I often hear beekeepers – or potential beekeepers – say that there isn’t anything nearby for the bees to forage on, or that they are “surrounded by corn and beans”. But there’s a difference between what we tend to see when we look around, and what a bee sees. Bees typically forage in a radius of 2-to-3 miles from their colony, and may venture as far as 5 miles if there’s nothing closer. But even a 2 mile radius provides an area of over 12.5 square miles for the bees to forage.
Here’s something fun to play with:
Go to this site and where it says “Search for Location”, enter the nearest town near you (I entered Helmsburg, IN) and then use the zoom (+ / -) buttons and arrow keys in the upper left corner to center the map on your bee yard. Where it says “Radius Distance”, enter 2 (or 3) miles. (You may have to hit enter a couple times, or click in one of the other Distance boxes before ALL FOUR boxes update. This is important, or it will stay at a radius of 600 miles.) Where it says “Map Height”, click on “large” or “full screen”. Lastly, click on the spot on the map where your bee yard is. Voila! This is the forage area for your bees:
In the upper right, where it says “map”, you can select “satellite” to get a better picture of exactly what the area around you looks like:
If you know of some beekeepers nearby, you can add them to the map. This provides a nice picture if you’re wondering about which drones your virgin queens might mate with. I added Tony’s bee yard:
One time I sat down with the membership list and started plotting all the locations within Brown County. It didn’t take very many before nearly the entire county was covered with overlapping circles!
Have some fun and check out the area your bees are pollinating!