Roses to shield beehives from view

marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)March 18, 2013

I have a row of beehives in my backyard that are fairly visible from a common area behind my property. For several reasons I would like to plant roses in front of my beehives. First for looks.. those white boxes really stand out in my yard, and I don't want to tempt mischievous teenagers. Second, the bed in front of the beehives also serves as a garden to grow tomatoes, squash and herbs. Harvesting tomatoes and basil 5 feet in front of beehives in shorts is always an adventure. I need a row of shrub roses that will direct the bees to fly overhead and not notice me too much when picking tomatoes. Finally, it's a great sunny spot and I want to have as many roses as I can in my yard, why waste this prime spot... :-)

With that said, here are some of the parameters to consider. The bushes need to be between 5' and 8' tall, and not spread too much. Repeat bloom and fragrance are preferred. They have to be healthy, I will not spray next to my bees. They need to grow fairly dense to block the view to the hives well. I like Austin roses (who doesn't), but would also consider climbers on a fence like structure, providing height but not needing a lot of width. I am in zone 5b, so reliably hardy roses are also a must. Maintenance in the growing season needs to be minimal, as it will require me to prune and work them in a bee veil, not fun in 90 plus degree summer weather... :-)

What ideas and suggestions do you have? What would you plant in this spot. Btw, the linear length is about 20 to 25'. Thanks in advance.

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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

As the daughter of a beekeeper....find a better place for the bees (and a nicer queen)

Thoughts would be to paint the hives a color that blends better and consider rotating where the entrance to the hive is facing.

That said and having had a rose bush that covered the entrance to a hive, not sure a rose will redirect the bees enough. We use other flowers to attract bees in our garden now, thankfully the hive behind the roses is gone (a swarm that had moved in to the neighbors garage and after years as kind bees they were getting more aggressive)

You can re-queen mean bees. My dad would requeen them and move his hives way out of the way on the ranches he would use them to pollinate and hope that the new queens genes would mellow out the hive over time.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:05PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

I agree with Kippy 100%. I had a bee nest behind one rose last year and couldn't get near the rose to care for it. When I watered, the bees swarmed the whole back yard.

We had deep snow this year and the bee nest is gone. I think that rose has a chance to make it now. Me, too.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:44AM
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TNY78(7a-East TN)

My father-in-law is a bee keeper as well, now my husband wants to add bees at our new property. I have mixed feelings...I like the idea of the bees flying around pollinating my roses, and im sure it would have a nice effect on the taste of the honey...but I dont want to constantly get stung either. My father in law also keeps his 10 hives on the far end of his 5 acre property, away from people.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:00PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

Another thought would be to plant veggies that you can pick at night after you have locked the bees in (if you flip on lights they will come and investigate)

Also and I am sure you already know, where light colored clothing and non scented shampoos-lotions-conditioners etc and they will ignore you more.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:09PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Don't know how it will affect the bees, but Austin's Mortimer Sackler sounds like it was made for that situation. It is a tall shrub that wants to be a climber , but I prune it back each year so that it remains about 6-8 ft tall shrub. It is not very prickly, which you'll appreciate, but it is very disease-resistant and good bloomer (pink).

Austin's Hyde Hall might work find there also, but I havent' grown it, so can give no first-hand info on it--but the catalog copy looks good. It is pink also--maybe a bit darker pink.

As to the bees themselves, I know nothing about them except that they pollinate, make honey, live in hives, and have a queen. There--my entire knowledge base!

Oh, yes--and they can sting! How did I forget that!


    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:17PM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Thanks for the suggestions Kate, I had looked at MS myself, like it a lot. I'll check out Hyde Hall as well.

In defense of my bees, they are not aggressive or defensive at all. In fact I regularly mow in just shorts or have kids play ball in my backyard without any trouble. I wouldn't tolerate overly defensive bees myself, where is the fun in that... However, if you get right in front of their entrance and flight path they'll let you know you are a little close for their comfort. That's why planting shrubs about four or five feet from their hive entrances usually is a good idea. It forces the bees to fly out and up and they will stay at that height ignoring everything below their flight path. I figured I can kill two proverbial birds with one stone by planting roses, either shrubs, or climbers trained on a fence or trellis.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 10:01AM
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Our apiary is quite close to the house gardens, they never bother me at all. They are too busy with their own lives to care about what I'm doing. For a mid height hedge good old Hansa roses which bloom all summer and are very hardy would be a good fit.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:43AM
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I am not a bee keeper, so please take my advise with a grain of salt.

You might have some difficulty pruning your rose bushes being so close to the bees. Perhaps a one-blooming bush would be better? Then you can do your clean up in the fall/winter when the bees are hibernating anyways. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 5:32PM
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I'm also in Indy...if I were you I'd be looking at something once-blooming, like an Alba, which requires little to no care and grows upright...but I do admit I know nothing about bees and how to direct them as you were talking about.

I planted a hedge of Blanche de Belgique back in 2001 that is pretty incredible now considering the neglect its taken.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 8:19AM
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Tessiess, SoCal Inland, 9b, 1272' elev

How about the Austin rugosa Wild Edric? Its registration name is "aushedge" which gives a clue about its growth habit. As a rugosa, it wouldn't like to be sprayed, and mine is *never* fed, so talk about an easy care rose. For me it is a wonderful rose--blooms a lot, is very, very bushy (foliage is lush), fragrant, and healthy as a horse. I'm in love with the swirly-colored flowers that shimmer in the sun. Right now it is blooming away, producing lots of color in the garden. I can just imagine how beautiful a whole hedge of it would be. I don't know about spreading (if you meant as in suckering) as mine is grafted on multiflora. As to size, HMF says 47", but mine is already 5 feet tall and only arrived last spring from Pickering. That is part of the bad news not only because Pickering can't ship to the US right now but also because 2012 was its final year there. Heirloom is the only US source I know of at present.

