Beehive Placement: Where to put a Beehive

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Choosing the best beehive placement in your backyard can be quite a daunting task. Yet, it is one of the most important things a new beekeeper needs to decide. And, it is best to decide where to put your hives at a time when you are still learning. The best beehive location meets the needs of the bees and the beekeeper.

How to Choose a Good Beehive Location

Yellow beehive placed in the yard among grasses image.

Full of new beekeeper enthusiasm, you have decided it is time to fulfill your desire to have a hive of bees. Perhaps you want to produce honey or you just may want your own bees for pollination or plain enjoyment.

A common beekeeping mistake is to fail to give beehive location enough thought. Sometimes new beekeepers set up their hive only to realize later that its in bad spot.

The hive is placed in an area that is bad for the colonies (for some reason) or inconvenient for the beekeeper. Colonies can be moved or course but it is much better to avoid this extra task.

Apiary Design

Apiary is the term used to describe a location with hives of honey bees. Yes, whether you have 2 hives or 200 – you have an apiary. Another common term used to describe the land where hives sit is the “bee yard”.

So, how do you decide on the best spot to set up your hives? You want a location that is safe for the bees and meets the needs of the colony.

One where your bees can be healthy and productive. And, while bees can live in almost any location, they shouldn’t have to do so.

But keep in mind that even with the best planning, you may have to relocate a hive someday. That’s okay. But, we strive to avoid moving hives because it is a lot of work and can be disruptive to the colony.

Factors to Consider for Best Beehive Placement

Herein are some of the factors that you should consider as you evaluate where to set up your beehive.

Few people have a perfect location for bees. Try to meet as many requirements as you can in the space you have available.

  1. Check Local Beekeeping Regulations
  2. Safety Issues for Keeping Bees
  3. Don’t Overstock Your Beeyard
  4. Easy Access to Manage Your Beehives
  5. Protected from Predators
  6. Choose Hive Locations Safe from Theft
  7. Avoid low-lying Damp Areas for Beehives
  8. Raise Hives Up Off the Ground
  9. Position Hives Facing East if Possible
  10. Hives Should be Protected from High Winds

Local Beekeeping Regulations

The best location for a beehive is the one that you have. That may sound confusing but it’s my way of saying that bees can be kept in many locations.

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However – in some areas, there are legal limits to have many hives you can have on a small lot. Research local laws and regulations before investing in bees.

Don’t invest hundreds of dollars in the hobby only to find out that you can not have bees on your property.

Choose a Safe Hive Location

No matter how much we appreciate our bees, not every spot is suitable for a box filled with stinging insects.

Your hives should be located in a spot away from everyday human activity. Bees need space beyond the physical requirements of the box.

Your honey bees need a clear flight path so they can come and go without hindrance from humans. Do you have a section of the yard that is not used very often? 

You may need to do some creative thinking. But, most homeowners can provide good placement for beehives – at least a couple. Of course, the larger area you have the easier this task will be.

Think beyond just enough space to set up the hive boxes. The honey bee colony will feel a need to defend their home. Avoid placing hives near children’s play areas or busy walkways.

Do you have a small yard? Having a hive may still be possible. But having 10-20 hives in a small back yard, is never a good idea.

How Many Beehives In My Backyard? Avoid Overstocking

The number of colonies you can have in one spot involves factors other than just the safety of yourself or your neighbors.

Any area with managed hives increases the likely hood that your neighbors may come into contact with a bee swarm. This is especially true if you have too many hives and can not properly manage them.

Foraging Resources

Our bees can fly several miles to collect nectar and pollen. But overstocking can be an issue- even for hobbyists.

In my area, in April when everything is blooming, my site could feed 50 hives. But during July, when it is hot and dry that is not the case.

In a bad nectar year, the same location may have 20 colonies starving without intervention. This is another local aspect of honey bee management.

Foraging conditions vary greatly depending on the climate in your region and available plants. Check with local beekeepers in your area and have realistic goals.

Easy Access

Place your colonies in a location that is easy to get to in all seasons. As you perform maintenance or checks throughout the year, will there be mud, snow etc? There are some beekeeping Winter tasks.

