and twigs in water bowls!
Will Bees Attack A Dog?
Bees can be quite a sting operation. (Get it?) and if they start stinging, you have no other choice but to be prepared for your dog’s sake. There have been multiple reports of dogs getting attacked and dying because of one or just a few bee stings.
When bees attack, it is most of the time to protect their hive, if not all of the time. When bees sense that their hive is in danger, they will do anything to protect it, even if it means dying.
Bees get agitated by a sound or a color or something that has provoked them. So something as simple as your dog barking or children playing could aggravate them, and then you would not want your dog around.
The only other scenario that your bees will attack your dog out of the blue would be when a hive is swarming. Swarming happens when their hive gets a little bit too full. The hive will then produce another queen, and when mated and mature, the young queen will leave the original hive and take some of the workers.
Because it is a whole group of bees flying and searching for a new home, they will get agitated easily and sting anything that comes in their way, even if your poor dog doesn’t deserve it and is simply just running past them.
Signs Your Dog Has Been Stung:
If you are with your dog when bees attack, you will definitely know. You will probably notice him jumping up and crying out, rubbing his eyes or mouth with his paws, or biting at the place he had been stung. If you didn’t see a bee physically sting your dog, you should look for swelling or look at his actions.
He may also be scratching or chewing where he got stung. Bees are quite smart, and they will usually sting a dog in a less hairy spot like the underbelly or nose. They can also sting in hairier areas, but it is less likely for your dog to feel it. For example, if your dog was snapping at a bee, you might find a sting inside his mouth or in the ear area.
If you think your dog has multiple bee stings, you need to take him to your local vet. It would be best if you take him as fast as you possibly can. The severity of the situation depends largely on the degree of swelling and whether you know if your dog is allergic or not to bee stings. If it is your dog’s first bee sting, the best idea would be for you to take him to the vet, as it could be a life-threatening emergency.
If severe, the following signs will appear in the first 5 to 30 minutes:
- Excessive drooling or salivation
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Difficulty breathing, even if your dog wasn’t stung on his mouth or nose
- Collapsing or fainting
- Pale gums
- Mental change or any other form of abnormal behavior
About Africanized Bees
If you live in an area that has Africanized bees, you will want to be extra vigilant in hive management. However, having Africanized genetics in your bees does not mean that they will go crazy and kill your pets and livestock.
Having Africanized genetics in your bees mean that they can be easily agitated, and in this case, you would want to give them extra space and keep animals far away from their hives!
As you have read above, there are many factors to consider when deciding how to start a honey bee farm. Asking questions such as what bees you should raise, is there enough room on your farm or in your backyard to keep your other animals safe, and even just where you should keep your hives will help you make the best choices for your bees and your other animals.
To sum it all up, the key to keeping your animals safe is to make sure that they will always be able to get away in case your bees get aggressive. To keep your bees as safe as you can, provide them with bee-safe water resources and keep large animals who can break or push their hives over, far away.
I hope you learned as much as I did while writing this article about keeping bees and other animals together! Bees truly are amazing and magical creatures, and we should keep them safe, as we would keep ourselves and our pets safe!