Beekeepers refer to finding a hive location as “siting.” If you are siting a hive, you really have to understand your bees, your land, yourself, your family, your neighbors, and a lot of other factors, including weather patterns. So here are some tips for properly siting your hive.
Consider the Law
Just because you own the land doesn’t mean you necessarily have a right to put in a beehive. Some towns and cities have ordinances against it. So, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local laws before you actually choose a hive location. That will save you from dealing with the headache of paying fines, relocating your hives, or even going to jail!
Consider the Sun
Although bees like some sunlight, you don’t want to bake your bees. The general rule is that bees like early morning sun, followed by shade, and then a little bit of late afternoon or early evening sun.
If you don’t have such a spot on your property, try making one. You can plant some shade trees or use other means to adjust the environment around the hive to create the ideal conditions for your bees. Also, it can give you a lot more hive placement options.
Another suggestion is to find someone nearby with a lot of land and ask them if you can keep bees on a corner of their property.
Many people are willing to do that because bees are good for their gardens – and they might get some free honey out of the deal!
Consider the Terrain
One thing that first-time beekeepers don’t often think about is that full honeycombs weigh a lot. You don’t want to have to carry them for long distances across rough terrain. So, it’s important to place them as close to the harvesting area as possible.
If that isn’t an option, you should at least make sure that you can get to and from the hive either with a wagon, cart, or preferably in a motorized vehicle. Just remember that the noise of a motor could aggravate the hive. So, bring the vehicle to a nearby location, but not right up to the hive.
Once you have harvested the honeycomb, you’ll only need to carry it a short distance to the wagon or vehicle then you can easily transport it to and from the honey extraction area. That will help prevent pulling a muscle or putting your back out trying to carry all of the honeycombs on foot.
Raise Your Hives off the Ground
It’s best to put your bee hives up on a few bricks or otherwise raise them a few inches off the ground. That will keep them from freezing, flooding or being invaded by ground insects or small animals. Many hives are accidentally killed off by improper drainage or air flow under the hive.
Hide Your Hives
It is strongly suggested that you hide your hives from prying eyes.
It’s a safe bet that your neighbors love honey, but hate getting stung by bees. As a beekeeper, you have a lot of control over the flight paths that your bees will take, but your neighbors don’t know that.
They may not be willing to listen to reason. In fact, if any bee stings them at all they might assume that it was one of your bees.
It’s not just your neighbors that you need to secure your hives from. Depending on where you live, you may have animals in the area that like honey, such as raccoons or bears. So, it’s best to place your apiary in a fenced in area or someplace that wildlife is unlikely to invade. The last thing you want is to wake up and find your hive destroyed.
Also, remember that fences won’t always be enough to keep certain animals out. You may need to install electric fences or use other means to keep your bees safe. Be creative and use your resources. Beekeeping clubs and the Internet can be great places to get ideas.
Create a Bee Haven
Create a bee haven on your own property, particularly if you want to keep your bees away from your neighbors. Have lots of flowering plants – be sure to plant a wide variety – and a decent shallow water source to encourage your bees to stay fairly close to home. Bees like having plants that flower at different times, to keep them well supplied with nectar and pollen.
Bees cannot fly when their wings get wet, so when you are creating a water source for your bees, use leaves or other light floating objects to give them something to cling to. The goal is to help your bees collect water, not to drown them.
Control Flight Paths
Controlling the flight paths of your bees is also important. For a start, don’t put the hive right next to your door, or in an area where you, your family, your pets, or your neighbors frequently travel. Also, remember that bees tend to go straight up to avoid obstacles and then they often stay at that height until they see the flowers and plants that they want. Therefore, you can use a trellis, fence, or other tall objects to get your bees to go up and over anyplace that you don’t want them.
Spread Out Your Hives
If you are planning to have two or more beehives, you should spread them out a bit. Hives that are too close together can confuse the bees and create a lot of problems. It’s best to give each hive its own little area. Then you can observe each colony separately.
As you can see, it’s not too difficult to give your bees the best possible location once you get started. If you need help, ask a local beekeeper or beekeeping club. Then you can get all the latest buzz and “bee” happy with your choice.