View Full Version : c) Hive placement

08-15-2008, 07:50 AM
Focus: Location, direction, stands, for hives. Things to consider when choosing an apiary site.

08-15-2008, 02:22 PM
Perfect timing Barry!!:) As I am looking around my backyard I found the perfect spot for my girls, side of the house where the house, shed, tree, and 6' fence will cause them to have to fly up 20' or so to take off. One glaring problem....the spot is 10 to 12 feet away from my A/C condenser....I would like some opinions as to whether you feel this is too close and the noise could cause mood issues with the ladies?

Michael Bush
08-15-2008, 07:43 PM
Locating hives?

"Where should I put my hive?" The problem is there isn't a simple answer. But in a list of decreasing importance I would pick these criteria with a willingness to sacrifice the less important ones altogether if they don't work out.

Safety. It's essential to have the hive where they are not a threat to animals who are chained or penned up and can't flee if they are attacked, or where they are likely to be a threat to passerbys who don't know there are hives there. If the hive is going to be close to a path that people walk you need to have a fence or something to get the bees up over the people's heads. For the safety of the bees they should be where cattle won't rub on them and knock them over, horses won't knock them over and bears can't get to them.

Convenient access. It's essential to have the hive where the beekeeper can drive right up to it. Carrying full supers that could weigh from 90 pounds (deep) down to 48 pounds (eight frame medium) any distance is too much work. The same for bringing beekeeping equipment and feed to the hives. You may have to feed as much as 50 pounds or more of syrup to each hive and carrying it any distance is not practical. Also you will learn a lot more about bees with a hive in your backyard than a hive 20 miles away at a friend's house. Also a yard a mile or two from home will get much better care than one 60 miles from home.

Good forage. If you have a lot of options, then go for a place with lots of forage. Sweet clover, alfalfa being grown for seed, tulip poplars etc. can make the difference between bumper crops of 200 pounds or more of honey per hive and barely scraping a living. But keep in mind the bees will not only be foraging the space you own, they will be foraging the 8,000 acres around the hives.

Not in your way. I think it's important the hive does not interfere with anyone's life much. In other words, don't put it right next to a well used path where, in a dearth and in a bad mood, the bees may harass or sting someone or anywhere else where you are likely to wish they weren't there.

Full sun. I find hives in full sun have fewer problems with diseases and pests and make more honey. All things being equal, I'd go for full sun. The only advantage to putting them in the shade is that you get to work them in the shade.

Out of the wind. It's nice to have them where the cold winter wind doesn't blow on them so hard and the wind is less likely to blow them over or blow off the lids. This isn't my number one requirement, but if a place is available that has a windbreak it's nice. This usually precludes putting them at the very top of a hill.

Not in a low-lying area. I don't care if they are somewhere in the middle, but I'd rather not have them where the dew and the fog and the cold settle and I really don't want them where I have to move them if there's a threat of a flood.

If you live in a very hot climate, mid afternoon shade might be a nice to have, but I wouldn't lose sleep over it.

In the end, bees are very adaptable. They really don't care, so make sure it's convenient for you, and if it's not too hard to provide, try to meet some of the other criteria. It's doubtful you'll have a place that meets all of the criteria listed above.

08-16-2008, 07:35 PM
The closer my bees were to the blackberry bush behind the hive, the more active they were. Choose a place where winter has some shelter and summer has a good breeze.

08-17-2008, 03:21 PM
For those aspiring beekeepers that do not have a backyard, 'NO BEES' laws, or land to put hives on, you will have to think of some 'creative ways' to find/locate,.land/ someone within reasonable driving distance that would,...appreciate or allow/'love' some hives of honey bees to be placed on their land. My first opportunity was from a co-worker; so friends, relatives, co-workers may be a source of 'information'. I ended up putting an 'ad' in the weekly newspapers of the nearby small towns where I live and the major daily of course. I don't think this is the best method but I was lucky that way. If you have a 'farmers market' nearby, that may be a source; Craigs List has been mentioned on Beesource. Google Maps or something similar will show areas near you that may provide great foraging for the bees. It is GOOD to have as many options as possible when locating your hives because you should have acquired information from your reading as far as,.. accessibility, compass direction, foraging area, high land/low land, protection from winter winds,..etc.

