The new Control of Animals Bylaw (152KB) states that you are not allowed to keep bees in a way that could cause nuisance, offence or potential injury.
If you are thinking about keeping bees, the following information will help you to run a successful hive and comply with the bylaw.
Starting with bees
Don't know if you'd like beekeeping? The best way to tell is to get some experience before you get hives of your own. You can do this with an individual beekeeper or by joining the local beekeeping club.
If you aren’t prepared to regularly manage and look after hives, don’t get any. Neglected hives are a nuisance to the public and a potential source of bee diseases. Hives will usually need to be checked or ‘worked’ by the beekeeper at least once every three weeks in summer and about once or twice over the winter months.
Bees forage for nectar, pollen, and water within a 3 kilometre radius of the hive. Too many bees in an area can cause competition for food. It’s recommended properties in urban areas have less than 4 hives to ensure there’s enough food and so that bee numbers do not become a nuisance or intimidate neighbours.
You should always speak with your neighbours before getting a hive.
To start beekeeping, you’ll need:
- a protective suit (usually a one-piece that includes a veil)
- gumboots, gloves, a smoker and hive tool
- an initial hive with four boxes
- a nucleus colony of bees with a new queen
- Apiary Registration with AsureQuality Ltd.
You should be prepared to initially spend about $1000 setting up your first hive. Two hives will cost about $1650 to set up. It’s recommended that you start with two nucleus colonies as an insurance against one queen failing. If this happens you can unite the hives or swap broods between them.
Flight path management
Hives should be positioned in a sheltered and sunny spot. Avoid placing hives close to the neighbours house or driveway, or near frequently used areas such as vegetable gardens, clotheslines, or children’s play areas. In residential areas, the hive should be behind a two metre high fence, trellis, or hedge so that the bees have to fly up and above anyone walking around.
Bees have small, round, waxy yellow droppings that are left in their flight path. Beekeepers sometimes get complaints from neighbours about bee droppings on windows, cars and washing. If this is a problem, try turning the hive so that the entrance faces a different direction or move it to another location on the section. But don't move the hive anymore than one to two metres per day otherwise your bees might get lost.
There should be water from a natural or provided source within several metres of the hive. This will reduce visits by thirsty bees to neighbours’ wet washing, swimming pools, and bird baths. Provide water by letting a tap drip slowly into a shallow dish of sand or pebbles, so bees won’t drown when drinking.
Bees should have access to a variety of bee-friendly plants and trees close to the hive. You can visit treesforbees.org.nz to find out more about what plants attract bees.
Although swarming is the natural means of dispersal of honey bee colonies, responsible beekeepers can minimise swarming in urban areas by re-queening on an annual basis, splitting a nucleus colony from populous hives (artificial swarming), and re-queening colonies that have been started from swarms.
Permission is required to keep bees on any Council land, such as parks and reserves. Applications are assessed by the Council, and may be granted subject to conditions. If your application is approved, you’ll need to pay a fee. For more information, please contact Council’s Parks and Gardens Officers.
It is not necessary to obtain a licence from the Council to keep bees on private land in Lower Hutt. Beekeepers are legally required to register their apiary with AsureQuality Ltd. This is so all hives can be monitored for exotic pests and diseases that can harm honeybees. Beekeepers must display their Apiary Registration Number at each apiary (usually on each hive). More information about this can be found at afb.org.nz.
Colony loss is estimated to have affected 10% of colonies in 2016. To reduce colony loss:
- In autumn, leave enough honey in the hive for the bees to eat through winter. There will be times the bees can’t forage due to bad weather.
- If all the honey is consumed feed the hives with sugar syrup. Make sure there is plenty for the bees to store.
- Control varroa, an external mite that feeds on honey bees and their pupae, with registered miticides in spring and autumn.
- Control wasps in the area with registered baits.
If your neighbour’s bees have become a source of nuisance, we recommend you speak with them about the situation. Issues can usually be resolved the most quickly by dealing with your neighbour directly.
If problems persist get in touch with us.