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I am a new beekeeper, planning on having only a few hives. I have an opportunity to build a small beeyard (15x20) and am interested in what features I should include or avoid. My thought is to make it generally level, exposed to full sun with a southern exposure. I am thinking about placing a sheet of 6mil plastic on bare ground, held down by turf staples, in the hope that denying small hive beetles an easy way to get to the dirt will reduce their population. I will probably cover the plastic with crushed rock.

Do you think any of this will make a difference? In my ignorance what am I missing? In central Texas will it be too hot in the summer (a year or so ago we had 60+ consecutive days over 100)?
 

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I would also consider putting it somewhere with a natural windbreak if available . Cold winter winds can hurt the hives .
 

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Guru beek I am not. But as a horticulturist I think I would put down a layer of permeable landscape fabric (either needle punch or woven polypropylene) instead of plastic below the crushed rock. This will allow both air and water to flow through the material and reach the soil. This will help avoid both excess run-off and ponding in depressions, while protecting the viability of soil microbiota below the fabric.

I should think that light colorerd stone would be better than dark stone in managing heat in TX. (But it all seems extremely hot to me - not sure about the bees, but won't you need asbestos shoes in such a set-up?)

Enjambres
 

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Get your bees up off the ground if you have fireants. Provide western shade if possible.....it's hot in Texas! I place linoleum underneath my hives. It blocks grass so I don't have to mow close to my hives. Also, I put a ring of tractor grease around the legs of my hive stands to foil the fireants and the linoleum makes sure that grass doesn't grow up and touch the hives to provide a bridge for ants.

Keep your hives strong to combat the beetles. There is a fine balancing act between a crowded hive(that will think about swarming) and a good strong hive that will effectively deal with beetles.
 
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