In this regard: An agreement,...a handshake [friends,relatives, co-workers], a formal, perhaps written document/legal needs to be considered.

Brent Bean
08-17-2008, 07:02 PM
MBís web page says it all. I have a few hives that are in a windy area, in summer itís not a problem but in winter it would be very tough for the bees. So I place a few bails of straw on the windward side which acts as a wind break. So far they have always come threw the winter in good shape. Without the wind break I think I would just be picking up dead outs in spring.

08-18-2008, 11:40 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Nectar_Sources_for_Honeybees#Trees_and_sh rubs

here is a site that was very helpful to me they have lots of things on bees and other plants nice chart telling which plants are major and minor

here where we live Black locust they get allot of honey but the Dep of natural Resources says its an evasive plant.

08-18-2008, 12:10 PM
I have been told that black locust nectar washes out easily and since here it is a very early bloomer (during the most rainy part of our season) it is hard to get any of the water white honey the nectar produces.:( Due to a fluke dry spring the first year I pulled honey I had one shallow super that was completely full of locust honey...got one gallon out of the super....you could read a newspaper thru the gallon jar. Very beautiful with an extremely delicate flavor. We however prefer darker more flavorful honeys like alfalfa. (And no I have never fed with a super on.):) While looking for city code/laws concerning beekeeping (there are none!! leave that all up to the state) I discovered it is illegal to plant a black locust tree in the city limits:mad:

08-18-2008, 12:22 PM
I wouldn't worry about the A/C condenser. Bees respond to vibration. They don't have ears. The distance sounds fine to me.

08-21-2008, 09:52 PM
You may bee able to slide a small smooth board under the drip drain, remember an air conditioner is also a de-humidifier. That way you don't run up your water bill. However you may live in an arid part of Oklahoma and you will need to supliment this free water during cool periods.:)

09-02-2008, 05:32 AM
a site that is well drained (certain diseases are associated with wet locations) and accessable year round.

if I kept bees in town (which I don't) my first concern would be placing them in some spot where they would be difficult to impossible to see. out of sight.. out of mind.

11-04-2008, 09:33 PM
What about placing hives under an elevated roof? Shelter house idea. Have even seen some videos where the hive is inside but the front porch is outside. Winter protection I suppose, and possibly a way to increase the life of the wooden hive body? Just guessing. Would definately keep the snow and wind out.

11-06-2008, 07:50 AM
If you are in a city/town, first check the ordinances to determine if beekeeping is allowed at all and whether there are specific requirements. For example, where I live you can have 4 hives per 1/4 acre of lot, they must be 20 feet from the property line and there must be a 6 foot barrier between the hive and the direction of the hive opening. Some people ignore ordinances, thinking that they don't matter unless somebody complains. I am not your boss, and I can't tell you what to do, but that approach could lead to problems.

Assuming there are no regulations, then, in town, I would try to put them out of sight and away from the property line.

Only after you worry about the neighbors should you start thinking about considerations like shade, etc.

AR Beekeeper
11-08-2008, 07:23 PM
New beekeepers should rember that there are very few "perfect" locations, so just make the best of what you have to work with. What I value in a site is full sun, the ability to drive within carrying distance and a level work area.

Stands should be used to raise the colony above ground. The distance varies with the height of the person that will be doing inspections but I think 6 inches would be the minimum distance. My preference is one colony per stand and stands at least 6 feet apart, but that is a personal preference. I like to make stands out of treated wood, 2 x 4 legs with 1 x 4 frame work.

The direction a colony faces is not critical so face it in the direction that is best for you and your neighbors. Plan for increase, plan to reduce drift by facing enterances in different directions and give yourself enough room to work and mow the grass.

Michael Bush
11-09-2008, 03:21 PM
>New beekeepers should rember that there are very few "perfect" locations, so just make the best of what you have to work with. What I value in a site is full sun, the ability to drive within carrying distance and a level work area.

