POSITIONING YOUR HIVES

Surprisingly, a lot of beekeepers don't have their apiary at their home address.  Perhaps because of space availablity; perhaps because of children or perhaps because the hives would be too near to a public footpath.  There are many reasons and you need to consider your home location carefully.  Flat roofs are good and keeps the bees out of the way where they could become a nuisance.  If you choose this option, just make sure you have safe access to the roof as you may be needing to get additional equipment onto the roof for your beekeeping duties.  A super full of honey is not something I would attempt to carry down ladders so think about this very carefully.  Friends with large gardens and/or paddocks are a good bet as are farmers.  Farmers will usually welcome beekeepers as they are well aware of the financial benefits of pollination of their crops.  If you are able to go the paddock/farmer route, then you need to make sure that you can protect your hives from animals.  Horses, sheep and cattle can soon knock your hives over if they can get near enough to them.  If away from home, whichever site you may eventually decide on, it's important to remember that you will need access to the site with your vehicle from time to time in order to take or retrieve your equipment.  The nearer you can get to your hives with your vehicle, the better.  Also if away from home, you will need to consider the security of your hives.  Don't site them in plain view or they may not be there when you return.  Sadly, beekeeping thefts are a fact we beekeepers have to live with.  So try and get them behind some sort of screen if possible or ask if you can plant a small conifer hedge to hide them.

Ok ... if you're having lessons with an association at their apiary, then you will have noticed the way the hives have been layed out in the apiary.  It might look hap hazard and random but there is method in the madness.  As a beginner, you will be starting with just one hive.  Try and position the hive south facing and away from trees (water dripping onto the hive roof will disturb the bees) but with some shelter if possible.

The hives in this image are painted in many colours to help the bees distinquish their correct home when returning to the hive.

That's the easy part.  As a beekeeper, you'll soon find out that bees have a habit of multiplying and your one hive may very soon become two hives.  So where to put your next hive?  If you locate it close to your first hive, then you should really have the entrance facing in a different direction.  If the entrance is facing in the same direction, some bees may get confused and return to the wrong hive.  We call this "drifting".  So you can imagine that a lot of hives in a straight line all next to each other with entrances all facing the same direction could well be disastrous!  Maybe the hap hazard manner the hives are layed out at your association apiary is not so daft after all.  The bees know exactly where they are going!

© 2017 by Barkston Ash Beekeepers (BABKA)

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William Gray

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