Residential Backyard Hive Hosting
Enjoy honey bees in your backyard. Let local expert beekeepers do the work.
Interested in being a hive host? Read the details below and then fill out our Hive Host Interest form.
Rainy Day Bees has been tending residential beehives in backyards in Seattle and Shoreline since 2011. We started keeping hives in different neighborhoods out of necessity, and quickly fell in love with the unique flavor profile of raw honey from different backyards. What you plant in your yard really does matter!
Since that time, we have become experts in local urban beekeeping, spreading the joy of urban bees through our backyard hive hosting program, as well as classes and backyard beekeeping experiences.
- 2 beehives: all equipment and two honey bee colonies
- 35 expert beekeeping visits a year (average/expected number. Can vary some depending on the needs of the bees)
- Intensive swarm prevention, including weekly hive inspections during swarm season
- Exclusive access to ultra local raw honey from your backyard and a gift card for raw local honey and beeswax candles
- Invitation to our annual Honey Harvest Party
- Optional Upgrade: Hive monitoring system (includes scale), and detailed monthly updates.
Why become a hive host?
- Watching the bees in your backyard! This is the #1 reason our hive hosts love their bees.
- Support honey bees, local beekeepers, and your local food systems while learning about pollinators.
- Concentrated pollination for your backyard and your neighborhood.
- Exclusive access to raw honey from your backyard.
- Be part of a community of hive hosts who care about honey bees.
Why choose us?
We are the local experts at backyard beekeeping! And all beekeeping is local. Management practices that work in New England will not work here. Ask any beekeeper!
- Rainy Day Bees premium management plan. We love our bees (and you will too), but sometimes their natural inclinations can interfere with our hosts' or their neighbors' lifestyles. To mitigate any negative interactions, we go above and beyond other hosting services and provide:
- Intensive management to prevent swarming. Weather permitting, we inspect our hosts' hives once a week throughout the primary swarm season for signs that the bees are getting ready to swarm. If swarm preparations are found, manipulations are immediately performed to prevent the swarm. We can't guarantee 100% swarm prevention on all hives, but we're pretty good at it! If we do miss a swarm, we will come out to get it immediately when you or your neighbor calls to let us know.
- Ongoing management throughout the year for health and swarm prevention. Outside of the primary swarming season, all hives are inspected every other week during the active season to make sure that the bees are healthy and that off-season swarm preparations haven't been initiated. Hives are checked once a month during the cold months to make sure that they have sufficient food to make it through to spring.
- Minimum two beehives per location: We feel that 2 hives is the minimum size for a healthy, sustainable apiary, and will also fit in any host yard. Many other hosting services charge extra for a second hive.
- Review our hive host requirements and pricing (below)
- Fill out the 2023 Hive Host Interest form
- We’ll contact you to set up a site visit with Peter to ensure a mutually agreeable location.
Do you have space to devote to 2+ hives? We recommend a minimum of an 8x12 foot area with very low to no daily pedestrian traffic. The hives themselves will take up roughly 2x2 feet each (plus a little space for the beekeepers to work), and it is best to give the bees a 10 foot "runway" in front of the hives to reach cruising altitude above people's heads. If you don't quite have that space, there are ways to reduce the space in front of the hive and get the bees flying above head level sooner if necessary.
Most local municipalities also require a setback between bee hives and your property line. This setback is often waived if there is a 6 foot tall solid fence or hedge extending in both directions from the hive which separates the hive from any neighboring properties. If you are uncertain, feel free to email us and we can help you look up the setback requirements for your area.
Does the location get at least half day sun? In and around Seattle, honey bees like as much heat/sun as they can get, because it allows them to start foraging earlier, and stay out later. Sunlight and heat also help prevent diseases. Less than half-day sun isn't a total deal breaker, but the more sun we can get the bees, the better it is for everyone.
Is the location easily accessible without having to pass through any building, and in all seasons? Beehives take regular maintenance and we want to be able to service them without disturbing you or your family.
Are you or any of your family known to be allergic? Honey bees don’t like to sting, and severe honey bee allergies are actually relatively rare (normal localized swelling around the site of a sting is not an allergy). Still, if you or your family are allergic to honey bees, you are probably not a good candidate for being a hive host unless you have a very large property where the bees can be placed in a completely unused area.
Are you within our coverage area? We work primarily in backyards all over Seattle, Shoreline, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Bothell, Redmond, Bellevue, and Kirkland. If you are outside of these areas, we may still be able to manage hives for you, but additional travel fees may apply.
Why charge for hosting?
We’re frequently asked how we arrive at the pricing for our hosting program. After doing this for many years, we’ve tightened up our operations as much as we can, but the truth is that it is very expensive to run a responsible urban hive hosting program. We have to be mildly neurotic about neighbor relations, municipal laws, and (especially) swarm control, all of which add significant labor expense, and which are things that are not important in rural, agricultural beekeeping.
Our beekeepers spend an average of 35 hours per year driving to/from and managing each individual host yard. Combined with offsite support and prep work and the actual physical costs of keeping bees, such as replacement bees when a hive dies, equipment maintenance, feed, and mite control, this is truly the least that we can charge our clients and remain in business.
Our pricing is highly competitive with the national companies operating in our area, yet we provide far superior service in every respect.
- Annual hosting: $2,000
- Pricing Breakdown (Onsite work):
- 35 estimated annual visits at $40/visit
- Bee replacements (winter deaths, queen replacement when necessary), feed, medication as needed: $300
- Equipment Maintenance and replacement: $100
- Administrative and offsite work: $200
- Total: $2,000
- One-time installation fee: $1,000 (covers 72% of actual 1st year physical costs)
- Equipment for 2 hives: $700
- Bees for 2 hives: $500
- Installation labor (includes travel): $200
- Total: $1,400
Total first-year cost: $3,000; Quarterly ($750) and Monthly ($250) payment plans available
2nd+ year cost: $2,000; Quarterly ($500) and Monthly ($167) payment plans available
Optional upgrade: Electronic monitoring and hive reports
Annual fee: $400 (may be added to payment plan if desired)
One-time equipment installation fee: $400
Optional upgrade: Honey buyout. You get to keep all of the honey that your hive produces! Contact us for pricing.
12 lbs (1 gallon) of honey from YOUR backyard (or the closest backyard to you, if your hives don't produce)
$100 gift card for anything on the RDB store, also usable in person at farmers markets
Expert beekeepers on call to handle any questions from you or your neighbors
Annual hive host Harvest Party to experience extracting honey.
All the benefits of responsible urban beekeeping with none of the work!
Ready to start hosting?
Fill out the 2023 Hive Host Interest form.