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Whether you are new to beekeeping or expanding your apiary, the placement of your hives always becomes a question. Textbook positioning of your hives may not be possible.
Consideration should be given to requirements to register hives with the appropriate town, city, county, state agencies. To understand the need check with:
Ideally the hive’s entrance should be facing south to south-east. Hives fair better with early morning sunlight that gets them out and moving. The bees flight pattern when coming and going from the entrance to the hive should not be impeded. They will be more comfortable if they have a 45 degree angle clear path in the front of the hive. It should be positioned in such a way that the beekeeper is able to walk around the entire hive. Typically the beekeeper will be ‘working’ the hive from the rear in order to allow the hive’s bees to ingress and egress unobstructed.
Consideration should also be given in the placement choice to allow the ability to transport the hives, materials, and/or honey to and from the location. Don’t isolate the location making it a challenge to support it.
There should be fresh water in close proximity, such as a stream or pond. A nice bird bath may suffice. A big concern would be dependable pollen and nectar producing plants. Don’t place your hives in an area that becomes bogged down with water during the wet season.
Wind must also be considered. Your girls are challenged to exit the hive should wind be excessive. The wind may also topple your hive. So consider natural wind breaks, if none are available some bales of hay may suffice.
If in a residential area, it is best to speak with your neighbors about your new venture. A great guide in your discussion, that you may even print and hand out, is Honey Bees and Beekeeping. Even in rural areas, depending on the distance to your closest neighbor, it will go a long way to mitigate future potential issues.
- Ascertain the legality of creating an apiary at your location, especially inside city limits. Your “Zoning and Planning Commission” is a good spot to begin.
- It is best to place your hives so that your neighbors don’t see them, not to side step the law, but rather to encourage the bees to flight higher, thereby circumventing your neighbors property.
- Seek to maintain a ‘gentle’ disposition in your bees. If they are disposed to aggressiveness consider requeening.
- Perform hive inspects on sunny, warm days to preclude creating an angry hive.
- If in a residential area, or one with close neighbors, erect a fence to keep children from wandering into the hive area unattended.
- Refrain working with the bees during a nectar dearth or inclement weather.
- Share the hive’s honey with your neighbors.
- Ensure the bees have an adequate water source. Use a birdfeeder, fountain, or Boardman feeder.
- Consider placing “swarm traps” near your hives to preclude swarming into neighbor’s property.
- Be a “good neighbor” by not working your bees when they are outside and near the apiary.
- Locate the hives behind evergreens, a fence, stone wall, or other barrier.
Are there wild animals about? Raccoons and Skunks love to eat your bees. Typically during the night these critters will find the hive entrance, scratch it to attract some bees to investigate and gobble them up. Of course in their zeal the hive may be toppled over. Keep your hive off the ground.
Raccoons and Skunks do not like to expose their tender bellies. Coiling some chicken wire in front of the hive is also effective. Or you may place a carpet tack strip to the entrance. Bears are another big concern, an entire post discusses this issue, so go to that for detailed information.
Send your apiary pictures so others may visualize differing placement of apiaries. I recently built, inexpensively, a nice hive stand.
You will note the cinder blocks to lift the 4×4 pressure treated posts. An all purpose bond glued the blocks together for stabilization. Ensure the span is level. Bees will be creating their honey comb perpendicular, so should the hive not be level the comb will potentially become a burden to removing the frames. Screened bottom boards on the hive allow for debris to fall out and of course bring some needed ventilation to the hive.
The above Apiary has a cover over the hives for shade during the hot summers and will act as a barrier to the rain during the winters. The legs of each hive have ‘coffee cans’ filled with vegetable oil to keep the ants from accessing the hives. You may also see the plastic container on the ground in front of the left hive that has several sponges with water.