Exactly. There are very few "perfect' locations, so it's a matter of a "best compromise".

01-25-2009, 09:45 AM
For those folks up north (I'm in Maine) you might want to consider more sun then shade. I started out with my first Colony in a shady spot and it sputtered all spring. Then after a friend suggested I move it into full sun things started to kick into gear. Now a flow might have picked up at that time too but the difference was quite dramatic.

Since then I've run screened bottom boards, and I prop up the top in the summer. Heat never seems to be an issue, even on those handful of 90+ days.

That and in the winter they get more sun which help keep the colony warm.


01-25-2009, 03:20 PM
In Ed Weiss' book "The Queen and I" he mentions it's best to face the entrance south to southeast. The early morning sun coming in the entrance gets them out to work just a little sooner. Anybody else notice any difference with this?

01-25-2009, 06:46 PM
I'm also in Maine and have limited "ideal" space for the few hives I'm getting this spring.

No front or back yard to speak of with the road close in front on the south and steep, wooded hillside to swamp right in back on the north side. East side (morning sun) is a narrow strip between my attached barn and the neighbors' and bees there would be inconsiderate.

Leaves the long, narrow open side yard which holds my 50' x 90' garden. Full sun would place the hives smack in the middle of a working garden. I have a narrow strip between the garden fence on the north side and the steep hillside. This would place the hives just outside the garden but under the drip line of the trees. Hives would be in almost full sun all winter but shaded during the mid-summer days when the sun is at full height.

This is my likely location for the hives and I've thought that I'd build a 6' high fence made of screening along the fence to get the bees up and overhead while working the beds in the garden just a few feet away from the hive entrance.

The only alternatives are the corner of the garden near the house which would receive only afternoon sun or in the center of the garden behind the huge lilac where it would receive morning and afternoon sun, shaded only at midday and have a gardener (me) working with hoes and garden trowels right next to the hives.

I've never had to work before in such close proxiomity to hives before except many years ago when we mowed hay once or twice a year right in front of 6 or 7 hives.


02-09-2009, 07:24 AM
A supply of water is a necessity if any of your neighbors have a swimming pool, even a couple of blocks away. Your bees will find it. A birdbath works O.K. but ya have to remember to keep water in it.

02-10-2009, 03:07 PM
i am looking to place my hives about 20 ft from a semi traveled road in the summer, we get alot of busses traveling down it and once in a while delivery trucks. monster sanders and plows in the winter. this road is not a highway is a local through way. we have 15ft abrovites blocking our yard from the street. will this traffic be a problem. and if so is there any kind of shock absorbers it could rest on? i have no other option of placement.

walking bird
02-11-2009, 02:03 PM
I don't think they care much about the sound and vibrations of the trucks, if that's what you're worried about. There's a thriving feral hive in an oak tree limb directly in the middle of our local building supply yard, which is full of big trucks all day long.

02-16-2009, 09:09 AM
Focus: Location, direction, stands, for hives. Things to consider when choosing an apiary site.

I usually put 30 - 50 hives in a site. What I look for is property with 5 acers or more, accessabilty with my truck that has a knack of getting stuck in even a pot hole, and southern exposure with north protection. I stay away from property with live stock (cows, horses, ect.).

I place the colonies on wooden pallets and face them south to west depending on location and convenience.

consider if bears or other predators are a problem, take the right measures. If vandalization will be a problem then don't even keep bees there (I wish we could shoot vandals). keep hives out of areas with a history of flooding. keep the grass in the yard mowed and away from the entrance of the hives. keep the yard clean.

02-16-2009, 09:27 AM
It's obvious that you are coming at this as one who runs a business in beekeeping. Some of your points should be concerns for the beginner as well. Another point to be aware of are swimming pools. I went to go look at a possible property for placing hives and noticed the neighbor had a swimming pool. Even though the forage area was great, I declined to use the yard due to the pool in the area. Bees and pool owners don't usually go well together.

