Beginner here. Getting ready to set up two hives in a month or so. We have a small yard in a wooded town (Pennsylvania). I picked a spot on our back lawn that gets good sun- otherwise they'd be back a bit but good amount of heavy tree cover. My question: is it bad if they're 15 feet or so from a firepit? We use it a fair amount in the spring/fall. And, with the right wind I could see the hives being 'smoked' for a few hours. They were certainly be less conspicuous further back, but again I'd worry about the shade/moisture etc.
Can you face the entrances away, even 90 degrees, from the fire pit and still have the entrances face south?
When my beginning students are contemplating a site for their bees, fire pits are often big, difficult-to-work-around factors. Fifteen feet from your pit will severely limit your use of the pit because people (civilian, non-beekeeper guests) and flying bees are not a happy combination. On warm summer evenings bees will fly right up to dark, if there is a nectar flow on. Fifty- feet might be a safe distance, or around the corner, or on the other side of an eight foot tall section of fence. Or get rid of, or move, the pit. Or don't get bees.
Don't get me wrong, I am not being needlessly alarmist. I often take naps in front of my hives with my feet propped up on their stand. But I do so with a veil on to keep the bees out of my long hair. Even if I sit about 20 feet away on a bench, curious bees -not aggressive or defensive - just simply bees checking out a new thing in their world will fly over to see what's what. And without a hat or veil they will likely get entangled in my hair, to everyone's dismay. And it is usually fatal to the bee. I regularly work my bees bare-handed, they don't freak me out in any way, I love playing with them and enjoy having them walk on my hand while I look at them very closely. I am a beekeeper and I can tell just by the sound of their flight if they are having a problem with me, or not. So I'd be happy at your fire pit 15 feet from your hives (with a hat or veil on), but 99.99% of your guests (and even you, at first) will go nuts and panic.
But don't move your bees into the shade because that is not good for them - move the fire pit.
Thanks Nancy. Yep if the pit is 8 o’clock and hives are at the center of clockface the hives entrances face 6 o’clock to face SE, if that makes any sense. One thing I’d consider would be to get rid of fire pit and replace w pond- and then also have watersource for the bees. Trying not to push my luck w the family though- letting me get the bees was a big step! I grew up with bees and I know my kids will love it but definitely need to balance it.
I'm unsure of your current situation but I have a huge fire pit that's roughly 10' in diameter where we have our summer evening bon fires that get pretty big. It's located roughly 75' from our 12 hives. No issues at all, granted the distance is greater but so are our fires. I have noticed alot of bees days after in our fire pit, not quite sure what they would be interested in.
In my limited experiences with it, I find that bees don't like fires close by.
The times I've had experience is when I've burned off brush piles in the pasture, about 50+ feet away from the hives, maybe up to 75 feet away in some years. On the days I burn the piles, the bees are flying around more and a little more mean. They are more likely to sting, when not being worked, than other days when there is no fire burning going on. Keep in mind, my burn piles are large enough so that it gets too hot to stand 15-20 feet away.