IMO it is the morning sun hitting the hive that is more important that direction of the entrance.
The morning sun warms the hive so they start flying earlier.
I have my hives set so that they get shade in the late afternoons as a way to assist in cooling in hot part of summer. But I also have so many trees that it was a matter of when (not if) to put them in shade.
I was instructed it is recommended that you face your hives south east in dappled shade if possible. You take advantage of the morning sun and it protects the mouth of the hive from harsh northernly winds, especially in the cold winter months.
>Ive heard hives must face east to ensure the best honey production. ( bees get out with the first light and thus have a longer day) Does this really matter that much?
>I was instructed it is recommended that you face your hives south east in dappled shade if possible. You take advantage of the morning sun and it protects the mouth of the hive from harsh northernly winds, especially in the cold winter months.
It's a wonderful idea.
Here's my advice. Bees live in hollow trees in the middle of the woods. So obvioulsy they CAN live in the shade. My most productive, healthy hives seem to be in full sun. All day.
In the end, I'd put the hives where they are most convenient for you. If you can do that in full sun. Good. If not. Don't worry about it. Make SURE you can drive to the hives. You don't want to be lugging 60 pound supers back 1/2 mile to the truck. Make sure they are above the flood plain so they don't wash away. Face them whatever direction is convenient for you. If there's no other compelling reason to face them some direction, THEN face them East. It's a good direction.
I put mine facing East on the East side of a tree row because *I* want protection from the red hot Kansas sun in the summertime. I had heatstroke once so I like shade. Only drawback is trying to see eggs, sometimes I will have to walk into the sun for that.
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