Your Very Own Swarm of Bees? Hosting a Hive is a Sweet Deal
Local honey, improved garden and fruit tree yields, and higher quality produce make beekeeping a rewarding as well as educational hobby. And the hive hosting program from Nectar Bee Supply in Corvallis lets locals reap these rewards without investing in expensive equipment or handling any bees. That’s because Nectar sets up the hives, maintains them, and harvests the honey for hive hosts.
“We do all the work and split the honey with them at the end of the season,” said Jen Larson, one of the owners of Nectar Bee Supply. “They pay a fee at the beginning of the year, covering our labor, and they get all the benefits of bees in their yard.”
The annual fee is $380 or about $32 per month. It sounds a little steep but premade beekeeping kits cost over $200 dollars online and they don’t come with bees. That cost also doesn’t include the labor of setting up or maintaining hives.
Unlike commercial pollination businesses that move bees around all year following different agricultural blooms, hosted hives stay in place the whole year and benefit the entire neighborhood.
Not everyone might be happy to have hives in their neighborhood. Bees are known to forage up to two miles under normal conditions. They can go two or three times as far though if food is scarce. When Larsen was asked about dangerous allergies, she said that although they get asked about allergies all the time, they “do not check with prospective neighbors,” citing the unlikelihood that adding a hive would drastically increase local bee presence.
Nectar Bee Supply doesn’t put hives just anywhere. “We talk to the homeowner and make sure that they understand what it’s like to have bees,” Larsen said. “We’ll take a look at their yard and make sure it’s adequately screened and fenced from neighbors, and make sure there’s a good place in the yard to put them.”
Just in case though, they carry beekeepers’ insurance. One of the hives they host is in a public retail space at Shonnard’s Nursery, which requires extra insurance.
On the up side, it’s a great place for prospective hive hosts to check out a hive in person and see if they might like to host one of their own.