If you need to feed the hives, make a couple of gallons of sugar water for bees – to be carried to the hives. If you have many hives, you will need to drive a vehicle or use a cart to move food and equipment.

What if you need to move a colony? If you have to move a bee colony weighing several hundred pounds you need to be able to get there – even in muddy or snowy weather.

Protection from Predators

Do you have natural predators in your area? If you live in a region with a population of bears, you must have an electric fence

If keeping beehives in a pasture with livestock such as goats or cows, a small fence around the hives is not a bad idea. Cows often turn hives over trying to scratch on them.

What about human predators? Honey bee colonies are worth a bit of money and many are stolen each year.

Colorful beehives surrounded by a fence image.

Are your Hives Protected from Theft?

You do want to choose a location that is reasonably safe from theft. Yes, believe it or not – some beekeepers are thieves. Many beehives are stolen each year.

This results in thousands of dollars of lost inventory for honest beekeepers. To combat theft you have a few options. Try to camouflage the location so well that no one knows where your bee yard is located.

Or, locate hives within site of neighbors who will help you watch them. Game cameras or electric fences and gates are used by some beekeepers.

Avoid Areas with Excess Moisture

If your bees, live in a moist low lying area, too much humidity can cause an increase in disease.  There is also a danger of flooding if located too close to a river or pond.

Please remember, bees can fly to get to natural water sources– they don’t have to be right next to the creek. In fact, honey bees can travel long distances from their hives to collect what they need.

Still, quick access to water is a good thing but place hives in a location with good air flow and out of the flood plain. Try to avoid placing hives on boggy damp ground. They may fall over!

If your region tends to be humid overall, proper hive ventilation is your best friend. Ensure plenty of ventilation for the hive. Use screened bottom boards and extra ventilation holes in the bee boxes if needed.

Stacked boxes of langstroth hives on wooden stands image.

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Use a Hive Stand

Be sure to put your beehives on some type of stand. It does not have to be fancy. Stacked cement blocks (cinder blocks), sturdy stands built of wood or other materials will work.

You can also purchase commercial hive stands that are designed to hold the heavy weight of a production hive.

A hive stand that tips over is not a fun experience. In addition to being sturdy, don’t make your stand too high up, you need to be able to lift added honey supers off later.

If your hive stand has legs, you could add some type of barrier to help with ants. Raising it off the ground also protects your bees from skunks, racoons and other predators.

Decorative beehives placed in a garden of flowers image.

Backyard Beekeeper With Small Space

If you are a beekeeper with a small backyard, there are some special challenges to overcome. You may still be about to enjoy your bees, but you have a responsibility to the public.

Even gentle easy to manage honey bees can become testy and defensive at times. Inside a beehive are up to 60,000 bees (that can sting). It is not a good item to have sitting right outside your back door.

Honey bee colony temperament changes over the season. Being bother by pest or predators, experiencing a lack of nectar, or queen problems-all can turn your sweet easy going bees into a defensive nightmare.

Beginner beekeepers often fail to understand how drastic this behavior can be until it happens. Of course, the bad temper doesn’t last forever.

By fixing the issues that are upsetting the bees, your hive will eventually return to it’s former attitude. However, until that happens – the hives should not be too close to any human dwelling or pathway.

Your neighbors and family members may not experience the “bee euphoria” that is enveloping you. It is much better to have your hives a bit farther away from the house, rather than closer.

Also, the more colonies you have in an area, the more bee poop you may notice on cars or even the clothes line! You laugh but those little orange splashes can be a big problem.

Beekeeping in the City/Urban Beehive Placements

Some urban beekeepers have hives on the rooftops of buildings. Of course, this will need approval of the building representatives and possibly the city. But there are other options too.

Hives can be located inside walled gardens. This helps separate the colony flight path from a human walking path. The space in front of a hive is most important to the bees.

Having a 6 foot wall a few feet in front of the hive entrance helps direct bee flight upward. Often, city dwellers are unaware that a functioning beehive is located in their neighborhood.

And, another option for city dwellers is to find a local group of beekeepers. Some beekeeping associations develop community bee yards for their members to have a couple of colonies! How cool is that!

