When considering locations for new beehives, many people overlook their roof as a possibility. A habit that perfectly explains one of this locations best advantages: it is discreet. But what complications come with rooftop beekeeping and is this the right solution for you? Let’s explore the pros and cons of placing your beehives on the roof.
People are curiously oblivious to anything above our heads. So, when you place a beehive on top of a building it often goes unnoticed. This is an advantage in an urban or suburban setting because it reduces the chance that a neighbor will complain. Out of sight, out of mind!
Rooftop beehives will also have less of a presence in your own yard. The hive entrance is a busy place. During the day, a constant flurry of flying bees makes the area around a hive an undesirable location for anyone but the bees. When you place your beehives on a rooftop, this is no longer an issue. You don’t have to give over a corner of your property to flying bees. You also don’t have to worry about guard bees objecting to nearby weeding or rambunctious pets. The bees are literally out of your hair when they are placed on the roof.
Another advantage of rooftop hives is that they seem less plagued by ants and hive beetles. Both of these pests live in the soil so, it makes sense that you’d see less of them in a rooftop apiary.
Remember, if you put your bees on the roof, you will have to go on your roof, too. Regular inspections must be made. This usually means climbing a ladder and then marching around on the roof in your bee suit. The risk of falling off a ladder or roof is a real concern. Especially if your roof is slanted.
Beekeeping requires some heavy lifting that becomes even more challenging with height. With rooftop hives, you should expect to have to carry equipment up and down a ladder on a regular basis. Every time you put on or take off a super you will have to get it off your roof. Honey harvesting is especially challenging because of the weight involved. A super full of honey could easily weigh 80lbs. Even more tricky will be removing a hive of bees from your roof. If you ever need to get an established colony of bees off your roof, carrying them down a ladder isn’t even an option. They have to be lowered by rope.
In some areas, weather can also be an issue for rooftop hives. High winds might make foraging difficult for your bees or in extreme cases they could topple your hives. High heat may also be a problem for rooftop hives depending on the material your roof is made of and whether or not shade is available.
Another concern with rooftop hives is that you cannot observe your bees the way you could if they were at ground level. Observing the activity is not only fun, but it can be critical to managing your hives. If they are on the roof, you will have to make a conscious effort to visit them.
You can mitigate some of the height risks and complications of heavy lifting by building a staircase to your roof. If this is a possibility, I highly recommend it. You may even want to make a deck with railings to keep yourself from falling off the roof.
It is a good idea to secure rooftop hives with ratcheting straps. This will help to protect them in high winds. A deck with railings may also serve to shelter foraging bees from wind.
Despite all the drawbacks, rooftop hives have some big advantages for backyard beekeepers. Do you have rooftop hives or are you thinking of installing some? Leave a comment!