Siting a beehive, where do I site a bee hive, how do I determine where it should go? I’m thinking about beekeeping. What makes a good hive site?
I read very early on, in my beekeeping career, how to choose a good site for a hive. It had to have early morning sun, then shade in the middle of the day (because of the hot English sunshine) and then evening sun. When I went on holiday to Turkey, I saw many bee hives. They were out in the middle of fields, not a bit of shade in sight, the temperature was about 120° Fahrenheit. Clearly the bees are able to control their environment quite satisfactorily.
I’ve been beekeeping since about 1988 and if I had known then what I know now, I would have started keeping bees ten years earlier. At that time I lived in an urban area in the south of London. Certainly my location wasn’t suitable to keep even one hive. In a situation like that it’s usually fairly easy, when siting a beehive, to find someone nearby with a big back garden who would like the occasional jar of honey.
When siting a beehive it’s also a good idea to put it out of sight of local people. As soon as people see there’s a beehive nearby, every bee they see is ‘your’ bee. If they get stung it’s your fault. no one worries much about the neighborhood bees going about their business, until they see the hive box. Another reason for keeping bees out of site it the risk of theft. It doesn’t happen very often, but if hives are in a rural location it’s unlikely that anyone will question someone who arrives with a truck and loads up the hives.
I had a hive in a village garden, the lady next door knew I was a beekeeper because she bought honey from me. One day her 7 foot fence blew down and she was startled to see a hive just four feet from the fence. “How long has that been there?”, she said. “About two years.”, was my reply.
Because bees leaving the hive fly over any obstacle such as the fence and stay at that height until they reach their destination, as much as a mile and a half away, she had been blissfully gardening with my bees flying backwards and forward over her head, making honey for me, and her.
To give her credit, once the fence was replaced she never mentioned it again and continued to buy my honey. Now I live in San Diego, but you too can buy my honey by clicking here.
If you live in a cool area it’s best to make sure the hives are protected from strong winds as far as possible and don’t sit in a depression in the land which can be a ‘frost pocket’. The cold air which settles in places like this will tend to shorten the working day for the bees which will affect honey production.
In some areas animals can be a problem, bears, raccoons, skunks, cattle, horses, even woodpeckers all have to be considered if they can come into contact with your bee hives. Strong fences will keep out cattle and horses, but not bears. People have used electric fences and electronic alarms which detect the body heat of a large animal and emit an ear piecing screech to frighten off intruders. I’ve had most problems from Argentine Ants which are tiny black ants. I put the legs of hive stands in cans of oil, but often the ants manage to get into the hives by crossing the oil on fallen leaves, or climbing blades of grass.
Siting a beehive in almost any situation has its challenges, many districts have regulations which restrict bee hives, it’s necessary to find out the likely issues, talk to other beekeepers who might have encountered the same problems and think or innovative ways to overcome the obstacles. It’s necessary to be resourceful when you’re a beekeeper, so consulting the members of your local club can be invaluable.