Deciding Where to Put Your Beehive
Have you been “bitten” by the beekeeping bug? Perhaps, it is time to fulfill your desire to raise bees and produce honey. Management of a couple of hives does not require an enormous investment of time or space. Common sense decisions help make your beekeeping a success.
Once you have decided to “go for it”, its time to decide where to put your beehive.
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The Perfect Location For Your Beehive
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. You just need to find the best location for your bees within your situation.
Cities, suburbs and rural landscapes can provide good placement for beehives. For most new beekeepers contemplating their first hives, finding a good location should not prove too difficult.
If you feel that you do not have the perfect location, do some research into what is needed and allowed in your area. Give careful consideration to all of your options before giving up.
Some beekeeping groups develop community bee yards enabling members to fulfill their dreams of having a hive, even if they do not have a proper location at their home.
Give The Bees Enough Room to Be
When deciding where to put your beehive, choose a placement that will not interfere with everyday life. Even gentle easy to manage honey bees can become testy and defensive at times. A beehive with 60,000 bees is not a good item to have sitting right outside your back door.
Beehives are heavy. You can move hives but it is much better if you don’t have to. Your neighbors and family members may not experience the “bee euphoria” that is enveloping you.
Some Ideas For Beehive Placement
As I mentioned before, honey bees are very adaptable and can live almost anywhere.
You may find a perfect hive location even if you live in a big city. Yes, even in the city!
Some urban beekeepers have hives on the rooftops of buildings. 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. Often, city dwellers are unaware that a functioning beehive is located in their neighborhood.
Again, another option for city dwellers is to find a local beekeeping association. Some beekeeping associations develop community bee yards for their members to have a couple of colonies! How cool is that!
Some beekeepers plant a line of shrubs on 3 sides of their bee yards. Others opt for outdoor privacy screens which require less maintenance than a living shrub. But then, a shrub is more likely to catch a bee swarm if one leaves your hive ! Artificial shrubs are also an option.
Ideas For Privacy Screens for Your Beehives
Those of us who live in rural settings have more options. Deciding where to put your beehive is not as difficult with a lot of open space. Of course, there are a few municipalities that do not allow honey bee hives. Check with your local authorities before investing in beekeeping.
Does your community have other beekeepers? They can be a great resource to help you decide where to put your beehive. Learn from other beekeepers, they can give valuable suggestions. Local beekeepers will know if any climate issues affect good hive placement.
Start small with a couple of hives. Beekeepers who invest in too many hives at once, have more problems. A beekeeper with a large numbers of hives in one location will benefit from having a larger area to work with.
Do I Need A lot of Flowers ?
Where you put your beehive doesn’t have to be near a field of wildflowers. New beekeepers feel concerned about living in the city or a heavily wooded area with few blooms. What will the bees eat ?
The simple answer is yes most locations will support a few beehives. The bees will fly up to a mile (and more) to forage for water, pollen and nectar.
So it is not necessary to have a lot of flowers in your yard. Yet the closer the resources are to the hive, the more productive your colony can be.
I love to plant flowers that help honeybees and other pollinators. An important part of beekeeping is connecting with nature and understanding the balance. I can plant flowers that bloom when native nectar sources are not available.
Place Your Beehives On A Stand
No matter where your hive is located, it needs to be off the ground. Some beekeepers build sturdy wooden stands. When deciding where to put my beehives, I knew I wanted them up off the ground for easier lifting.
Remember, your hive will have more than 1 or 2 boxes if it does well. Will you be able to lift 50-75 pounds boxes off the top during honey harvest time?
Most of my beehives are sitting on top of 2 cement blocks (16″ high) with a couple of landscape timbers on top to hold the hive. My total height from ground to bottom board is about 19″.
A couple of colonies are sitting on sturdy wooden stands. Any method will work but be sure your stand is capable of holding several hundred pounds. A hive stand that tips over is not a fun experience.
A simple plastic hive stand can be a good choice for some beekeepers. They are sturdy enough to hold the hives and easy to relocate if you have to move. Most importantly, they do elevate the hive off the ground.
This will protect your beekeeping equipment from ground moisture. I would elevate a stand like this on cement blocks to raise it up a bit more.
How Many Bee Colonies – In My Backyard?
How many bee colonies can you have in one location?
That depends on your climate and foraging conditions. Check with local beekeepers in your area and have realistic goals.
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.
Best Location For A Beehive- Practical Considerations
Bee hives can be kept almost anywhere but should they? Location, location, location is very important in beehive placement.
When deciding where to put your beehive consider bee management tasks and bee health. Safety for the bees, people and the beekeeper must be considered. Some locations will be better than others – even within your own yard.
If you try to work most of the guidelines into your location, life will be easier for you and the bees. Taking into account the following ideas will also help you learn where you can not put your beehive.
Beehive placement is a serious decision. They can be moved but it is not an easy undertaking and can confuse your bees.
Accessibility To The Bees
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.
If you need to feed your honey bees, a couple of gallons of sugar water can be carried to the hives. More hives will require more feed. 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.
Beehive Placement and Predators
Do you have natural predators in your area? We have black bears and I have an electric fence. Will you need to protect your bees by building a fence. It’s not just the animal predators that are a concern.
What about human predators? Every year I hear of beekeepers who have had beehives stolen. When you are considering “where to put my beehive”, try to find a close location that you can watch. If your bee yard is located out of sight, it might be a good idea to not tell everyone where your beehives are placed.
Which Direction Should My Beehive Face?
Most beekeeping books will tell you to place your beehive so that the entrance 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.
Beekeepers like to see their bees out working early on those first few warm Spring days. In fact, I recommend the same in my Online Beekeeping Class.
Don’t get to hung up on this suggestion if it doesn’t fit your location. But, don’t face the entrance in the direction of cold winter winds.
Honey Bee Hives Need Good Ventilation
Ventilation is an important consideration often overlooked. 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 water source.
Please remember, bees can fly– they don’t have to be right next to the creek. Quick access to water for bees is a good thing but place hives in a location with good air flow and out of the flood plain.
Do You Need A Windbreak?
Cold winter winds can be a problem. As I was deciding where to put my beehives this was one issue that was not a problem. Here in the foothills of the South Carolina Mountains, I don’t need a windbreak. I have very little flat land. However, those of you who live in windy cold climates might consider providing some protection for your colonies. . A windbreak can be a structure such as a wall or a living wall of greenery.
Should You Put Your Beehive 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. Placing beehives in hot sun makes the bees work harder to cool it during Summer days. But Small Hive Beetles seem to prefer hives that are in the shade.
Placing your colony in the sunniest location possible may help with beetle control. If shade is all you have, beekeepers with beetle activity will need to be more proactive.
These are my very best thoughts on where to put your beehive ? You don’t need a perfect location. Take all the guidelines into consideration and choose the best spot that you have !