Where Do I Place The Hive?
The hive location doesn’t really matter much to the bees, and they will adapt to their surroundings. But you can help make their lives more productive if you follow a few guidelines.
- Direction of the hive entrance
- Access to water
- Ease of harvesting
Your bees will fly miles away from their hive to find nectar so you don’t have to have a field of wildflowers right outside of the hive. However, they will burn a lot of calories the farther they have to fly to reach a nectar source. Providing a close nectar source is not only beneficial to your colony, but it will also benefit you. Plant a vegetable garden, landscaping, wildflowers, fruit trees or cover crops on your acreage. If you don’t have room on your property, make sure that there is a nectar source within a 3-mile radius of your hive.
Full sun is necessary for several reasons. The main benefit of full sun is to control Small Hive Beetle infestation. Small Hive Beetles don’t like the heat, and you won’t like Small Hive Beetles. I will discuss hive pests in a later post. Further, when your hive is in full sun, your bees will work harder making honey. They will get up early and work late!
Sunlight was one of the biggest surprises to me when I began to research. Several people recommend dappled sunlight because they stated that the hive would get too hot otherwise. The bees will fan the honeycomb to keep it from melting so don’t worry about providing them shade to help out.
Wind can knock your hive over. It can also blow the cover off. Find a place that has a natural wind block or put one in yourself. This can be a fence, trees or shrubs. If you live in an area with high winds, you should consider strapping your hive down to keep it in place. Consider placing a brick or other weight on top of your cover to keep it in place. You should also face your hive entrance away from the wind direction to prevent rain from blowing in.
We have a large row of Sand Plum bushes on the back half of our property that I am planning on using as our natural windbreak. I am not going to place the hives directly in front of the bushes because I want to be able to pick the fruit without disturbing my hives. We have straight winds and tornadoes in Oklahoma so I plan to strap our hives down. When the hives are full of honey, they will be heavy and able to withstand storms. Unfortunately, our storms come pretty early when the bees are getting started building up their storage so they won’t be full.
It is important to keep your hives dry for several reasons. Mold and bacteria thrive in moist conditions. The bees will do their best to control the moisture and humidity inside the hive, but you will want to minimize the amount of energy they have to exert on this job. The best way that you can keep your hive dry is to face the hive entrance away from blowing rain. You will also want to make sure that you weight down the top lid of your hive if you are using a Langstroth Hive.
If you live in an area that gets a substantial amount of rain you may consider building a shelter for your hive. It is also a good idea to tip your hive slightly forward so that if any rain does get inside it can drain out of the hive entrance.
As I mentioned, you will want to face your hive entrance away from wind and rain. You will want to face your entrance toward the morning sun so that your bees will wake up early and get to work. The most agreed upon direction NOT to face your hive entrance is North.
I read an interesting suggestion of placing your hives in a circle with the entrances facing out. With the circle configuration, you can do your hive inspections from the center of the circle so you don’t have to move down a row of hives. I like this idea and will consider it when and if we have multiple hives.
Your bees need access to water. They don’t care how much so it’s great if you have a pond nearby. If not then you can use a bowl or a birdbath as a water source. Put some rocks, corks or some other object for the bees to perch while they get a drink. Bees love chlorine so unless you want them joining you on your afternoon swim, you will want to give them their own source.
Bees will use the water to drink and will also take it back to the hive. They spread the water droplets along the brood comb and fan it to regulate the temperature. The water source that you provide needs to be in place before the bees arrive. They are creatures of habit so if they find your neighbors pool before the source that you offer they will continue to drink from the pool.
The ideal location for harvesting honey is one that you can walk to. However, that may not be the most suitable for your lifestyle. Keep in mind that a full box of honey can weigh up to 80 pounds, so you need to be able to drive to your hive. Your hive should also be accessible regardless of the weather. Don’t place your hive in an area that floods easily or is unreachable in the winter.
I am fortunate to have the land available so that my hives are in view of my back porch. The biggest obstacle that I will face is resisting the urge to check my hives too often.
My Hive Location
I will place my hives near the back of our acreage in full sun. I will use the Sand Plum bushes as a wind block and face the hive entrance South. This placement will be away from houses and pets. When the bees leave their hive, they will have plenty of open space to begin their flight path. I will strap the hives down to avoid toppling from deer or storms.
The only part I haven’t figured out yet is the water source. Our neighbors on both sides of our acreage have pools. Bees find their water through smell, and they like the smell of chlorine. Bees near the pool is the only concern that my neighbors have expressed so I want to do everything I can to keep them out of their pool. My husband has plans to dig a pond, but I’m not sure it will be finished before the bees arrive in the Spring.
What is your hive setup? I would love to see pictures.