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I am fencing in my 6 hives that I will be getting this month. I am planning on putting up a 16 foot long and 8 feet wide fenced in enclosure. I am fencing in for two reasons the main one is to get them out of the wind. My second reason is I would like to get them up and flying rather than zooming out across the lawn head height. My main concern is the bees will have about five feet to get up and out of the fence is that enough space for them to get up and over. My hives sit on a raised stand that is 30 inches from the ground. in the 16 x 8 configuration with the hives on the 16 ft side they would be facing due south at the entrance. Any input would be appreciated.
 

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I feel that will be more than enough room. I have a hive about 18" from a thick hedge. The bees have to fly almost straight up from the hive opening, or straight down to it when returning. It's not the easiest or most efficient for them, but they don't seem to mind going into the third year in that spot.
 

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Unfortunately, during the winter (and also to some extent in spring and fall) the hives will be shaded on their fronts and sides, so the hives will be colder. A solid enclosure of that size, on all four sides will also make the interior area cool and damp, with poor air drainage year-round. Plus too hot to work in during the summer for you, when a breeze is what makes it bearable, even up here in NY.

I would rethink the plan. Having bees fly over your lawn is not a bad thing. (And you will adjust to their presence, as you get more experience dealing with them.) A single-sided barrier may be all you need to "lift" them up and away from a critical area, but preferably not on the south elevation where the entrance is facing. I would face them east, and put the barrier on the south, if that was the only solution. A wind barrier on the windward side does protect the bees during the winter.

But if you go ahead with it, you would need at least 5 feet, (preferably more) between hive surface (on all four sides) and the fence, for butt and working room. My own hives are about four feet from a row of 30-feet tall evergreens (on the north only). And I am always feeling crowded by that. I plan to move them out a couple of feet this year. I use all of that four feet and am always slapping the branches away from me.

Also a stand 30" tall will be very difficult to work. My own stands are about 12-15" off the ground (I am on a slope), and while this is far preferable than hives on (or near) the ground, it costs me extra effort in lifting boxes. And I usually stand on my solid-surface stand to work my hives. I can easily hoist heavy boxes up to about thigh-height, but from there to should height, any box weighing more than about 30 lbs is harder to control. Not to lift, but to move with delicate control needed to set boxes of live bees down carefully. I use a step ladder, and finally, late in the season a scaffold platform to work them. Bee boxes are heavy, my 10-frame deep supers can weigh upwards of 40-50 lbs, even after I have removed some frames.

Six hives in an enclosure of that size would not be pleasant to work, IMO. Six hives in a line would occupy at least 5' (end room on the line) + 1.5' (Hive #1) + 2.5' (minimum moving around space between each hive if you are agile and skinny), etc., + 5' on the other end. That comes out about to at least 30 row feet. I keep my hives just a bit less spaced apart (a bit less than 2') and I spend a lot of time walking around the line. Or temporarily heavy shifting hives to "collect" two intervals between three hives into one working space. It is not ideal. And then there's drifting...... Having the hives against the back wall of the enclosure (which is what it sounds like you're planning) and little space between them will make beekeeping a PITA. I would suggest having fewer, or finding another solution.

In the winter, I shove mine all together (with two, 1" pieces of foam between each stack to accommodate the the telecover overhang) and insulate around them in a block with 8' panels. (Eight feet being the standard size of a foam panel, and a group of five, 10-frame hives nicely matches that length.) This works well because I install the insulation very late, last thing before winter, usually in Dec., after my last OAV treatment of the year. However, in the spring it limits the ease of the early work because they are so snugly packed up. I keep the insulation on as long as I can stand it, just removing pieces so i can do the earliest inspections, and then putting it back on. And I keep it hand on the ground, ready for those frequent below freezing nights up here in May. I have spent more than a few nights re-installing it in the dark when a late weather report changes to an unexpectedly freezing forecast. Every year I plan to make individual insulation jackets for each hive so I can spread them out earlier in the spring. So far, I haven't got around to it. (And in the spring, I have no time for doing it, even though my motivation is high.)

I am curious about one thing, though. Is this your first year - six hives are a lot to start off with!


Nancy
 

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>My main concern is the bees will have about five feet to get up and out of the fence is that enough space for them to get up and over.

Five inches is enough. Of course that's not enough room for you to work the hives, so several feet is perfect.
 

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This is my second year beekeeping last year I had 3 Hives one absconded in august. My second hive died out in the end of January most likely because I did my Apivar treatment too late in the fall. MY 3rd hive I am getting ready to do a walk away split with it almost busting at the seems and as of today I had some drones and quite a few drone frames not hatched yet. I am getting to 3 lb packages this Saturday and 2 nuts the end of April. the hive stand I built has a step on the back that I can fold down as needed and currently my hives are spaced 8 inches apart where I have installed Eye screws to patched down hives for storms and for the winter. I also use 1 inch Styrofoam around all hive sides and insulate the top with a medium super filled with 4 inches of Styrofoam with a 3 inch hole in the center that lines up with my inner cover for ventilation. the medium sits on top of a 20 lb sugar block that I made to get them though the winter. I am thinking of leaving south side open as long as I don't have a problem with the flying height along the lawn. I am surrounded on two sides by farm land which north and east and I am on the higher part of the landscape so the wind cane brutal at time I was going to leave 2 feet on the back of the hives at least that's the plan so far. And thank you all for your input
 

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The bees can work in a smaller space than you can. Note the fence does not need to be solid to redirect the bees, slats, mesh, lattice also works.
 

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I have put bees in backyards many times. Usually I face the hive to a wall (garage, house etc.) so the guard bees don't see people walking around and things work just fine. If they get defensive you will likely need to move them until you resolve the problem, so I would have a plan for where to take them if that happens. Meanwhile as long as they remain nice the fence isn't so important as people not being in view of the entrance. When faced with a wall, they always seem to go up rather than around, so usually the flight path isn't much of an issue.
 

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They'll be fine. My backyard apiary is 8 wide east to west x 25 feet long north to south, and is in the south west corner of my yard. The hives are placed in an L shape, facing into the corner of the vinyl fence to the south and to the west. The L is about 5' long on the short side and about 20' on the long side, leaving me with about 3' of working space behind all of them. Just over the fence to the south is a cherry tree, and just to the west is a willow tree. The girls haven't come to me with any complaints yet. I think as long as the prevailing wind is not blowing right into the hive entrance then hive placement is the concern of the beekeeper far more than it is the concern of the bees.
 
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