We are officially beekeepers! Even better, we just provide the land (...and a running stream, wildflowers and clover) and an expert beekeeper who actually knows what he's doing does the rest.
We had 25 hives
placed today at the back of one of the hayfields. It's behind the fenceline & tucked up against the timber, so they're totally out of the way. In fall when the horses graze those fields, they'll just have to learn to avoid that one place (shouldn't be hard, with 25 other acres to graze.) The bees just arrived today, so they're a bit stirred up and I didn't dare get closer than in the picture. Even here I had quite a few bees come over to just kinda.... check me out. The beekeeper said once the clover starts blooming, they'll have a job to do and pretty much just ignore you. But until then, they are a bit bored and looking for something to do... and you don't really want to be the thing they focus on.
One challenge may be that the beehives are placed in prime morel hunting ground. So we may have to suffer a little in order to get our morels this season. Anyway, they're fascinating, can't wait to learn more about them.
Our payment for hosting hives: more honey than we'll know what to do with. (hello, xmas!!) Our beekeeper gave us an advance deposit consisting of a 1/2 GALLON of honey, plus several flavored honey spreads. YUM
This guy actually advertised on craigslist that he was looking for hosts, so it was easy. Mr HH has been interested in beekeeping for awhile now, but getting all the equipment and trying to learn it on our own seemed daunting.
Just about every area has beekeeping clubs you could contact. Here's a list of NYers
In terms of physical location, he wanted a spot with lots of southern sun, not too much exposure to NW winter winds (we have tough winters), reliable source of water within a few hundred yards (even just a perennially boggy stream bed-- they like still, shallow water) and flowering plants. sheltered from wind.
There are a ton of books and online resources, and another beekeeper I met was very encouraging about learning-as-you-go. He laughed and said "Look, what's the worst that can happen? Some bugs may die or fly off to live somewhere else, and you get more and keep learning. Just not the end of the world."
We keep bees, HungarianHippo, and I wander around the hives all the time and don't get stung. So long as you aren't loitering directly in the flight path to the hive entrance you'll probably be just fine.
They are quite interesting. I love what your beekeeper friend said! When we buy new hives and packages it's a large investment for some bugs. It's VERY frustrating when idiot neighbors (the ones you've attempted to educate) dump pesticides all over everything or you end up with dead outs for no discernible reason...frustrating when small hive beetles set up shop or varroa mites try to take over. Nothing has made me more frustrating than keeping bees!! BUT - the benefits far outweigh the negatives and there is ALWAYS something to learn. The books are great resources but it's like riding...nothing takes the place of just doing it for years and years. As one of my beekeeping friends reminded me when I was struggling over some queen behavior issues, "The bees haven't read any of the books! Learn from them!"
Like Finzean said they shouldn't bother you too much when you are looking for your morels. Bees tend to be less active on cold/windy/rainy/overcast days, so that might be something to think about when you are going near the hives. It's actually quite fascinating to see the difference in activity outside of the hive depending on the day/weather.