If you live in a close community, consider developing a privacy screen for your busy bees. Plant a line of evergreen shrubs on 3 sides of the bee yard. 

Or, install outdoor privacy screens which require less maintenance than a living shrub. Artificial shrubs are also an option for year round cover.

And, a shrub is more likely to catch a bee swarm if one leaves your hive. That’s great because it will be easy to catch ! 

Do you or your neighbors have a swimming pool? Honey bees tend to love swimming pool water but this doesn’t mean you can’t have a hive.

In addition to providing another water source for them, there are some – tips you can use to keep bees out of the swimming pool.

What are pesticide spraying by cities and local governments? If this is common in your area, consider how you will protect your beehives from mosquito spraying.

When choosing the best place to put your hive, don’t panic if you can not meet all of the criteria. You don’t need a perfect hive location. But, where to buy a hive or get hive blueprints to build your own – placement is important.

Take all the guidelines into consideration and choose the best spot that you have! Bees thrive in many settings.

As long as you take the needs of the bees into consideration, as well as, human safety – you should be able to find a great place to put your beehive.

As you begin your research, you will realize there is a lot to learn about honey bee management. But, not everyone gives beehive placement the thought that it deserves.

FAQs About Hive Placement

Which direction should my beehive face?

Most beekeeping books will tell you to place your beehive so that the entrance of the hive is facing East or Southeast.

Having the early morning sun shine on the front of the hive, warms the bees earlier in the day. This encourages the bees to begin their day with enthusiasm and start to work.

In fact, I recommend facing colonies towards the morning sun in my Online Beekeeping Class. Don’t get too hung up on this suggestion if it doesn’t fit your location.

Does your hive need A windbreak? 

Those of you who live in windy, cold climates might consider providing some protection for your colonies.

A wind barrier can be a structure such as a wall or a living wall of greenery. In some cold regions, beekeepers stack bales of straw near the hives.

Should A beehive be placed in sun or shade?

Is the best location for a beehive in the full sun or shade? If you don’t live in an area with Small Hive Beetles, dappled sunlight is the best location for your beehive.

Hives placed in hot sun makes the bees work harder to cool it during Summer days. But, if you live in a region with Small Hive Beetles, placing your beehive in full sun is a better option.

Hive Beetles seem to prefer hives that are in the shade. Moist soft soil and damp ground cover aids in hive beetle reproduction.

If shade is all you have, beekeepers with beetle activity will need to be more proactive. Keep the area underneath the hive stand clean and install hive beetle traps before beetles become a problem.

Do I need a hive location with flowers?

You do not have to put your beehive near a field of wildflowers. Though your bees would love it and I am a big supporter of planting for bees.

New beekeepers feel concerned about living in an area with few blooms. What will the honey bees eat? Your bees can easily fly up to a mile ( and more) to forage for water, pollen or nectar.

Unless you have a large number of hives, you should not have to worry much about having flowers close by.

The closer the food resources are to the hive, the more productive your colony can be. And, your bees will find food from any sources available. I love to plant flowers that honey bees like, to help them and other pollinators. Extra blooms are always a good thing and provides food diversity.

How far away from a house should a beehive be placed?

The best distance from a house for the ideal beehive location is difficult to say. Colony temperaments vary so much. Ideally, I would want my colonies to be at least 50 feet from the house or human activity.


  1. Jeremy hakim says:

    Thank you very much
    I have kept bees for 40 plus years
    I learn all the time

  2. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    All wise beekeepers continue to learn.

  3. This is my third year lots to learn

  4. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    I have been doing bees for a long time but I still have a lot to learn too. Don’t forget to have fun.

  5. Thank you for the great advice Miss Charlotte. I have wavered about whether to place my bee hives in the sun or shade. We get very hot/humid weather but the sun is so intense that my bees tend to beard if I put them in full sun. They are currently located under a large crepe mertle tree in the back corner of our fenced yard. However, hive beetles are present. I’m using beetle traps and am going to start putting in swiffer pads as well this inspection. I also am planning to build them a concrete patio to go under the hive to reduce beetle hatching. Thinking about placing it more in the sun/out from the tree shade. Thoughts?