02-16-2009, 09:37 AM
Barry, any idea what the connection is between Bees and Pools? Is there an attraction to the clorine?

I have a stream that has water in it all season long and some of the girls will prefer to fly 1/4 -1/2 mile to the nearest pool. Thankfully the owner loves bees and rescues the ones she finds floating out there.

02-16-2009, 10:14 AM
It's obvious that you are coming at this as one who runs a business in beekeeping. Some of your points should be concerns for the beginner as well. Another point to be aware of are swimming pools. I went to go look at a possible property for placing hives and noticed the neighbor had a swimming pool. Even though the forage area was great, I declined to use the yard due to the pool in the area. Bees and pools don't usually go well together.

But that which is good for 30 - 50 hives is good for a few hives too and vice versa. I was a beginner once myself.

About swimming pools, the complaints from the owners of the pool would bee the only problem, the few bees one would lose is nothing to worry about and the chlorine content is not a problem either as is so diluted. bees will prefer pool water for the same reason they prefer the run off of manure pile or salt licks, they, like all living creatures need electrolytes.

02-16-2009, 10:22 AM
But that which is good for 30 - 50 hives is good for a few hives too and vice versa. I was a beginner once myself.

I'll have to disagree. The purpose for the forum is "getting started". The needs and concerns for one just starting out are quite different in some areas than one like yourself who may be running quite a bit more. A beginner will more than likely be keeping their hives in their backyard, unlike those that have more than 10 hives. That in itself brings up unique issues.

02-16-2009, 10:45 AM
But we are talking about conditions not number of hives and a back yard will usually meet those conditions. On the other hand, if that back yard is in a resadential area, it might not be ideal either, one hive is enough to disgruntle neighbors.

Robert Brenchley
02-25-2009, 01:16 PM
Everything depends on the strain you have in that sort of situation. I'm extremely fussy about good temper since I'm on an allotment site with neighbours. If I get a hive which stings at all when I stand immediately in front of it, or makes any effort to sting during inspections (I don't count stings on my hands) then I requeen it. If you face hives into a hedge or solid fence so the bees have to fly up above head height as soon as they come out of the hive that makes a big difference.

03-30-2011, 09:22 PM
I'm in agreement with others on several points. I look for an area with plenty of sunlight, especially early morning. I like sun on their doorstep to warm them up and get them working. I've heard time and again how full sun reduces a variety of problems including mite load and hive beetles. I've no evidence to prove otherwise. I generally point the hives South, East, and West in clusters to reduce drifting. I don't mind evening shade, especially in the heat of summer. Truck accessibility is a must. I like to keep the hives on a level section of ground, preferably out of sight from roads. I'm paranoid of vandalism, and wouldn't appreciate it at all. I do pay attention to forage, but a lot of times it can be over thought. Bees have a large forage area, and are experts at finding food. Protection from strong winds is definitely a plus.

Ron Mann
07-01-2011, 10:54 AM
I am just now starting my 2nd year as a beekeeper. I live on a dead end county road with out much traffic. The property line fence follows the road and there was a large dogwood in that fence line. I placed my hives there where they get shade from 1:00 PM till dark. The hive entrances are faceing the east. The location is over the spine of the ridge line, so they are protected from the west wind. I have also let some sappling and undergrowth grow up in the fence line to give them some extra protection from storms and wind, if need be.

Ron Mann
07-01-2011, 11:24 AM
Looking from the front yard


Looking from the road.


So far it has worked for me and the bees seem happy where they are located.

07-12-2011, 04:44 AM
I live in a windy area, with the farm being worse yet! They are building wind turbine towers all around us. Right now, the best spot has been on the east side of the garage, but as the number of hives grow, I'm looking for another solution. We are on a hill at the farm and get wind from any direction in the winter. I am considering putting a privacy fence to the west in a u shape, with another stretch to the east for those easterly days.

How far from the hives would you place the fences?

07-25-2011, 12:04 PM
Leave at least 4-6 ft so that you can work on them from the back. Face the front entrances of the hives to East-South direction.

08-11-2011, 07:51 AM
Glad that I read that.

