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Can Bees and Backyard Chickens Coexist?

Urban homesteading, urban farming, and urban beekeeping… whatever you call it many families are interested in raising their own food again. From vegetable gardens and fruit trees, to raising your own chickens and honeybees. You can find many of examples in neighborhood yards, on rooftops and shared city lots. While gardening is not normally a concern, there are a few considerations you must take before adding honeybees and chickens together.

1.  Check out local city or county urban animal keeping rules. Where GloryBee is headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, homes are able to have up to six chickens, but roosters are prohibited. Three honeybee hives are allowed provided that they are located 5 feet from all property lines and that there is a water source onsite within 15 feet of the hives.
2. Chickens are known for eating everything in their path. Consider if you want to raise chickens, will they be enclosed in a coop or allowed to be free range within the yard? While free range is wonderful, you may need to arrange vegetable gardens appropriately.
3. Honeybees and chickens have a cooperative relationship – Chickens are busy foraging on the ground and can help clean up areas around hives. Your hens will be more than happy to eat all the ants, beetles and other bugs you do not want around the hives.
4. Chickens can also be utilized for minor pest management in your hives. Varroa mites like jumping into drone brood because they can get an extra cycle of their own offspring since drone bees incubate for 24 days. Once honeybees have drawn out comb, queen has laid the drone eggs, and worker bees have capped the drone cells you can give your hens a treat. They love drone larvae and eat the mites along with the larvae.
5.  Water sources for both honeybees and chickens separately are essential. Honeybees will scour the yard searching for water, and if they find the chickens water they may be in the way of the chickens drinking. You will need to keep an eye on both, but it shouldn’t be an issue if you keep fresh water near both hive and coop.
We always recommend reaching out to your local beekeeping association for tips as well. Many beekeepers enjoy raising chickens and honeybees together. What are some of your tips and tricks for raising hens and honeybees? Feel free to share!

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