Take the dog hive challenge

This is where we come to the rescue of urban beekeepers who want to keep their hives out of the public eye. A few years back I wrote a post called, “Out of sight, out of mind” where I explained why concealing your hives from passersby might be a good choice. Recently Frank, from I know not where, responded to that post with the idea of concealing a hive in an altered dog house.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I think it’s a clever idea. As I explained in that post, passersby are not in much danger of getting stung, but they often get upset at the thought of getting stung. I still get lots of mail from bee-fearing individuals who want to know how they can force their neighbor’s to get rid of their bees, or worse, how to kill their neighbor’s bees.

Because there is so much creative talent out there, I thought I would ask. The challenge is to come up with a design for a faux dog house that could be used to conceal a bee hive. From a distance, most people are not intimidated by a dog house, in fact, they pay little attention. Along the lines of Frank’s idea, I’m thinking of something that has a hive opening at each end and some kind of back door or removable roof that would allow beekeeper entry.

I’m not limiting the design ideas to just dog houses. I’ve seen pollinator housing that looks like birdhouses, and chicken coops that look like storage sheds, so anything that you might ordinarily see in an urban or suburban yard might make good camouflage.

So if you’d like to sketch an idea, I will publish any I get. Or, if you already have such a thing, send a photo. This is just for fun, but who knows? Someone may use your idea to keep their bees safe from the neighbors.

Also, anyone wanting to add their photos to the Reader Hives gallery or the Sunflowers gallery, please e-mail your photos to: rusty[at]honeybeesuite[dot]come.


  • Not a dog house, but the house we moved into a few years ago came with a dog run. Originally we thought it would make a great veggie garden as it keeps the dog out. We turned that into a bee run when we became beekeepers, and put burlap around the chain link fence to hide it from casual observers, as well as direct the bees to fly high.

    I find it amusing to tell visitors, don’t worry, our bees are caged :). The bee run is actually really useful in terms of keeping dogs and children out, the burlap and fence shelters the bees from the wind. The main downside is that it is only 10 feet wide, and we are still trying to figure out the optimal direction to face the hive for working the bees.

    • Selina,

      That is a great idea! I love it. Thanks for sharing. It reminded me that my dog stays in a chicken coop at night. It was a walk-in coop with a large fenced yard and it works great for the dog.

  • A neighbor (from an adjacent block) saw me in my bee suit when she was out on a walk and called the police. The police arrived, and I hid, watching (without my bee suit). The police looked over the fence and spent a long time talking to the neighbor and then drove off. My hive is yards away from the road and against a fence I share with a neighbor who loves the bees. The rest of my neighbors on my block only need a small jar of honey to convince them that keeping me informed of swarms or bee activity is all of our best interest!

  • In the film “More Than Honey”, one of the subjects is a Swiss beekeeper who has a bee house. I don’t know whether or not they are practical for most beeks, but they sure are attractive. A Search for “European Bee House” results in oodles of photos of bee sheds that certainly alter my sense of honey bee housing, and would definitely fool the average bee worrier. (Much of my motivation for the garden shed I built was making sure I had good winter storage for my mason bees.)

  • This is one of my favorite posts so far. I found myself going to all of the links and marveling at the designs; from the Canadian bee coop to the mobile Slovenian hives. Really entertaining reading!

  • I have my hives 1/2 obscured behind an old goat pen/shed, but only 1/2 obscured. So I took some weed barrier and lined the pen fence with it so now it’s fully obscured. Plus, it gives a bit of a wind break to the bees and hopefully directs them away from the road/house (the entrance faces away from the house anyway, but a backup plan never hurts!).

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