If you are lucky enough to have a large enough yard to practice beekeeping with a hive or two, you are probably aware that you need to maintain the area around your beehives. Maintaining areas around beehives can turn into a tricky situation, especially if you’re a new beekeeper. Can you mow around a beehive?
You can mow around beehives, and most bees will show a minimal reaction, as long as you are cautious of how you mow near the hive. When moving around your beehives, always wear a bee suit, and plan your route. Refrain from using chemicals near the hives, and electrical mowers will work best.
You can mow to the edge of a beehive in most cases, as long as you don’t bump it with the mover. Mowing around your hive is the perfect time to read your bees’ temperament. Read on with me as I discuss how you can mow around your beehives without the fear of getting stung!
Moving Around Beehives
There are quite a few reasons why beekeepers want to mow around their beehives. Many beekeepers believe it makes their apiary more aesthetically pleasing.
If beehives are in a visible location, they could quickly look messy and overgrown if it’s not maintained or moved regularly. Not only could it become unpleasing to the eye of the beekeeper, but friends and neighbors as well.
People are automatically more supportive of endeavors when it is done in an organized way. Some beekeepers may also choose to mow around their hives as it could become more challenging to get access to the hives and reap honey if the grass is too thick and tall.
Several beekeepers prefer to harvest honey during the mornings, and the grass is likely to be covered in dew.
This could make the job much messier than it needs to be, and most beekeepers like to keep the honey harvesting process as uncluttered and hassle-free as possible. Keeping your area free of weeds and grass will help with that!
Your bees will never be bothered, no matter how tall or thick the grass around their hives becomes. The only benefit of moving the grass is more the involved beekeeper.
Most bees won’t take an interest in you while you are mowing, but if they start flying toward you when you reach about 20 to 15 feet away from their hive, it might be a good idea to back off for a while.
However, if the bees are going about their daily chores without taking note of your activity, you should be fine and can gradually move closer with the mower.
Things To Keep In Mind When Mowing Around Beehives
When it comes to moving around your beehives, you need to be aware of some crucial things before you can start.
First and foremost, make sure that you never bump any beehive with your lawnmower. Be sure to direct any grass clipping so they won’t be accidentally thrown into any beehive’s entrances.
Also, never allow any exhaust fumes from your lawnmower to blow into a beehive. If you have a walk-behind lawnmower, you can push it all the way in front of the beehive while you stand to the side, keeping a safe distance.
That way, if your bees get agitated or aggressive towards the source of the noise and vibrations, you won’t be caught in their flight paths. Unfortunately, you will not be able to distance yourself safely from the mower if you have a riding mower.
Many experienced beekeepers tend to wait until their bees have gone to bed in the evening and then cover all the hive entrances so the bees will not be able to get out in the morning. This will allow you more than enough time to mow around the hives and do any other yard work early the following day.
You can simply let them out when you’re done and things have calmed down again. However, for most beekeepers, the easiest solution to mow is while wearing a full bee suit, while some only prefer to wear a veil to protect their head and face.
Although this can be seen as an overly cautious approach, it is much better than getting stung by tens of angry and defensive bees.
Once you have observed how your bees react to the vibration and noise of your lawnmower a few times, you will gain more and more confidence in what will work in the future.
After a few mowing sessions, you can wear less protective clothing as you get to know your bees. It might be good to keep in mind that it is never advised to use string trimmers around any beehive.
Lots of beekeepers have reported that their bees react negatively, and it is more often than not caused by the high-pitched motor. This irritates bees much more than a lawnmower, and with string trimmers, it could be next to impossible to control where the cut grass is thrown.
This increases the chance of some clippings getting into the hive entrances by accident. If you keep these few tips in the back of your mind when you start thinking of giving the grass around your beehives a mow, you are ready to start the mover!
How To Mow Around Your Beehives Like A Pro!
When you’re in the process of moving around your beehives, you need to keep in mind that each bee colony has unique characteristics and will react differently.
However, you probably already know how aggressive or docile your bees are, so let’s discuss how you can mow around your beehives like a real professional beekeeper!
Use An Electric Lawnmower Near Beehives
Gas-powered lawn mowers are never a good choice to use around beehives, as they give off fumes that will trigger your bees’ need to protect their home.
According to recent studies, the exhaust from a lawnmower alone is more than enough to send a swarm of bees in your direction. Bees dislike the smell very strongly, and it causes irritation to their eyes and bodies.
