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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    7,000 feet, Zuni Mountains, New Mexico
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    10

    Default Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    I'm a fairly new beekeeper who started out with three hives this year. I built 3 hive stands, each stand holds two hives. We are trying to decide if we should place the hive stands at random throughout the 15 acre property or if we should keep them together and create a bee yard, so to speak. If we wanted to use the bear fence, I suppose we should keep them concentrated, but it seems that keeping a bunch of bees together might create opportunities for robbing, etc. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,944

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    Some beekeepers have awful problems with robbing - many don't. I think attention to some basics like how you feed and keeping the colonies strong will go a long way toward keeping robbing from being an issue. There is some evidence (Tom Seeley) that spreading out your colonies over considerable distance reduces the sharing of pests and diseases. But if bears are a worry in your area, your bees should be behind a bear fence. Multiple quality energizers and grounding systems will get expensive quick!
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Larimer County, CO, USA
    Posts
    158

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    If you live in bear country I would build a really good bear exclosure. Being spread out with no protection, your hives will likely become a smorgasbord for the bears. Research your bear exclosure really well. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has a really good brochure on building a bear exclosure for beehives.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    7,000 feet, Zuni Mountains, New Mexico
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    New Mexico Game and Fish has provided a solar powered bear fence at no charge. We haven't used it, though. Perhaps we should consider putting the hives in a bee yard, huh? We are currently using 8 frame and 10 frame Langstroth hives, but we have plans to try a few Warre and Top Bar hives as well. What would be the maximum number of hives that you guys/girls would recommend placing in one bee yard?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,659

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    Bee yard. Everything at one location just makes sense.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,584

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    Do what is the most convenient for you. Have you ever seen a commercially kept apiary w/ 40 to 400 hives in one place close to each other w/ 4 or 6 hives almost touching each other on pallets? No robbing problems.

    Especially if you anticipate a problem w/ bears you are going to want to keep your hives close together so building one fence rather than three can be done.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,944

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    The number of hives you'll have depends entirely on the availability of year round forage available for the bees - and/or your willingness to feed. You've said your property is 15 acres. What surrounds it? The bees will cover way more than 15 acres in their search for pollen and nectar.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,584

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    The number of hives you'll have depends entirely on the availability of year round forage available for the bees - and/or your willingness to feed.
    Not disagreeing just to be disagreeable, but, in my opinion the number of hives one has in one spot has more to do w/ how many the beekeeper is comfortable w/ than it has to do w/ available forage. No one really has any idea what the available forage is in most places bees are commonly kept, barring a desert landscape. And bees don't forage all year round even in more temperate climates.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Larimer County, CO, USA
    Posts
    158

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    If your area is similar to mine I have mostly pine and juniper trees and wild flowers in the meadows. In good moisture years you have adequate forage but I provide pollen substitute that bees readily accept in the spring. In drought years you will likely have to feed a lot. I move most of my hives to the lower elevations in the spring where pollen and better forage is available 2-4 weeks earlier. I keep 10-20 hives in one bee yard at higher elevations. If the forage is not available I have out yards that have irrigated alfalfa available.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    SNOW SHOE PA USA
    Posts
    1,268

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    I have 2 yards on 12 acres 50 yards a part. and this one has 17 hives and is tight and small with bear fence .
    ANDREW is right if your hives are strong not many problems .
    I am feeding a few in the back row. No robbing just strong healthy hives.

    I have 32 hives right now and all are doing fine.
    Good luck
    Say hello to the bad guy!
    year five==== 31 hives==== T{OAV}

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    7,000 feet, Zuni Mountains, New Mexico
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    My question was more geared towards how many hives might be considered too many for one bee yard before diseases or hive robbing become an issue. But it sounds like proper hive management would allow for many hives to be placed in one area without too many ill effects. As for location, we are surrounded by a national forest and thousands of acres of undeveloped land. We have a short season, though.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    7,000 feet, Zuni Mountains, New Mexico
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    Quote Originally Posted by MTN-Bees View Post
    If your area is similar to mine I have mostly pine and juniper trees and wild flowers in the meadows. In good moisture years you have adequate forage but I provide pollen substitute that bees readily accept in the spring. In drought years you will likely have to feed a lot. I move most of my hives to the lower elevations in the spring where pollen and better forage is available 2-4 weeks earlier. I keep 10-20 hives in one bee yard at higher elevations. If the forage is not available I have out yards that have irrigated alfalfa available.
    Yes, we are located amongst the ponderosa pine, pinyon, and juniper with wildflowers. Even though we are dropping into the 40's at night, our daytime temps are in the upper 70's. We are now into the honey flow. The rabbitbrush (Chamisa) has now started to bloom. We recently drilled a well, so the plan is to plant some alfalfa and clover to supplement. We started with packaged bees this year. Two of the three hives have started building comb in the super within the last few days.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    Reasons to put hives together: winter warmth, convenience of setup (level one stand instead of several or fence one stand against bears instead of several etc.), convenience of the beekeeper (spare equipment can be right there in one spot next to the hives).

    Reasons to spread them out... maybe less robbing... maybe less drifting... but I think most people overthink drifting. If they all drift to one end and that hive makes a bumper crop how is that a bad thing?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Clifford Township, PA
    Posts
    2,059

    Default Re: Place hives at random or make a bee yard?

    For your half dozen hives, I'd go with a single yard for all the reasons mentioned already, mainly your convenience and bear protection. If the state has graciously given you a bear fence, that's great. Consolidate your hives and use it to protect them.

    The most hives I've ever kept in one location was about 15 or so but that was so I could try multiple yards around the area when I lived in Maine. I've got a dozen right now where I'm starting over in my new yard in PA. I plan to load the home yard with hives until the bees tell me that there are just too many hives for the available forage.

    I've never had a problem with diseases spreading so can't address that aspect. I had a drifting issues before. The beneficiaries of the drifting graciously donated frames of brood to some weaker hives.

    Wayne

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