Urban Rooftop Beekeeping in Newfoundland?


I’ve looked into keeping bees on some rooftops here in St. John’s, Newfoundland, because it seems like a great idea — in theory.

A cosy rooftop nook for some bee hives?

Hives on rooftops, for the most part, would be out of sight and out of mind of people with an irrational fear of honey bees. The hives would be safe from vandals too. Most importantly, the bees would have a significantly more diverse source of pollen and nectar available to them in the city. Most of my hives are on a rural farm surrounded by coniferous trees — a virtual desert for honey bees. But the city of St. John’s is full of deciduous and flowering trees everywhere I look. It’s honey bee heaven. Honey bees would do much better in the city than out in the country. I have little doubt about that. But…

A seriously windy rooftop in St. John’s.

Good luck trying to find a rooftop in St. John’s, Newfoundland, that doesn’t feel like a wind tunnel most of the time. The bees would leave the hive, blow away and never make it back against the wind.

Plenty of space for hives. Plenty of wind too.

How windy is too windy for honey bees? I don’t know. But if the wind is strong enough to knock me around every time I’m on the roof, I’d say those poor little bees haven’t got a chance. Beekeeping in the wind is no fun either.

The closer I can get my bees to the city, the better off they’ll be. Chances are I’ll keep them on the farm because that’s the easiest thing to do, but I’ve got a few more rooftops on my radar. Shoot me an email if you know anyone in St. John’s with a large, flat, sheltered roof. You never know…

UPDATE (June 28/13): I was discouraged to put beehives on any of the roofs I have access to because of the strong winds. But I was checking on my hives in the country recently and saw the bees coming and going from the hives with winds blowing at about 60 kph (38 mph). The bees seemed to have little trouble flying in the strong wind. Checking on the hives in the wind wouldn’t work, but at least it seems the bees can handle it.

5 thoughts on “Urban Rooftop Beekeeping in Newfoundland?

    • Heat from the rooftops. That’s a good question. I haven’t looked into it, but perhaps the wind, even when it’s not strong, would be enough to dissipate most of the heat. I would probably set up the hives on light coloured stands or pallets, something that doesn’t absorb sunlight.

      But really, I don’t know.

  1. Hey Phil,

    Seen the first pollen for the year today. That real pale yellow. My guess it is alder and the bees were bringing in a tonne of it.

    Woot woot

    Thye colony that was almost dead and I moved to the mini nuc has flurished. She is laying eggs well and she is filling out. All the bees need is space to lay more eggs.

    hopefully the year will come along.

    • That sounds like it could be true. If it is, putting bee hives on the roof shown in these photos is out of the question. The winds on the roof are usually somewhere between 30 and 60 mph.

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