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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

So, I'm starting out in keeping honey bees this year, and due to space/lighting concerns, the hives will go on my back deck. It's roughly rectangular, about 700 sq. ft., and is adjoined to the dining area via a sliding glass door. In fair weather, we sometimes eat outside. How close can I locate a picnic table to a hive? How far should a hive be from a door that we use frequently?

Thanks for the insights!
 

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For the most part, you should be fine. Unlike yellow jackets, bees aren't terribly interested in your meal. Flight paths are probably more of an issue so you'll probably want to face the hives away from your table. Also, in my experience, bees tend to be more territorially aggressive later in the year so their tolerance of your presence may be unpredictable. I would go for it...just at a reasonable distance. Try ten feet anyway...more if you can.
 

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As Ravenseye notes, aiming the entrance away from traffic areas (point them off the deck) will help a great deal. It kind of depends on how the deck is used. Be aware that during the early afternoons, there'll be a lot of bees in the air around the entrance (foragers and orientation-flight trainees). I'd also be very sure that it's not an area where kids are playing.... a couple whacks with a baseball, jumprope, plastic hammer etc. and the bees could rouse a defensive sortie with exciting results. I'd REALLY try to not have the colony where you might bump/bang it accidentally. Don't get me wrong; I spend time each day during the summer with feet propped on the landing board watching the bee channel, but then I'm into bees. Not all of our dinner guests share my enthusiasm :). Other considerations are space to work the bees: don't put it in a corner. You need space to set down supers etc.

Does it really have to be ON your deck? What are the "lighting" concerns? The bees are pretty flexible and will adapt to most any location... a slightly sub-optimal colony location might be a good tradeoff to prevent the spouse from banishing the girls after the 30th one is discovered buzzing in the kitchen window :).
 

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As long as you are not eating honey and peanut butter sandwiches you should be ok. ;) We eat lunch in the bee yards using hives as a backrest with no problem...
 

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Well, you won't be eating honey and pancakes on the back deck without inviting a few visitors for breakfast. Myself, I'd move them on top of the house before I put them on the deck. I do love watching the hives though.
 

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Remember this - The smell of banana's is the same smell that bee's use for an alarm smell. Don't eat any banana's or banana dishes out there.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the comments (BTW, XC, I like your blog!).

I'm just very limited in hive placement options. I have space on the west and east of my home. On the west is the sidewalk, street, etc. It's very open to the neighbors, and doesn't get sun till noon. On the east is the deck, and a small yard. The yard may work, but it's VERY damp there. We have clay heavy soil, and the yard turns into a pond every time it rains. My hives have to be elevated because I have had back surgery twice and need to minimize bending over. So they would at least be elevated above the pond.

If I put hives in the yard, then I would lay down landscape fabric and about 6 inches of bark. Do you think that plus raising the hive up to 3 feet would be alright? The hive there would get sun from 8:30 am - 5 pm in the summer, and 8:30-11 am/2-4 pm in the winter. Would this work alright?

My deck gets more constant sunlight year round, but shade in the late afternoon and evening, and is futher elevated. Also, the ground under my deck is much drier, and any hives places there could be watched from windows inside the house (we couldn't really watch a yard hive from the house). There is also a patch of garlic growing right next to the yard where a hive would be there, and I know bees don't care for garlic much, so I'm a little concerned about that.

Sigh. Choices, choices. Since we're just starting out, I'm uncertain how much inviolate space the bees will need around their hives.
 

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I like the hive stands (elevation) idea and the amount of sun. Hey...why not try the deck and use the yard as your backup? Or vice versa?
 

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You might find someone on Craigslist in the farm and garden section that will allow you to keep them close to your home without fears. I know it worked for me a couple of years back. But, I do keep one "pet hive" at home just to sit out on the deck and watch then come and go..

Many gardeners and farmers would love having bees onsite...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think we will go with the deck at first - mainly because it's a drier micro-climate and gets better sun - if the bees end up being a problem so close, the yard it is!

And thank you for the suggestion to find a neighbor to house the bees - but a big reason for us in getting bees is to learn more about them, which would be harder to do with a remote location.

My bees arrive in 3 weeks!
 
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