As you plan for the arrival of your new bees, you have many exciting things to consider. Is your equipment ready? Do you have all the tools and protective clothing needed?
But one factor that is sometimes overlooked is hive placement. While any beehive can be moved to another location, the beekeeper and the bees will be better off when it can be avoided.
Save yourself the hassle and spend some time considering where to place your hive.
Choosing the best beehive location
Location, location, location. Finding the best location for a beehive is incredibly important in beekeeping. Some beekeeping books will give you guidelines for finding the perfect spot, but, perhaps you do not have a perfect spot.
That’s okay, there is still hope. Bees do not require perfect conditions. And, beehives can be kept almost anywhere.
Before setting up your hive, and well before bees arrive, take a critical look around and choose the best area your have for your hive.
Ensure proper space around the hive
Honeybees will forage for miles around the hive. Once they are away from the hive, they peacefully work gathering nectar, pollen, and other hive needs.
However, the area near the hive entrance can be congested with bee traffic. Some colonies are calm and do not mind sharing the backyard with people and pets. Other bee colonies will be more protective about the space nearby their home. To avoid stinging situations, place your beehive in an area that is not used by kids or pets at play.
If space is limited, a privacy fence (as tall as the hive) is a good option. This screens the hive entrance from view and it screens the view of you from the bees.
The front of the beehive will be the biggest danger zone. Never place the hive entrance close to walkaways or other areas of human activity.
Provide a water source
Honeybees are very resourceful.T hey will seek out the resources needed for colony growth, like water and use it to cool the hive and to thin honey for eating.
In many regions, bees do a great job of finding natural water sources. In fact, they may find a small stream or seep that you did not know exists.
However, by providing a clean water source near the hives, you may prevent them from using polluted waters. Providing suitable water near the hives can also reduce the chance of your bees going astray.
Some beekeepers, like myself, have small water gardens that the bees enjoy. This provides a small ecosystem with plants and fish. An oasis of fun for me and the bees.
Observation of the bee yard
As beekeepers, we want to give the bees space to carry on their hive activities without interruptions from us. Despite this, we still need to be able to observe the hives. So place your hive in a space that is easily accesible.
If you live in a region with bears, you may need an electric bear fence to protect your bees. If a bear discovers your beehives, they often will destroy one hive and return on subsequent nights until all the hives are gone.
So, be sure to choose a beehive location that will allow for easy and periodic observation. You may notice a problem that requires further inspection, but it is also just a lot of fun to watch the hive entrance as the bees go about the day’s work.
Building or purchasing a hive stand is a good investment for any beekeeper, as raising the hive up off the ground has several advantages.
First, this prolongs the life of your wooden hive components. It also reduces the moisture in the hive and increases air flow. Ventilation is very important for the health of bee colonies.
A hive that is raised up off the ground about 18 inches will have fewer problems from predators, but most of all, your back will thank you. In years to come, you will reap the benefits of not having to bend over and lift those heavy bee boxes.
Master beekeeper Charlotte Anderson shares her love of all things honeybee. She helps others become better beekeepers and teaches new beekeepers how to get started. Her mission is to spread awareness of the importance of honeybees. She is a former Beekeeper of the Year in South Carolina.