If you want to keep bees in your back yard, then you should know that they can be successfully kept in the majority of populated areas and in many cities, rooftop beekeeping is already becoming increasingly popular.
However, when you want to keep bees in populated areas you need to be a bit more vigilant compared to when you'll want to keep them in a rural or isolated setting. Also, people don't really feel comfortable with the idea of someone keeping a few bee colonies in their backyard, so you might want to address this issue before keeping any bees.
When you want to keep bees in a suburban habitat, you should know that property lines can be an important consideration. It's not recommended to place the colonies near or on the property line in clear view by neighbors. You need to do your best and conceal them behind dense shrubbery or a solid fence. Basically, you need to place the hive in such a way that the normal flight pattern of the bees doesn't interfere with a clothesline, sidewalk or street.
Not only that, but good management practices are also vital. When you have neighbors, knowing how and when to manage them can make your hobby acceptable in their eyes or not. That is why if you want to avoid any arguments with them, you have to consider the following:
1. Register every year with your state's/provinces Department of Agriculture and abide by their Revised Code and its rules. If you need assistance or have any questions, you should contact the apiary section.
2. Keep the colonies with good behavior characteristics which sometimes may require re-queening.
3. Manipulate and inspect your bee hives when the bees forage. Since it will cause less disturbance, it will likely be considered more acceptable by your neighbors.
4. You should be careful as to not overpopulate an apiary location. For this you need to consider your available forage sources and your location. In general, a suburban apiary can support between 2 to 6 colonies.
5. The bees need to be provided with a constant supply of fresh water.
6. Practice swarm control.
Suburban and urban trees, landscaping and gardens can be a great source of nectar for your honey bees. Even in the hotter seasons, when wild nectar sources are not easily found, properly watered suburban landscapes can be a great forage ground for honey bees. However, you need to keep in mind that many suburban neighbors can use various types of chemical pesticides in their gardens and yards and this is not good news for any beekeeper.
That is why your bees need to be provided with a fresh water source near their hive. If you want to use an open water container, then you should provide floating pieces of mulch, bark or wood for the bees to land on while drinking or just fill it with rocks.
You should always be considerate of your neighbors and their property which means taking good care when opening your hives. If you can avoid disturbing your bees when your neighbors are entertaining in their back yards, relaxing or working, then you won't have any problems with them. Even more, since power equipment such as edge trimmers and lawn mowers can disturb them and make them act defensively, it's best to locate the bee hives away from these types of situations with your neighbors.
And of course, you can always go a long way with a jar or two of pure sweet honey and maintain good relationships with your neighbors who are wary of your hobby. Keep in mind that a preemptive gift of honey is much better than an honest apology after someone's been stung by your little flying friends.