How close is too close?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Troy, NC, USA
    Posts
    56

    Default How close is too close?

    I installed 3 packages in three hives on one stand that allows just enough room to clear the top covers. I'm finding that the center hive is doing really well, whilst the outer two are functioning, but not thriving. I suspect that the center hive is reaping the benefit of "drift".

    Should I move them farther apart? Move just the center hive? Leave it alone and let them figure it out?

    Please feel free to jump in with suggestions!

    Gary

    beehives.jpg

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Posts
    1,021

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    I've got some that close together. I'd like to have them farther apart, but I'm trying to keep my apiary limited to the area behind the garden. Like yours, my landing boards are different colors.

    Get rid of those entrance feeders, that could be part of a drift problem.
    Zone 5B

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Troy, NC, USA
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    The feeders have been removed now that we're in the honey flow here in NC. Thanks for the input. I've been thinking that moving the center hive to a different stand would give me more room to work and perhaps let the other two hives absorb any "stragglers".

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Pinellas, Florida, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    I had 7 set up the same way. Only problem I had was working the hives. Picking up the middle full deeps (double deeps + supers), not so bad, placing them back on the hive, backbreaking. But the bees didn't have a problem with it at all being so close.

    I would suggest for your own health and the health of the bees, give them more space. If you can't, then putting your feeders close together on hives (right and center) and left side of opening on the right hive would give you better separation of entrances. As you have them now, your center and right hives are almost using the same landing board.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    9,995

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    some folks have reported that hives on the end of a row benefit from drift more so than hives in the middle of a row.

    i've kind of noticed that to some degree here but it's not consistent enough to draw a conclusion.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Laurel Hill, Fl
    Posts
    1,120

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    I would like to make a suggestion. In an attempt to keep my virgins from returning to the wrong hive, I alternated the hives direction. starting on one end I turned every other hive 180 degrees so the bees landing boards are facing in different directions. Didn't help my percentage of virgins successfully returning, but you can watch the bees and tell it cuts down on drifting. I think my miserable success rate of returning from mating flights is directly related to predators and the most obvious one is dragon flies. I've got clouds of them.
    Robbin NW Florida(8A) / 14 hives / 5 Nucs / 6th Year / T {OAV & MMK}

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,514

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    My bees winter with the telecovers touching (and 2" of foam in between them, so they are essentially touching, top to bottom. But by now I've got them spread apart a bit, but still close enough to smush 'em back together and re-install the shared insulation panels, if needed. This summer I'm going to separate them on to individual pallets spread over a larger area to see how I like that. Last summer when I had EFB in some of the colonies I spread some of them farther apart to reduce cross-contamination. It certainly made a difference in the colonies' relationships to each other, though because of the EFB emergency I wasn't able to risk doing any experiments that might promote drifting from sick to healthy hives.

    My bees have always (until last summer) summered close together on a long stand and I make room between them for inspections by shifting them apart enough to work them from one side. The hives all sit on short lengths of Metro-style shelving so I can shift them easily, even when they weight close to 200 lbs at the end of the summer.

    Early in the spring when the insulation is still in place the first inspections and work like reversing boxes is extremely heavy work because they are as close together as yours are now. You just can't work them easily or safely.

    Easy fix, though: cement blocks a pallet and some plywood for a platform and move some of 'em over.

    Nancy

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Lumpkin County, GA
    Posts
    783

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    You could flip the center hive so hive's entrance is facing the other direction. IMHO, the hives are too close to each other which will make it hard to work. I use a frame rest and with the hives that close, the frame rest won't fit.
    FWIW.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    3,284

    Default

    Here's a couple pics. I have hives in several locations with just enough room to remove outer covers. They've all done great and produced losts of honey.

    An issue you may experience is when initially hiving your packages that bees will drift. That may be why 1 hive is stronger than others. Once established drift is not significant in my experience.

    Package quality can vary. Some packages may have a disportional amount of older bees that won't contribute as much to the hive as younger bees will.

    I've not experienced end hives receiving more bees due to drift. Bees pretty much know which hive is theirs. It could be possible that during cleansing/orientation flights bees orient to a different hive, but again did not notice a significant change if that was occurring. The weaker hives that were smaller splits or swarms continued to be the weakest and the hives that started stronger continued to be the strongest.

    I wouldn't recommend doing front access only with hives this close together, it will work but makes inspections more challenging. Rear access is fine for me.



    Last edited by burns375; 05-21-2018 at 10:01 PM.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Troy, NC, USA
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    Thanks for all of your help, guys & gals! Those hives in the pictures sure look good! I may move the center hive, more for my convenience than anything else.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,550

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    6,063

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    Side by each works pretty well. They'll drift close together or far apart. Mine are frequently right up against each other.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Syracuse, UT
    Posts
    197

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    I have two hives touching each other in the corner of the yard. they both forage going away from the corner of the yard. The hive farthest from the corner has a lot more bees in it. I've looked in the corner hive a couple of times and there is a ton of capped brood in it and a lot of bees also. I think I've had a lot of drifting due to this arrangement since they all pass by the hive furthers from the corner. The hive furthest from the corner has a couple of supers full of honey and the one in the corner only has only a couple of frames with honey in it. Can the busy hive with honey slow-steal from the other hive? Found 4 queen cups in the least populated corner hive a couple of days ago so they have enough bees in it to cause them to want to swarm (they were on the bottom of a frame) but they are not storing honey. These were both packages installed this spring.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Houston, TX, USA
    Posts
    628

    Default Re: How close is too close?

    Quote Originally Posted by blamb61 View Post
    I have two hives touching each other in the corner of the yard. they both forage going away from the corner of the yard. The hive farthest from the corner has a lot more bees in it. I've looked in the corner hive a couple of times and there is a ton of capped brood in it and a lot of bees also. I think I've had a lot of drifting due to this arrangement since they all pass by the hive furthers from the corner. The hive furthest from the corner has a couple of supers full of honey and the one in the corner only has only a couple of frames with honey in it. Can the busy hive with honey slow-steal from the other hive? Found 4 queen cups in the least populated corner hive a couple of days ago so they have enough bees in it to cause them to want to swarm (they were on the bottom of a frame) but they are not storing honey. These were both packages installed this spring.
    Cups could mean nothing. I have read that foraging bees stop at the nearest hive. Try trading box locations. This will help equalize them and show you the drift. After equal, maybe rotate 45 for a better flight path. Hard to guess without seeing the specific location.

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