Location Location Location!

Tip 3: Choosing a site for your hives.

Where are you going to site your new hives? When choosing your apiary site there are a few things to consider,  keep in mind convenience to you and comfort for the bees and your neighbours. Farms and smallholdings often have odd, unused corners or awkward shaped bits of land where fields join, these can be perfect little apiaries with improvised fence and gate set up.  Orchards can be good and often there will be the extra bonus of a yearly pollination fee to be negotiated. Nature reserves, woodland and corners of larger gardens can work well too. It is best to try to keep apiaries invisible or barely visible from roads, vandalism and bee theft does unfortunately occur. Make sure that your hive is not exposed to high winds; bees in sites where there is exposure to severe weather conditions rarely thrive, so sheltered but well drained ie not in a frost pocket . If you are placing your hives in your garden keep in mind that the bees will follow a flight path, known as the beeline, you may need to consider placing a fence or windbreak around the hives to push the flight-line above head height, especially if your neighbour likes mowing the lawn close by!

Image from : Brown, R., 1988. Honey bees. 1st ed. Crowood Press: Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, p.11.

"Fedges" living fences

Avoid placing hives near horses if you can help it, if they are in a field where there are cows or sheep pick a sheltered corner of the field and create a fence around them (we like making living fences or ‘Fedges’) this will prevent hives being knocked over by curious livestock that like to use anything for a scratching post. When you have chosen your site, set up a sturdy base at a good working height where the hives won’t be too unstable with three or four supers on. There should be enough space to stack the supers by the side somewhere while working the hive, beekeeping can be a group activity so an area where a few observers or helpers can comfortably stand is always handy. Sleepers or sturdy planks propped up on bricks or breeze blocks can work well as hive stands, do not place hives directly on the ground as they will soon get damp and rot and be harder for the bees to regulate the temperature and humidity, heat can get drawn into the cold ground, there is also more risk of pest damage. If you are setting up your apiary in your garden remember to plant lots of bee friendly plants although they will fly up to 1.5 miles to forage so they will find nectar in far more places than just the garden.


Sheep and hives

From yesterdays check. Here is one of our apiaries where the fence unfortunately didn’t keep the sheep out. Sheep and hives don’t mix.