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LESSON 8: Selecting the Apiary Site

There are several factors you should consider when selecting a site to place your hives. One of the most important factors is: will there be a sufficient food source near the bees? Bees can forage usually 1-1.5 miles away from the hive fairly easily, so make sure there are food sources within that radius. Open fields with clover are excellent sources as well as near fruit trees and blackberry bushes. Take the time to examine your area to see what kinds of plants are available. Spring sources of nectar and pollen from willow, fruit trees & dandelions are very helpful for colony build-up during the spring.

Next, you want to inspect the actual land where the hives will be placed. First, make sure there is adequate wind protection for the hives. Trees or hedges at Pic_HivesInGardenground level in the direction of the prevailing winds are a must. Second, don't select an area that is in the shade too much. Long dead grass around the hives can add warmth to a hive and allows for faster colony development. When the weather gets really hot later in the summer it can be necessary to move the hive into a partially shaded area so the bees don't overheat.

When actually placing your hive on the site you have chosen there are a couple of things you should do. First, the entrance should be facing the morning sun. Second, the hive entrance should be leaning forward just a bit like in the picture.

Other factors to consider when selecting a site are:

  • Avoid Flood areas
  • Can animals get to the hives (ie bears or cattle)

8 thoughts on “LESSON 8: Selecting the Apiary Site”

  • Dennis Smith

    What options are available to protect the hives against sunks and raccoons?

    Reply
    • GloryBee

      Most beekeepers put their hives on a hive stand or cinder blocks to lift them off the ground. If the beehive is off the ground about 18 inches the curious critters will have to stand on their back legs to get to the bees. This exposes their front/underbelly to the bees and the bees will convince them it’s not worth the hassle and pain.

      Reply
  • Azure Nightfalle
    Azure Nightfalle April 23, 2017 at 1:27 am

    What are the ideal average winter and summer temperatures for beekeeping? Also, what would the lowest temperature that would still avoid damage to the hive be?

    Reply
    • GloryBee

      Thanks for reaching out. When temps are below 50 degrees you don't want to open the hive. For a quick inspection we would recommend at least 55 degrees, 60 would be preferable. For a full hive inspection lasting more than 10 minutes I would recommend 70 degrees or above. There is no ideal temp but when it's over 95 degrees they can get a little annoyed when you are opening up the hive.

      Reply
  • Caitlin

    How can I protect them from bears? I live near Mt. Shasta CA and we have Lots of bears.

    Reply
    • GloryBee

      Caitlin, Thanks for reaching out. Mt Shasta is a beautiful area!

      We've spoken to beekeepers in Alaska and they've told us that the best way to keep hives safe is with electric fencing around the hives or electric netting draped over the hive. We've also heard that having a barking dog helps keep bears away but that's more anecdotal.

      Even with fencing, we've had reports of hives being pillaged by a very determined bear.

      Reply
  • kevin

    I have 6 acres of pasture surrounded by miles and miles of paper company owned, row crop style grown pine trees.

    The "clear cuts" and "newly planted" areas of the pine plantation grows all manor of wildflowers; jasmine, honeysuckle, beggars lice, etc.

    How many hives can I place on the 6 acres and still be productive hives?

    Reply
    • GloryBee

      Kevin,
      Sorry for the delay in a response.

      There really isn't a right answer to this question. Bees can fly up to 7 miles from their hive so they'll find food sources. Some people say 30 hives per acre, but it's hard to really say and put a hard and fast number on it.

      If you're new, we'd suggest starting smaller to perfect your hive management skills, then work your way up. Also be sure to check your local ordinances as sometimes city, state, counties, etc have "interesting" rules regarding beekeeping.

      Reply

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