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Hey everyone,

So I'm relatively new to this field and I've just been researching beekeeping for now. I've noticed on several threads that there's a lot of discretion advised when placing beehives (such as 4 hives to a pallet or separating them by a couple feet). If I were just keeping a few hives recreationally (not commercially), what would you recommend? I'm confused on the varied answers. Thanks.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Ideally, hives are spaced at fairly wide intervals to help avoid drifting and disease transmission. Unfortunantly, for the vast majority of us, that is simply not practical. Space your hives as you see fit to work into your landscape. One thing most of us do is leave enough room behind the hive to work it from the rear. I place my hives on a stand made of 4x4x8's and get 5 10-frame hives per stand. They are almost touching each other. The stands are about 5 feet apart so I can get the mower through and are arranged in a square with the entrances facing inwards. Everyone has their own way and they all seem to work.
 

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I have no scientific evidence to support my thoughts but this is what I have experienced over the past 10 years. I keep about 15 hives on my back property in an oak type forested area that is cleared. They are spaced about 10 feet apart in rows of 3-4. I also as an experiment keep about 3 hives near the back of my home in a an oak type Forest in a cleared area. I place them about 5 feet apart in a linear pattern from north to south. These 3 hives that are less congested do much better. Most significantly the hive located to the furthest south does better than any of the hives regardless of location. For example I often have 3-6 supers on that hive whereas in terms of the others I only have 1-2 supers. Also the hive located to the furthest north does almost as well, and the middle hive does the worst. This has been a horrible year for me here in Illinois, but I believe the same scenario will hold true. The north to south process makes no difference in the other more dense yard. I believe there may be some significance to the to less density at least in my instance.
 

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Put them where you want. An established colony really doesn't care much if they fly onto a hive a foot away or a mile away. Like us, they know where they live.
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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I have no scientific evidence to support my thoughts but this is what I have experienced over the past 10 years. I keep about 15 hives on my back property in an oak type forested area that is cleared. They are spaced about 10 feet apart in rows of 3-4. I also as an experiment keep about 3 hives near the back of my home in a an oak type Forest in a cleared area. I place them about 5 feet apart in a linear pattern from north to south. These 3 hives that are less congested do much better. Most significantly the hive located to the furthest south does better than any of the hives regardless of location. For example I often have 3-6 supers on that hive whereas in terms of the others I only have 1-2 supers. Also the hive located to the furthest north does almost as well, and the middle hive does the worst. This has been a horrible year for me here in Illinois, but I believe the same scenario will hold true. The north to south process makes no difference in the other more dense yard. I believe there may be some significance to the to less density at least in my instance.
Keep in mind hives in a row often have drift to the end hive. the center ones are likely to loose the most bees. some deviation of entrance angle and Hive color can help.
 

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I'm working on 100 yards apart per hive: I've made great progress this year but with 45 hives it'll take a couple of seasons. I received permission from all the local farmers in the area to go ahead and place them wherever I want so today I placed two against wetlands with a huge swamp mallow blossom going on.

I have 14 left at my home yard and can probably support 6 to 8 of them with the spacing I desire.

I still have a lot of work to do as most yards still have 2 to 5 hives next to each other.
 

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I'm working on 100 yards apart per hive:

Yikes Eddie! You're more of a man than me! I suddenly feel like a slacker...


EDIT: to answer the OP's question, I am a firm believer in eyeballing it and going with it. I've thought about going to a small circular configuration, with all the entrances facing out. That should help equalize the drifting, but I have yet to do it.

Ryan
 
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