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One very good reason why beekeepers are fractious, back-biting egotists collaborative, chummy souls is that the maximum distance which a bee can fly in search of forage is 3 miles away from the hive. Why’s that ? Well, any further and the bee would expend more energy on a six-mile round-trip than it could possibly gather. So any bee-related activity outside that 3-mile radius around your apiary might as well be happening on the moon.

Compartmentalisation comes with the territory in beekeeping. Each Queen is an egg-box, each hive is a crateful of bees, each apiary is a single precinct. Paradoxically, that demarcation means that there is no advantage to be gained in withholding knowledge, begrudging another’s success or heaping malicious thoughts on your fellow bee-wranglers. If that beekeeper is outside your parochial, 3-mile balliwick, then whatever they get up to is about as impactful for your bees as the comings and goings of the French President’s moped at the Elysée Palace. So help and advice can be lavishly gifted to your peers. And if, on the other hand, that beekeeper is within your own perimeter, you have every reason to want to encourage their success with a healthy stock of bees and a thriving ecology. Your self-interest is served by helping your closest neighbours.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course, disease, bad bee genes, invasive predators, pesticides and self-aggrandising bee-ureaucrats all threaten the well-being of the wider bee nation. But I’m not Einstein – I’m a stockman, so my primary role as a beekeeper is to maintain high-health bees on my own patch. Nail that, and so much else just falls into place.

For that reason, beekeepers are hyper-sensitive about what actually does go on within their 3-mile inclusion zone. Particularly on the subject of forage. So if you would like to scratch the itch of curiosity about the limits of your bees’ 3-mile foraging potential, then look no further than this link (which will take you anywhere in the world).  I bet that you’ll be surprised !

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