Character leaning against question markSo you’d like to keep bees. You’ve read, or perhaps experienced how awesome beekeeping is and you’d like to give it a shot. However, you have a small property or you’re worried about having bees in a residential area. Fair enough. I was in the same boat. So, how can you find somewhere to put a beehive?

Start with friends and family

If you don’t personally own a chunk of land that would be suitable for beekeeping, perhaps you already know someone who does. Check with your friends, and friends of friends. Maybe you have a coworker with a piece of land just outside the city? The best thing to do is to talk to people, get them excited about bees (in my experience, that’s not very hard), and then ask if they know anyone that would like to have a beehive on their property.

Ask a farmer

Most people – especially here in Canada – only live a short drive away from a rural area, filled with fertile land and plants that are just begging to be pollinated by honeybees. If this sounds like your area, then I have a suggestion that is almost certain to help you find a place. This plan comes with a 90-day money back guarantee, given you follow my directions precisely:

  1. This Friday night (put it in your calendar), sit down and draft a friendly letter to a farmer. Introduce yourself, and explain that you are beyond excited to keep bees, and you’re currently looking for somewhere to put a hive or two. Ask if they would be interested in having bees on their property and let them know that you will take care of the bees completely on your own, and require nothing of the farmer other than their land. Keep it short and sweet. Just about any farmer will understand the pollination benefits of having honeybees nearby, and many farmers actually pay people like you to come and install hives. The fact that you’re offering to do it for free should be enough.
  2. Don’t forget to include your contact information (Name, phone number, email address) on the letter.
  3. Print off about 20-30 of these letters. Stuff them in envelopes.
  4. On the weekend, get into your car and start driving out into the country. Whenever you see a farm, a property, or rural area that has good potential for your apiary, pull over and drop a letter into the mailbox on the side of the road. For an added touch, write the farm address on the outside of the envelope so that it has a personal feel for the recipient.
  5. Do not go any further than you would be willing to drive every time that you would inspect your bees. Remember you’ll have to drive there and back for every inspection.
  6. Come home and wait by the phone.

I must be honest… I haven’t personally used this tactic for finding a home for my bees, but this is only a small variation for how I found a home for my own family – dropping off letters in mailboxes. The hardest part is getting up and doing it, but once you’ve done it, you stand a very good chance of finding somewhere to put a beehive. Possibly even multiple locations.

In closing

One other point that I would like to make is that you should not be fooled into thinking that keeping your bees in a rural area is better for the bees. It’s often the case that urban areas are in fact better. Why is this?

Rural areas are often farm land, and farms are often mono-crops. In other words, only one type of plant would be available to your bees. If you surround your bees with a few kilometres of corn, they are not going to do so well, especially if those crops contain harmful pesticides. In the city, avid gardeners make it their mission to provide a variety of flowers that bloom from the first thaw in the spring to the first frost in the winter. This is perfect for bees, so don’t be afraid to consider the possibility of setting up a rooftop or backyard hive. As Luke Dixon puts it, “If you have room for a composter or water barrel, you have room for a beehive.”

Good luck, and please share your own stories about how you found a location for your apiary in the comments below.