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Considerations for raising bees and chickens together

Considerations for raising bees and chickens together
Considerations for raising bees and chickens together
Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images

Many homesteaders like to be as self-sustaining as they can be. This often leads then to dabble with raising various types of livestock. Chickens are a natural for many and now there is a growing interest in keeping bees, too. Mother Earth News recently posted about whether or not these two could be raised together or at least in close proximity to one another and the answer is a resounding yes.

Admittedly, this is only a concern if your homestead doesn’t allow for the two to be raised away from one another. If you have limited space, you can still reap the benefits both species have to offer.

When beehives are located close to where chickens are allowed to free range, there is seldom a problem. The chickens aren’t interested in the bees or what they are doing. On those occasions when a chicken gets in front of the entrance to the hive, the guard bees will give them a warning buzz and the bird normally moves on.

Chickens do eat insects. With bees, they normally limit their feeding to dead ones. If they do take a liking to the live ones, a simple fence around the hive should do the trick.

So how close can they be to one another? Chickens will sometimes perch atop the hive and the bees don’t seem to care. In areas where the hive is subject to predators like bears, the hives are often enclosed in the chicken coop for added protection and the two species get along just fine.

The chickens can also be beneficial to the bees. Because they like to eat insects, they can eat the hive beetles that can be such a nuisance. The birds not only eat dead bees, they also eat bee debris and enjoy bits of honeycomb when offered.

Sometimes the bees will take over the water supply for the chickens. If they do, the water containers can be relocated for about 6 weeks. The bees will find another source of water during that time. Some chicken feed contains anise hyssop, a favorite of bees. You may find bees in the chicken feed if they discover it. You may need to change your feed if it becomes a problem.

Other than that, bees and chickens can live harmoniously together. If you give it a try, let us know how it worked out for you.