  6. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Perhaps a happy spot in the middle. A bit more sun without being directly in the hot sun all afternoon.

  7. Interesting information! I just bought two bee hives from London Drugs, (no bees yet), and have gone from knowing nothing, (I just thought you got a bee hive, some bees, then let them do their thing), to now studying and talking to bee people about bees. I realize there is a whole lot to know about bee keeping and will not be getting the bees themselves until I get more educated about them!
    My next door neighbors got five huge bee hives two years ago, and a bear destroyed two of them, and with the last three hive, the bees all died over winter. We had a pretty brutal winter and with the strong winds we get up here, the temperature gets to be really cold out.
    I see deciding where to put them and including shelter from the wind is going to take some thinking.

  8. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    You are very wise to take the time to really understand what is involved in beekeeping. It is a wonderful hobby.

  9. Question, how do I mow around my hives? Will that disturb them to much?

  10. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Yes, it may. Most of us create an area around the hives – especially in front of them that is grass free. Also, using a battery powered string trimmer (while wearing a bee suit) is effects. It is the space in front that is the biggest issue.

  11. My husband “gifted” me 3 hives ( with bees ) last week. I left my career city job and run a tropical hilltop homestead alone. I have all the resources and assistance I may need – Beekeeper’s Bible and Beekeeping for Dummies to boot.😊 And away we goooo!!

  12. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Thats awesome! Best of luck to you!

  13. Alec Feldman says:

    Hi, my neighbor is placing 2 beehives within 2 feet of our 6 ft fence, 8 feet from our back patio, and12 feet from our house (and 100 ft from his house). My wife and I were not consulted about this. We own a dog who had a bad reaction to a bee sting a while back. While we’ve read that a fence in close proximity to a hive can redirect bees’ flight paths safely above people’s head, we’re still concerned about the potential for swarms and an elevated presence of bees in our backyard. Are our concerns legitimate or unfounded?

  14. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Assuming this is a solid fence, I would not be overly concerned about flight paths. You may have more bees in your yard but that depends on how many were there already. Anytime beehives are kept in neighborhoods, extra caution is necessary on the part of the beekeeper. If you have a good relationship with your neighbor, perhaps you could express enthusiasm for his effort to help bees – while expressing your concerns too.

  15. I love these tips—thank you!
    An additional question—if I plan on raising chickens, how far away should I keep their coop from hives?

  16. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Thank J.R. I know some folks who keep hives in the chicken pens but I would not. As long as the hives are 20 ft from the chickens – or there is a wall between the hives and chickens – I think you would be okay.

  17. First off LOVE your site! I live in the north ,what’s the best time of day work with bees?

  18. Charlotte Anderson says:

    Thank you, when possible morning inspections or at least before 2 PM are best – most of the older field bees are out working.

  19. Derek Daniel says:

    Going to start this coming spring Thankyou i learned a lot from reading this i know little on bee keeping

  20. Charlotte Anderson says:

    Best of luck to you Derek. Learn all you can before the bees arrive and this will be a big help.

  21. Sue Booher says:

    Thank you so much for your great information! It is appreciated! Being a 2nd year Beek, I have lots to learn! Again, thank you!

  22. Jeannie Munz says:

    Thank you for all the well presented info! I’m new to this world of bees and trying to learn all I can. I joined a beekeeper association and will be taking classes next month. What reading material do you recommend for us newbies? Would love to have anything you’ve published!

  23. David Goard says:

    Hi. I’m David. I’ve started a Bee Hive in the late autumn this year. I’ve just added the second stage to the Hive just after the start of spring. Since I’m on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland Australia I slowly move the Hive to a more shady part of the back of our block. Under the edge of a large ficus tree & Guava tree. The point I want to raise is that we are in the Southern Hemisphere so everything is around the other way with seasons & times to do thing. So it get a bit confusing on when to do different tasks.

  24. Charlotte Anderson says:

    Yes, your seasons are opposite ours in the US. It can be confusing.

  25. Chandraka says:

    I am a beekeeper since 1970.Your articles are very interesting and refreshes my mind.Thank you.

  26. Charlotte Anderson says:

    Thank you – there are many ways to be successful – I share what works for me.

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