New Ky Beekeeper
08-21-2011, 07:33 AM
I am just now starting my 2nd year as a beekeeper. I live on a dead end county road with out much traffic. The property line fence follows the road and there was a large dogwood in that fence line. I placed my hives there where they get shade from 1:00 PM till dark. The hive entrances are faceing the east. The location is over the spine of the ridge line, so they are protected from the west wind. I have also let some sappling and undergrowth grow up in the fence line to give them some extra protection from storms and wind, if need be.

Sounds perfect. I too keep mine in fence rows, but they have full sun from dawn to dusk and have had more production out of these hives than the hives I have placed in shaded areas...... Don't know why that is.....


08-23-2011, 03:19 PM
Beehives should be placed on the Earth's laylines ;)

10-13-2011, 08:46 AM
How far from people must you place a beehive? Also, can you mow around bee hives without causing a problem?

Michael Bush
10-13-2011, 12:38 PM
I've had bees right by my back door that people walked right by that were never a problem. I've had bees that were 150 yards from the house and that was way too close. Both were Buckfasts from different times.

10-13-2011, 01:24 PM
Wow, so it is a real variable that is hard to quantify. My hives will be located in a meadow, approximately 50 - 75 feet from the edge of my yard, and about 150 - 200' from the rear of my house. Would it help if I face the entrances away from the yard and the house?

Michael Bush
10-13-2011, 11:47 PM
It always helps to face the hive away from any path that would bring people close. I would put them 50 feet from my back door and not think anything of it, but if they were every being hot, I would requeen immediately.

10-16-2011, 08:34 PM
I have my hives fenced in along the back of a metal work shop with a line of trees along the property line about 30 feet away. It has worked great till the trees grew out and started to shade the hives. Now I am trimming back the branches every year. It is still a great place for the hives but it is a little more work than before. If your hives are going to there for a few years check that they won't get shaded as trees grow up around them.
The good points about having the hives back there is that you can't see them from the road or neighbor's property, I extract in the shop and the bees have to fly almost straight up over the shop to forage.

02-22-2013, 12:50 PM
So much information...love it ....great help with some of my decisions...I am in a cul-de-sac and have a 2 acre yard side back..I also have a pool..want to put the hive about 25 feet from my veg. garden which is beyond the pool with the appropriate electric fencing...we had a bear run through the side yard once a few years ago don't want to take any chances.....i am going to put a bird bath in the fenced area of the hive.. will they will still go for the pool.... and that area is out of site of the road and the neighbors...i was thinking of putting landscape fabric around the hive enclosure to minimize the intrusion of mowing..anyone else tried that is it worth the effort?

02-27-2013, 08:38 AM
great thread. thanks to all who have been so helpful.

i live in a neighborhood and the city allows the hobbyist beekeeper to keep 1-5 hives on the property, so long as the home owner is the one managing the hive... Check.

in my south east corner along my fence are two pie cherry trees. the space between these two trees are where i plan to place my HTBH. this area gets good sun and great evening shade. it's also next to a large flower bed and my cascade hops. :)

question 1: will placing a hive under two parallel trees (approximately 10-12 feet apart) affect their flight path? perhaps there are some more intangibles one would need to know before answering? it's not heavily branched...some branches do hang low enough where one could grab some cherries if he/she so wished....

question 2. underground sprinklers. i will have to rework and redirect my pop up sprinkler heads so it doesn't get on the bees. thankfully, i should be able to do this before the bees arrive and work out any shenanigans. they're timed to go off at 3:30-4:30

i also have an apple tree and a plum tree on my property.

lastly, about a mile away and just across the street neighbor's of mine of pools. i already plan to put out a 4 gallon chicken water feeder by the hive...heck, i could even hang it close the front of the hive.

i guess we'll see. i have to go to those neighbors and let them know i have a hive and see what happens.

02-27-2013, 09:07 AM

i wanted to post this for those that are not lucky enough to come across it like me. i think it mirrors a great deal of what has been said here already...

it's from www.beethinking.com

Top bar hive placement consists in setting up the hive in a location that is ideal for both the bees and the beekeeper. Here we'll discuss the determining factors when placing your first top bar hive.