Gas-operated lawnmowers also vibrate much more than electric lawnmowers. The vibrations will immediately agitate the nearby beehive, making it much more dangerous for you as the beekeeper to mow the grass near them.
Weed trimmers, electric lawnmowers, and other electric tools can be much more beneficial when you need to get rid of the grass around a beehive.
If you have a riding mover, it would be best to make sure the deck is on. Riding a mower without a deck will send grass clippings all over, including the hive, which will bother your bees.
Never Underestimate The Power Of A Bee Suit!
Whether you use an electric or gas mover, you need to keep in mind that you need to take safety precautions. Bee smokers, also known as bee suits, are a must-have for any beekeeper, especially when things have the potential to go south.
These clothes protect a beekeeper’s torso, neck, and head, from not only bee stings but wasps as well. You can choose to go the extra mile and wear pants, gloves, and boots to ensure the rest of your body will also be safe from bee stings while mowing around bees.
Bee suits are always handy if you agitate a beehive. While most bees won’t resort to swarming you while you mow around their hives, it is always better to be safe.
Use A Weed Eater To Edge
If you don’t want to mow too closely to your beehives, you can resort to using a weed trimmer. The electric trimmers would be the best, as they won’t create as much noise or vibrations as the gas-powered trimmers.
The best way to angle the weed eater would be at a 45-degree angle away from the beehive. Using weed eaters to cut the grass around beehives is much better and easier, as you can control the speed and direction.
You can also be more precise with what you cut than you would be with a lawnmower. Many movers have decks that will prevent them from getting too close to those edges, and a trimmer would have no problem getting in those small nooks and crannies!
Keep All Grass Clippings Away From Beehives
When grass clippings fly around the yard, it could cause bees to swarm. Of course, no beekeeper, including myself, wants to deal with thousands of grass blades in their home, so neither would the bees!
However, there is some good news. If you mow with a trimmer, you can point it in the opposite direction and follow it with a lawnmower with a low-sitting deck. Moving the lawn around your beehives may rip many flowers apart, including flowers the bees intend to pollinate.
You need to be prepared for them to swarm around if you cut their food source. It might be best to avoid moving the lawn around your beehives first thing in the morning, as most foraging bees sleep at night and are active during the mornings.
It would be good to wait until they have flown out of the hive looking for food. After mowing, it would be best to dispose of the grass clippings as soon as possible. Many bugs can live in piles of grass, including ticks, and they could use it as a home, attracting other pests and predators to a nearby hive.
Never Use Harsh Chemicals Near Your Beehives
One of the primary reasons why beekeepers lose their beehives is not because of their mowing techniques.
These beekeepers may not even be aware of the reasons, but it’s because most lawn chemicals can cause the death of bees. Although some yard treatment solutions are very popular, they are terrible for beehives.
As a beekeeper who loves their bees, such as myself, I think it is most important to stick to natural powders and sprays for the grass around your beehives.
Plan Your Mowing Route, And Take Action Fast!
Although you should always set out a route when you’re moving any piece of lawn, it becomes even more critical when you’re doing it near your beehives.
Your main goal is to spend as little time as possible near your bees, mainly because it may disturb them, causing them to become overly aggressive.
Are There Alternatives To Moving Around Beehives?
If you want to lessen the chances of aggravating or annoying your bees while mowing around their houses, you could update your landscaping technique.
You can completely remove all grass close to your hives and replace them with other materials that will not require noisy machines to install or maintain.
If you replace grass with gravel, flower beds, or even paving stones, you won’t have to be worried about disturbing your bees with a mover. If you’re looking for an easier option, you can install a weed barrier landscape cloth around your hives.
A weed barrier will keep weeds and grass from growing. If the grassy area around your hive isn’t too large, you can also consider pulling the grass by hand.
A manual push mower, also known as a reel mower, would also be a good choice since it does not have a motor or generate any fumes or vibrations.
Some beekeepers prefer to use herbicides on the vegetation close to their beehives, but if you go this route, just make sure you use one that is 100% safe for your bees.
As a last alternative, you could also install a flyover barrier. A flyover barrier will significantly reduce the chances of you getting stung by your bees while you’re trying to engage in some yard work.
Flyover barriers are usually roughly six feet high and are always placed near the exit of a hive. Their primary purpose is to direct the bees upward, so their flight path chances make them unlikely to encounter or sting you.
Now that you know that it is a possible and easy task to mow around your beehives, you are sure to have some success when you practice some of these methods.
Remember, it all will depend on your bees’ temperament, and if your bees are aggressive, you might have to resort to some alternative choices. Happy beekeeping!