As to bees, well I am well acquainted with them in my yard.;) They are happy here and multiplying!!! Had a tree removed from my backyard at least several years ago, and evidently there was a hive in an old trashcan in the back. The tree removers disturbed it and the bees stung them (never bothered me). So I had the bee remover come. Next thing I knew one of my neighbors told me that there were bees flying under the eaves on the side of my house (where I rarely venture). Uh oh. I touched the bedroom ceiling under where the bees were going, and it was warm. Another call to the bee removers and a nice hole chopped in my roof (can't recall how many pounds of honey they took out but it was many!). Then a couple years ago I was out in my front yard planting roses (what a surprise!) and thought, gee there seem to be a lot of bees flying through here (not stinging though), where are they going???? Looked up at my house, and sure enough there was a big tree limb hanging over it, and in that limb were HUGE chunks of honeycomb sticking out. If that limb broke from the weight of the honeycomb, it would crash through my roof. So----called the bee removers again. The man was laughing so hard, "you again".....;) I asked him was there anything I could do to prevent the bees from coming back and making a hive, in, on, next to my house. He looked at me with a straight face and said something to the effect, "you could come out here at noon every Tuesday and play a bagpipe for an hour".LOL

So now the neighbor on the other side of my yard is about to replace the fence. Guess what? There is ANOTHER BEE HIVE, naturally adjacent to the fence. And whoever works on that fence will be ultra close to said bees. And btw, I've never been stung by any of these bees and their various hives.

My friends all laugh and say what do you expect with you planting a regular smorgasbord of flowers, the bees LOVE your yard!

But back to the topic at hand, give Wild Edric a try. Who knows, maybe your beehives will multiply.;) ...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 1:48PM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

Melissa, I read everywhere that the bee population is declining, but I think what is really happening is that they are all moving to your yard. The word in the bee world must have gone out about your great flowers. Loved your story. Diane

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)


My dad loved the swarms that moved in to the walls-chimney etc. Me and Mom not so much.

We had those removed ($$) after he passed.

And of course every season the swarms say "hey...didn't we used to live over there" and back they come. But the last beekeeper said to spray the wall/chimney down with pinesol. Shoot that was easy considering the money and time we were spending keeping the varmints out. And, so far no bees even hunt around there any more. Of course the pinesol is not wonderful on plants, so hose them down before and after.

But thank goodness for Costco sized jugs of Pinesol!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:47PM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

I think that a Rugosa is your best choice. They thrive with no care and will become a thick hedge. You can prune them to size in early spring before the bees are active. Plus, more so than any other rose I have grown, Rugosa blooms are very attractive to bees.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 11:27AM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Dear Melissa,
Thank you so much for making me laugh tears reading your bee stories! As a beekeeper I know exactly how your bee guy felt when he started to get calls from you. Actually you should feel very privileged to have so many wild bee colonies on your property, it has unfortunately become a rare thing, too many feral bee colonies dying from environmental stresses, diseases and parasites. Thank you for not just killing them with some spray. It's interesting that you are rarely bothered by bees, I have observed the same in my yard. Some people seem to have either the right body chemistry (as in they smell good to bees) or they are calm and move non-threateningly around bees or some other factor. Whatever it is, you are a natural beekeeper!

As to your suggestion of Wild Edric, I looked it up and love the description of it. It sounds like what I had in mind and envisioned. Thank you so much to everyone to chime in and give me some of your thoughts and ideas. It's very ,inch appreciated. Now, if just spring would finally get here, we are in the middle of a winter storm and have about 8" of snow already. Seriously... on March 24th? :-)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 9:19PM
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I love the scent of a beehive. I love the glass sided ones they have at the fair and I put my ear by it and listen to them. The beekeepers at the fair have a tall tube that points upward and bends like a periscope to let the bees come and go away from people. The life of a bee is so short and they work so hard. I wonder why they never take a break and rest on a flower but they never do. They know they have to work hard for the sake of all the bees back at the hive. So many of the things we love are made possible by bees. Thank you little bees for everything you do.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 8:06PM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

So I thought I had settled on the rugosa Jens Munk as my rose of choice for shielding my hives from view, to entice the bees to fly high above any visitor to my back yard, and to generally grow several plants of the same rose, for a change. I thought, I said, because now that the Knock-outs are blooming EVERYWHERE my better half suggested them as a carefree rose of choice for that spot. I generally don't think of myself as a plant snob (who does anyway), I just don't like to add more knock-outs to our city, when there are already that many. I think for now I will just nod silently to the suggestion, but I will make sure I have the final say when the ordering of plants is done... sneaky, I know, but one has to do what one has to do. Besides, the Jens Munk will wow him in the end and he will agree that I was right to suggest them over knock-outs... :-)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 10:28AM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Update... after all my research and having finally settled on Jens Munk we walk into Costco in September and spot five gallon Limelight hydrangeas for a killer price. So, we ended up buying 7 of those and planting my screening hedge in front of our bee hives... with veils on of course. :-) The hedge looks good, will look better in coming years, however, the look could be improved upon by a second "hedge" row of shorter roses in front of that... Jens Munk is out, too big for it... but a shorter rugosa rose, or maybe some of the shorter English roses advertised for hedging..hmmm... Choices

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 8:45AM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

Possibilities that come to mind, and assuming roses grow to a fairly predictable size in your zone 5b, are: Tamora, Munstead Wood, maybe The Prince; non Austins might include Bernstein-Rose, Easy Does It (might get too tall), Ebb Tide, or the new Carruth mini Diamond Eyes. DE's blooms are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, but the bush is about 2 feet tall so far. Here's a pic of Diamond Eyes. Diane

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 2:12PM
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