Top Bar Hive Placement: There are many factors to consider when placing any bee hive, however, horizontal top bar hives have some unique needs that should be addressed when deciding upon the final location.

Easy Access: While there are many "requirements" on the traditional "hive placement checklist," I think one of the most important factors to consider is ease of access for you, the beekeeper. The bees are adaptable, and can overcome just about any inconvenience you throw their way. If the location makes it difficult for you to enjoy the hive, and especially if it makes it difficult for you to work in the hive, this is a major issue. You will want a location that is free of obstructions on the backside of the hive (the side with the window), with at least 2-3 feet of space so that you can stand and squat comfortably. I assure you that you will spend more time than you know knelt down with friends and family while eagerly looking through the window to see the progress your bees are making. Try and provide enough space for at least 2-3 people to fit comfortably while looking through the window.

Level Ground: Horizontal top bar hives are foundationless, and the bees build their comb perpendicular to the ground. If your hive is on a slope, the comb will be equally sloped. Make sure you either place the hive on level ground, or place garden tiles, rocks or scrap wood under the legs to make it as level as possible. This also makes it easier for you to access the hive without fumbling up and down a hill.

Early Morning Sun: While this doesn't apply to extremely hot areas, it is generally agreed upon that hives are more successful with more sun than less. If you have to choose between early morning sun and afternoon sun, go with early morning sun, as this will get the hive active earlier in the day, and provide them with more time to gather resources.

Safety: If you live in an urban or suburban area and you feel there is potential danger to either the bees or people, be sure to place the hive in a relatively concealed area -- preferably one that is fenced off. Many beekeepers who live in the city like to point the entrance of the hive toward a fence or a hedge

Wind: Ideally the hive will be placed in a location that is protected from harsh winds billowing into the hive entrances during the winter. Due to the leg configuration and weight, our hives are very sturdy and we've had no issues with hives being toppled by high winds.

Water: If you live in an arid region -- especially one where pools are prevalent -- this is consideration is more important. Bees need water to use within the hive, and they, being opportunists, will frequent the closest reliable water source, regardless of how inconvenient it is for you or your neighbors. If the closest water source is your neighbor's pool or bird bath, the bees will be more than willing to use them. If this matters to you, make sure you provide them with a shallow-sloped water source. Bird baths work very well!

Forage: Obviously if you plan to keep bees in your back yard you will have little control over the nectar and pollen sources available to your colony, but an important consideration nonetheless. We've had greater success with our colonies placed in urban and suburban areas, largely due to the abundance and variety of flower plants available in parks, gardens and yards. Rural areas, especially areas with heavy agriculture, generally have less forage available due to the use of mono crops, pesticides and fungicides.

Legality: The last, and maybe one of the most important factors, is whether it is legal to keep bees in your area. Many cities still outlaw beekeeping outright, or make the licensing process incredibly difficult for the beekeeper. Check your city, county and state laws prior to investing in a beehive and bees, and then make a decision accordingly. Keep in mind that a number of areas have antiquated laws explicitly banning the use of any hives but Langstroth or frame beehives. While I don't know of anyone being accosted over such silly regulations, it's still something to keep in mind.

02-27-2013, 09:50 AM
What is considered "too close " to animals in pens ? We raise a pig or two on occasion and the pen we have set up for them is a permanent structure that can not be moved .

Michael Bush
02-27-2013, 10:12 AM
A defensive reaction by bees can escalate. It's hard to say how far is safe as different bees have different reactions, but my general rule is that they need to be able to run away. How far? I guess that depends on how far they CAN, but the further the better. I have had bees that would be very defensive at quite some distance, but I didn't keep those, I requeened them. I would say the closer your animals are, the more serious you need to take defensive bees. The think you are trying to prevent is when the bees have a defensive colony reaction to the animal and they get stung to death. You not only lose the animal (sad) and they suffer (sad) but you lose a lot of bees in the process (also sad).