To Bee or Not To Bee?


During our trip to Savannah/Tybee Island, I got the unexpected treat of realizing one of the two items on my bucket list. (I am horrible about making bucket lists.) We wandered into the Savannah Bee Company on River Street to sample different honeys and started talking with the store assistant Usher. My son was interested in visiting the Mead Bar at their Broughton Street store and I was just interested in bees, period. I told Usher I’d dreamed of becoming a beekeeper for years and had done a little research into the beekeeping organizations in Cincinnati. He immediately honed in on my genuine interest and said that he could give us a tour of the Bee Gardens at the Wilmington Island site if we were interested. Were we!

I actually wasn’t sure whether anyone else in the family was interested in going. My son said yes immediately and my husband was on board. My mom and my daughter weren’t as sure, but decided that they could brave their fears, so we were all in. I called Usher and set it up. For $3/each, we got a more personal and intimate version of the Bee Experience that they often give to school groups.

Ted Dennard with his hives

Ted Dennard with his hives

We donned veiled hats and met Ted, the owner of Savannah Bee Company who was checking the hives at the back of the Wilmington Island store. Both Ted and Usher were very generous and exuberant tour guides. They answered every question we had and let my son and I inspect the hives up close. We looked for the queens and saw tiny eggs inside the honeycomb chambers. It was fascinating.

She usually screams when she sees a bee, but a veil made all the difference.

She usually screams when she sees a bee, but a veil made all the difference.


I left drooling, more convinced than ever that I wanted to host hives in my backyard. But I wasn’t so sure my neighbors would feel the same way. I live in a suburban neighborhood. Both my neighbors have backyard pools. There are always people walking barefoot in my yard and often in theirs. We have bees anyway, but I’m not sure that adding a few thousand more would be such a welcome idea. Or maybe it would; the bee would help pollinate their gardens. Before I get a hive I’ll have to ask them how they’d feel about it. But first, I’ll ask you.

How would you feel if your neighbor started keeping bees?


17 responses to “To Bee or Not To Bee?

  1. Oh wow, that’s quite good, spontaneously getting a tour of the bee gardens. I don’t know how I would feel about my neighbours keeping bees. If they spoke to me about it and made me feel secure about not being stung, I’d probably be ok with it. I met someone once who said that he kept bees when he lived in urban central London. He must have had a sizeable balcony and tolerant neighbours.

    • I couldn’t guarantee no one would be stung. But it’s a common misperception that bees fly at people to sting them. They’re just looking for nectar and when they don’t find it, they move on. But if you swat and kill one, it releases pheromones and other bees come. Bees aren’t out to hurt people, though. Honeybees die once they sting you, so that wouldn’t make much sense.

  2. I hardly ever venture into my backyard (I know, it’s sad) so I doubt I would even know if my neighbors started keeping bees. That, and the fact that high walls separate our backyards from each other. I’m also a huge wimp when it comes to insects so I don’t think I’d want to know even if they did. Though I do know how important bees are for keeping the ecosystem of nature in balance. I don’t think I answered your question very well.

    • Thanks, Jessica. As soon as the house next door is for sale, we’ll get you moved in. 🙂

      And thank you for the compliment about my daughter. I think she’s the most beautiful girl in the world.

  3. I would love to get a first hand Bee experience like that. We had a lot wild bee hives on the tees around our childhood home, and the memory of being stung by half dead bees while walking barefoot a couple of times, makes me second your intention to ask the neighbours 🙂

    • I loved the bee experience. It was fascinating to see their hives up close and hold them in my hand. When I was a kid we stepped on quite a few, too. That’s why I’m hesitant to host a hive in my yard. If we weren’t all out in our backyards, I wouldn’t worry about it, but we are.

  4. What fun (I love the bee outfits!). I love bees and honey and we’re friendly with our honey vendor at our local farmer’s market (in part because he is from France as well!). He’s invited us all to visit his bee farm one day and, reading your post, really makes me want to go now.

    • It makes me think we really might do it at home. I’d worried my daughter would be too afraid, but she learned something and isn’t as terrified of bees anymore. If nothing else, I accomplished that.

  5. I find bees fascinating, too, and I got to visit a small hive once at a local farm and take some close-up photos. I thought they were very beautiful. I don’t think your neighbors should have the say over whether you get to set up a bee hive or not (unless they have a serious allergy). It’s unlikely that the bees would affect them, and they would benefit the whole neighborhood.

  6. The beauty of living in an apartment…I don’t have to worry about neighbors with bee friends! We had a bad wasp problem at our last place where they were sneaking in through a crack in our old window. After going my whole life without a single sting, one got me right in the tush. Naturally I freaked out, since I didn’t know if I was allergic or not. But, I lived to tell the tale.

    On a more serious note, bees are crucial to our environment. So, I say people with homes—who aren’t terrified—should go for it!

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