Ok, to be perfectly honest, none of these places are particularly uncommon, or even unreasonable for a bee to live in. After all, what bees look for in a perfect home is fairly simple and specific and touches bases with bees’ needs. It’s just that these places bring them in a direct conflict with us – those are our places; we don’t want to share them with insects. Especially those with stingers.
Before I start in earnest, another disclaimer for Orange County beekeepers. I use the terms ‘hive’ and ‘colony’ interchangeably. Technically, a hive is only a construction, usually made by beekeepers, while a free group of bees lives in a colony. However, most people don’t know (or care) about this subtle difference, and use these terms interchangeably.
So, what does a bee want out of a home?
Bees are insects, fragile creatures that are not as adaptable to changes as mammals or birds are. Therefore, they seek places with a set of constant conditions for their homes. Listed below are some fairly important factors bees take into account while picking a permanent home.
Colonies start small, with just the queen and her first batch of workers. But they get bigger over time. For a beehive to thrive they need at least 4 gallons of space (m3), but preferably more than double of that, around 9 gallons (m3).
Ability to expand
Related to the previous section, bees need to have space to expand their colony; otherwise, when the colony gets bigger, half of them will swarm, leave the overly-small nest and cause all kinds of disturbance.
Bees have many enemies in the natural world. It is their instinct to remove the threats as best as they can. Putting their nest some 9 feet off the ground prevents any ground enemies from reaching them.
Easily defendable entrance
Speaking of defense, they are also likely to look for something with a bottleneck entrance, because it is easier to defend a smaller opening. And they do have what to defend; their young and that natural wonder – honey.
As for the climate condition, dryness is a really important factor for flying insects.
The queen never leaves the colony, and neither do the young. They need proper air conditioning to survive.
A nearby source of water
Oddly enough, bees don’t drink water, but rather use it in honey production, for diluting it. Still, water is necessary and the closer, the better.
Direct sunlight is somewhat damaging to the young, so they are likely to search for a darker place for their abode.
So, in nature, a hollowed out tree would be ideal. Alternatively, Beekeepers in Orange County have the perfect conditions for bees in their hives. However, in our increasingly urbanized world, many bees come into contact with humans. When I say contact, most commonly, I mean conflict. Here are some places you (probably) don’t want to see a beehive.
Randomly hanging from your tree
Even though it may not cover all the ideal housing conditions, it is not so uncommon to see a bee colony hanging from a tree. If, however, that is your tree, in your backyard where your children and your pets spend their time, you might feel a bit uneasy.
This is a tough one. If there are any structural defects in your walls, bees can decide to settle in the space between the walls and the insulation. If that happens, they can cause all kinds of havoc, and you need to get rid of them.
Your vehicle (especially your tank cover)
It’s dark, it’s small, it’s easily-defendable. In one word, it’s perfect for a beehive. Imagine going away for the summer. You may find an unpleasant surprise upon your return. Bees aren’t intruding on purpose, yet there they are.
On works of art
This was actually a deliberate process of one artist who decided to plant a colony of bees on a statue. You know, for art’s sake. Still, it looks surreal and somewhat alien and disturbing.
OK, so this one is a joke. There are plenty of people who have bees on their faces for show or fun. However, those are bee swarms, rather than colonies. Having a colony on your face would be slightly more uncomfortable than a swarm – only slightly.