Perfect timing Barry!! As I am looking around my backyard I found the perfect spot for my girls, side of the house where the house, shed, tree, and 6' fence will cause them to have to fly up 20' or so to take off. One glaring problem....the spot is 10 to 12 feet away from my A/C condenser....I would like some opinions as to whether you feel this is too close and the noise could cause mood issues with the ladies?
"Where should I put my hive?" The problem is there isn't a simple answer. But in a list of decreasing importance I would pick these criteria with a willingness to sacrifice the less important ones altogether if they don't work out.
Safety. It's essential to have the hive where they are not a threat to animals who are chained or penned up and can't flee if they are attacked, or where they are likely to be a threat to passerbys who don't know there are hives there. If the hive is going to be close to a path that people walk you need to have a fence or something to get the bees up over the people's heads. For the safety of the bees they should be where cattle won't rub on them and knock them over, horses won't knock them over and bears can't get to them.
Convenient access. It's essential to have the hive where the beekeeper can drive right up to it. Carrying full supers that could weigh from 90 pounds (deep) down to 48 pounds (eight frame medium) any distance is too much work. The same for bringing beekeeping equipment and feed to the hives. You may have to feed as much as 50 pounds or more of syrup to each hive and carrying it any distance is not practical. Also you will learn a lot more about bees with a hive in your backyard than a hive 20 miles away at a friend's house. Also a yard a mile or two from home will get much better care than one 60 miles from home.
Good forage. If you have a lot of options, then go for a place with lots of forage. Sweet clover, alfalfa being grown for seed, tulip poplars etc. can make the difference between bumper crops of 200 pounds or more of honey per hive and barely scraping a living. But keep in mind the bees will not only be foraging the space you own, they will be foraging the 8,000 acres around the hives.
Not in your way. I think it's important the hive does not interfere with anyone's life much. In other words, don't put it right next to a well used path where, in a dearth and in a bad mood, the bees may harass or sting someone or anywhere else where you are likely to wish they weren't there.
Full sun. I find hives in full sun have fewer problems with diseases and pests and make more honey. All things being equal, I'd go for full sun. The only advantage to putting them in the shade is that you get to work them in the shade.
Out of the wind. It's nice to have them where the cold winter wind doesn't blow on them so hard and the wind is less likely to blow them over or blow off the lids. This isn't my number one requirement, but if a place is available that has a windbreak it's nice. This usually precludes putting them at the very top of a hill.
Not in a low-lying area. I don't care if they are somewhere in the middle, but I'd rather not have them where the dew and the fog and the cold settle and I really don't want them where I have to move them if there's a threat of a flood.
If you live in a very hot climate, mid afternoon shade might be a nice to have, but I wouldn't lose sleep over it.
In the end, bees are very adaptable. They really don't care, so make sure it's convenient for you, and if it's not too hard to provide, try to meet some of the other criteria. It's doubtful you'll have a place that meets all of the criteria listed above.
For those aspiring beekeepers that do not have a backyard, 'NO BEES' laws, or land to put hives on, you will have to think of some 'creative ways' to find/locate,.land/ someone within reasonable driving distance that would,...appreciate or allow/'love' some hives of honey bees to be placed on their land. My first opportunity was from a co-worker; so friends, relatives, co-workers may be a source of 'information'. I ended up putting an 'ad' in the weekly newspapers of the nearby small towns where I live and the major daily of course. I don't think this is the best method but I was lucky that way. If you have a 'farmers market' nearby, that may be a source; Craigs List has been mentioned on Beesource. Google Maps or something similar will show areas near you that may provide great foraging for the bees. It is GOOD to have as many options as possible when locating your hives because you should have acquired information from your reading as far as,.. accessibility, compass direction, foraging area, high land/low land, protection from winter winds,..etc.
In this regard: An agreement,...a handshake [friends,relatives, co-workers], a formal, perhaps written document/legal needs to be considered.
MB’s web page says it all. I have a few hives that are in a windy area, in summer it’s not a problem but in winter it would be very tough for the bees. So I place a few bails of straw on the windward side which acts as a wind break. So far they have always come threw the winter in good shape. Without the wind break I think I would just be picking up dead outs in spring.
