Have you been contemplating the addition of a honeybee hive to your yard and wondered if it would be safe to do when you own chickens? Once upon a time, I had the same question after I noticed that my garden was suffering from a low rate of pollination. I went all summer and could barely remember seeing a honeybee. The following year it wasn’t any better. My squash continued to blossom, but nothing was getting pollinated until I tried to do it by hand. Finally, I managed to get squash. It had lead me to the question- Can I safely raise honeybees and poultry at the same time?
The answer is YES! Not only can you keep chickens in the same area as honeybees, but they can mutually benefit from the arrangement.
What are some of the benefits?
When it comes to honeybees, the workers only live for approximately 6 weeks. Because of this, bees naturally die on a regular basis. If you watch a hive long enough, you will see what I like to refer to as the funeral bees. Other beekeepers refer to them as the house bees. This worker bee has the job of removing the dead bees from the hive and then dropping them away from the immediate vicinity of the hive. This is their way of reducing the number of dead bees near the hive which can indicate to honey loving critters that there is a beehive nearby. Chickens roaming around the area can help remove the area of the dead bees. This both protects the location of the hive, as well as gives the chicken a little tasty morsel.
Chickens will also clear the area of extra insects, including that of the hive beetle. The first year I had honeybees, I tried to keep my hives and chickens apart. In the fall I was so upset when I discovered that my hives were infested with small hive beetles. I found several spiders that were enjoying themselves to a daily bee buffet. My second year is when I combined my bee yard and the area where my chickens liked to roam. Currently, I am on year four with no further issues with spiders or small hive beetles.
In early Spring, before pollen is available to the bees, bees will seek out alternative protein sources. One source of that protein is that of poultry crumble feed. I learned that by accident my first Spring, but now I will buy my honeybees their own crumble to help them out while they wait for the blossoms to start coming out. Some feed and supplements contain Anise Hyssop. Anise hyssop is a favorite herb of bees!
What are the potential problems of raising the two at the same time?
Q– Any disease issues to consider?
A– There are no worries about potential diseases crossing between honeybees and chickens.
Q– Will they get along?
A– Chickens generally leave alone honeybees that are flying around. Honeybees will visit the poultry water dish to get a drink of water. If you do not want the honeybees visiting the poultry water dish, you can reduce the amount of visiting bees by setting out a water source closer to the beehive. They can be attracted to Apple Cider vinegar that is occasionally added to chicken water.
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