Can You Keep A Beehive In Your Backyard If You Have Dogs?

You may be new to beekeeping and keen to get your first hive, but you already have a dog, or more than one, and you want to know – can your dog and your bees can live together?

I’m happy to say ‘yes’, both your dog and bees can exist in the same yard, but there are two exceptions to this. They are:

  • if your dog is allergic to bees
  • If you keep your dog in an enclosed kennel or tied up when you go out

I’ll write about each of these situations in more detail below.

If your dog is (severely) allergic to bees

It’s a good idea to firstly to determine what is meant by being allergic. An allergic reaction can be mild, such as slight swelling or redness at the sting site, or it can be severe, with symptoms such as labored breathing, severe swelling, vomiting and diarrhea.

The statement provides a bit of a dilemma, because often the only way to find out if your dog is mildly or severely allergic to bee stings is if they get stung!

Depending on the reaction of your dog, you may be able to treat the symptoms yourself, or take your dog to the vet for treatment.

You will have to be vigilant when your dog first meets your bee colony. Keep watch to see how the dog reacts to the hive. 

My dog was stung as a puppy when she put her paw on a flower which was already occupied by a bee. Before that sting, she took no notice of them and would saunter around the hives without concern.

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Being a little unsure of what symptoms she would present, I did not hesitate and took her to the vet, who administered anti histamine. She was fine apart from mild swelling to her paw. Since then however, she has given the beehives a wide berth.

If and when your dog is stung for the first time, observe them carefully because you may need to consult your veterinary surgeon quickly. Reactions usually develop between ten to thirty minutes after the sting.

Remember, your dog can be stung by a bee even if you don’t own a hive, so it’s a good idea to know what you should do if it happens.

Treating mild reactions

Mild reactions include slight swelling and redness around the sting site. Your dog will probably yelp and try to paw at the area to remove the pain.

If you can find the implanted stinger, remove it by scraping a credit card or fingernail along the skin. Don’t use tweezers, because you could inadvertently squeeze the venom sac, which forces more venom into the skin.

You can help reduce swelling by applying a cool compress to the area, made by wrapping a towel around ice or a bag of frozen vegetables.

Don’t give your dog any medication without first consulting your veterinarian. If you’re concerned about your pet, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Treating severe reactions

If your dog experiences more severe symptoms, such as facial swelling, difficulty breathing, vomiting or diarrhea, it’s important to get to your veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Depending on the severity of your dog’s condition, your pet may need to be hospitalized overnight and the veterinarian may administer medications such as antihistamines, to reduce the reaction.

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If you keep your dog in an enclosed kennel or tied up outside when you’re not home

If your dog is tied up or confined in some way outside while you are not at home, then it may be at risk if your hive is disturbed and the bees decide to aggressively defend themselves and their home.

Your hive (or hives) may be upset for example, by someone mowing the lawn close to their front door, an uninvited creature trying to enter the hive, or if the hive is knocked over by strong winds. The bees could then become aggressive and sting the nearest innocent bystander.

Your dog needs to be able to run away if the bees get really agitated and decide to take it out on them. If your dog can’t get away and endures too many stings, this can be fatal.

I’d suggest you put as much distance as you can between your dog’s kennel and your bees, and I’d consider not tying your dog up at all when they’re outside.

I’d already had hives when our dog arrived as a puppy. I decided to take her around the yard with me any time I was going outside (unless she was asleep of course)! 

We have a large garden so there was really no need for her to get close to the hives – there were many other sights and smells for her to investigate. 

The only time I’d keep her inside in the laundry was when I undertook a hive inspection because I knew her curious nature and desire to be close to people would potentially cause problems for her, me and the bees.

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Our dog is quite small…my hives are raised up on bricks or stands above her head. This is useful because when bees take flight from the door of the hive, they are already at an altitude too high for her to reach. As such, she takes no notice of them.

However, if you have a larger or more curious dog you could consider erecting some type of barrier or enclosed area around the hive that prevents your dog from getting too close.

Conclusion

As a beekeeper we instinctively consider our own comfort and safety when working with our bees. But it’s also it’s important to consider the canine members of your family too so they are kept well and happy.

Being aware of potential risky situations between your dog and your bees means you are going to act quickly and confidently should the need arise.

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