I have been told that black locust nectar washes out easily and since here it is a very early bloomer (during the most rainy part of our season) it is hard to get any of the water white honey the nectar produces. Due to a fluke dry spring the first year I pulled honey I had one shallow super that was completely full of locust honey...got one gallon out of the super....you could read a newspaper thru the gallon jar. Very beautiful with an extremely delicate flavor. We however prefer darker more flavorful honeys like alfalfa. (And no I have never fed with a super on.) While looking for city code/laws concerning beekeeping (there are none!! leave that all up to the state) I discovered it is illegal to plant a black locust tree in the city limits
You may bee able to slide a small smooth board under the drip drain, remember an air conditioner is also a de-humidifier. That way you don't run up your water bill. However you may live in an arid part of Oklahoma and you will need to supliment this free water during cool periods.
What about placing hives under an elevated roof? Shelter house idea. Have even seen some videos where the hive is inside but the front porch is outside. Winter protection I suppose, and possibly a way to increase the life of the wooden hive body? Just guessing. Would definately keep the snow and wind out.
If you are in a city/town, first check the ordinances to determine if beekeeping is allowed at all and whether there are specific requirements. For example, where I live you can have 4 hives per 1/4 acre of lot, they must be 20 feet from the property line and there must be a 6 foot barrier between the hive and the direction of the hive opening. Some people ignore ordinances, thinking that they don't matter unless somebody complains. I am not your boss, and I can't tell you what to do, but that approach could lead to problems.
Assuming there are no regulations, then, in town, I would try to put them out of sight and away from the property line.
Only after you worry about the neighbors should you start thinking about considerations like shade, etc.
New beekeepers should rember that there are very few "perfect" locations, so just make the best of what you have to work with. What I value in a site is full sun, the ability to drive within carrying distance and a level work area.
Stands should be used to raise the colony above ground. The distance varies with the height of the person that will be doing inspections but I think 6 inches would be the minimum distance. My preference is one colony per stand and stands at least 6 feet apart, but that is a personal preference. I like to make stands out of treated wood, 2 x 4 legs with 1 x 4 frame work.
The direction a colony faces is not critical so face it in the direction that is best for you and your neighbors. Plan for increase, plan to reduce drift by facing enterances in different directions and give yourself enough room to work and mow the grass.
>New beekeepers should rember that there are very few "perfect" locations, so just make the best of what you have to work with. What I value in a site is full sun, the ability to drive within carrying distance and a level work area.
Exactly. There are very few "perfect' locations, so it's a matter of a "best compromise".
For those folks up north (I'm in Maine) you might want to consider more sun then shade. I started out with my first Colony in a shady spot and it sputtered all spring. Then after a friend suggested I move it into full sun things started to kick into gear. Now a flow might have picked up at that time too but the difference was quite dramatic.
Since then I've run screened bottom boards, and I prop up the top in the summer. Heat never seems to be an issue, even on those handful of 90+ days.
That and in the winter they get more sun which help keep the colony warm.
In Ed Weiss' book "The Queen and I" he mentions it's best to face the entrance south to southeast. The early morning sun coming in the entrance gets them out to work just a little sooner. Anybody else notice any difference with this?
I'm also in Maine and have limited "ideal" space for the few hives I'm getting this spring.
No front or back yard to speak of with the road close in front on the south and steep, wooded hillside to swamp right in back on the north side. East side (morning sun) is a narrow strip between my attached barn and the neighbors' and bees there would be inconsiderate.
Leaves the long, narrow open side yard which holds my 50' x 90' garden. Full sun would place the hives smack in the middle of a working garden. I have a narrow strip between the garden fence on the north side and the steep hillside. This would place the hives just outside the garden but under the drip line of the trees. Hives would be in almost full sun all winter but shaded during the mid-summer days when the sun is at full height.
This is my likely location for the hives and I've thought that I'd build a 6' high fence made of screening along the fence to get the bees up and overhead while working the beds in the garden just a few feet away from the hive entrance.
The only alternatives are the corner of the garden near the house which would receive only afternoon sun or in the center of the garden behind the huge lilac where it would receive morning and afternoon sun, shaded only at midday and have a gardener (me) working with hoes and garden trowels right next to the hives.
I've never had to work before in such close proxiomity to hives before except many years ago when we mowed hay once or twice a year right in front of 6 or 7 hives.
i am looking to place my hives about 20 ft from a semi traveled road in the summer, we get alot of busses traveling down it and once in a while delivery trucks. monster sanders and plows in the winter. this road is not a highway is a local through way. we have 15ft abrovites blocking our yard from the street. will this traffic be a problem. and if so is there any kind of shock absorbers it could rest on? i have no other option of placement.
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