Where to place your beehive is one of the first decisions you will make after taking up beekeeping. You should consider numerous factors before settling on a long-term home for your bees.
Paying attention to each one can help your bees to thrive. Do NOT just place it in a random spot in your backyard and hope for the best.
Place your beehive somewhere easily accessible, in a location that receives morning sunlight and is not subject to any substantial wind. This will protect the hive from harsh weather conditions and ensure your bees remain active. You should also alert your neighbors you are getting a hive and check your local council regulations so you can adhere to any siting restrictions.
1. Bees Love The Morning Sun
Warmth is essential for Bees. They need a body temperature of at least 35°C or 95°F to fly. That’s why you’ll notice less activity from your beehive during the colder months.
For this reason, it is best to have the entrance of your hive facing the morning sun. Bees are active in the morning. The sun will stimulate your bees, and get them moving early so they can maximize the collection of nectar and pollen. The more hours of morning sun they can get, the better.
2. Give The Beehive Protection From Wind
Strong winds hamper the bees’ ability to fly and therefore their ability to collect nectar and pollen. Heavy winds can also topple your beehive or blow off the cover, which could be disastrous for your colony. I keep a heavy brick on the lid of my hive to secure it.
Even if you weigh down your hive, you still need to consider wind when choosing where to place it. Try to avoid anywhere which attracts strong drafts and look for a location close to a shed or tree line to give the hive some protection against the wind.
3. Allow For Easy Access To The Hive Location
Your chosen location must be easily accessible. You will visit the site regularly to check on the hive – I explain more about hive inspections in a separate article.
From time to time, you may also need to be able to carry heavy equipment or supers full of honey to and from the hive.
Leave enough space around the outside of your hive, so you have room to access the colony from any side. Cut down any long grass and make sure you keep it low, especially from the front of the hive. The bees need a clear landing area. If you choose to elevate your hive, I recommend taking into account how tall you are when determining how high to keep it off the ground.
4. Check With Your Council Or Local Government
It’s worth contacting your local council or governing authority to find out the regulations about keeping bees in your area before you even purchase your first hive. Laws differ from country to country and state to state. Some areas may have strict rules which could affect your decision to take up beekeeping. Others may be far more relaxed.
Your local government can tell you everything you need to know about the relevant legal restrictions. This will include where you can and cannot place your hive, how many hives you are allowed to have according to the size of your land, and how close to a neighboring fence or house you can place your hive.
5. Consider Your Climate
You also need to consider the climate you live, as it plays an essential role in deciding where you place your hive. Is it boiling warm in summer or freezing in winter? Will your bees have both sun and shade to avoid the weather extremes? You want to choose the best location for your hive so your bees can be kept happy, healthy, and productive – which can change depending on the time of the year.
|If you live in an area with hot summers, it’s best to locate the hive near some trees that will provide shade during the warmest part of the day. Providing shade during the hottest part of the day will help the colony more easily maintain a constant temperature. As a result, your bees will be under less stress – and more productive||During winter, your hive needs to receive sunlight too. Too much shade and the bees will have to expend more energy to keep the colony warm. This could also cause the hive to be subject to mold, as bees breathe out moisture as we do.|
6. Move Your Hive To Avoid Extreme Temperatures
Depending upon where you live and your climate, you may consider moving your hive from its regular site in the summer to another location during the winter. For instance, if your climate is tropical, you can move your hive to a shady part of the yard during summer. This will ensure your bees can continue to live in the best conditions possible all year round. Just remember, to get advice from an experienced beekeeper in your area before deciding to move a beehive.
7. Raise Your Beehive Off The Ground
Leaving your beehive directly on the ground makes it easier for predators to access it. Mice and ants can be a pain and cause issues with your hive.
The other reason you want to keep your hive off the ground is to protect it from getting damp if there is heavy rain, and puddles form at the bottom. It also provides better ventilation in the hot weather, allowing some air to flow underneath.
To keep it elevated, you can make a simple beehive stand yourself from bricks or cinder blocks. Alternatively, you can buy an adjustable stand such as this one that works well for an 8 or 10-frame Langstroth hive. Just make sure the stand is stable, as you don’t want to risk the hive being knocked over by heavy winds.
I tend to keep my hive about a foot (30 cm) off the ground. Any higher would make it difficult for me to reach inside as I am quite short. If you are tall you can elevate it a little further, but you don’t want it too high off the ground to make it unstable.
8. Ensure There Is A Fresh Source Of Water Located Nearby
Like all living creatures, honeybees need water. This becomes especially important during warmer months. While bees can travel up quite a distance for water, you should ensure you have a clean source for them to drink a lot closer to their hive. Traveling that far for water is tiring work and the bees won’t have as much energy to forage for essential pollen and nectar.
Providing your bees with multiple clean water sources will ensure they don’t have to search elsewhere for it. You don’t want them to rely on a neighbor’s swimming pool or dog bowl. This can create problems. You don’t want your bees drinking chlorinated water – but you also don’t want your neighbors complaining that their kids were stung while swimming.
To avoid this problem, find a few spots in your backyard close to your hive and place a container filled with fresh water. I use saucers and the bases of pot plants filled with water, but any small, shallow container will work well. Place stones or pebbles in the container for the bees to land on. Another alternative is a birdbath with some sticks or rocks as landing pads. Just make sure the water is replenished when needed.
9. Face Away From Nearby People And Houses
While bees generally stay within 3 km or 2 miles of their hive to forage, they have been known to travel much further in search of nectar and pollen. That’s why you should consider the area surrounding your property, as well as your backyard itself.
It’s a good idea to keep your hive from facing roads, footpaths or garden paths where the bees will likely establish a flight path and run into unhappy pedestrians or vehicles. You should also keep it at least a few meters (around 10 feet) away from the house. Don’t place it too close to windows or doors, as you don’t want uninvited bees coming into your home. Bees can fly quite high, but gathering enough momentum takes them a few feet so they might run into objects like houses.
10. Keep Your Backyard Clean
While your bees will keep the interior of their hive in a very clean condition, they will drop their excrement as they fly. Of course, this will not cause as big of a mess as a bird might. However, I would still ensure your bees’ flight path is not over your washing line, or your clothes and sheets will have bee poop which looks like orange-color spots.
11. Check With Your Neighbors
As a beekeeper, you have a duty of care to your neighbors. You need to ensure that your hive will not be a nuisance to them. It’s an excellent idea to keep ‘calm’ bees. An aggressive colony will be harder for you to manage and increase the chance of a problem with your neighbors.
When purchasing bees, opt for a gentle bee package from your seller. Bee sellers can be found on the internet, or you might find a contact by talking to your local beekeeping club members. When buying bees, contact the seller and ask if you can go and inspect them first. Get someone experienced in beekeeping to go with you to see they are indeed a passive colony. Here’s a whole post about getting bees.
You should also follow any guidelines your government has concerning keeping bees. For instance, Australia has an Apiary Code of Practice for each state and territory. It outlines the best way to keep bees so they will not be a problem to others. If you are following this Code of Practice and there’s a complaint, and you can show you are following the code for your state, then you most likely will be supported by those investigating.
Final Thoughts On Beehive Location
As you can see, there are many things to consider when placing a hive on your property. Make sure you consider each of these factors when setting your beehive. This will give your bees optimal conditions in which they can thrive, and a positive experience for you!