As everything in life there is the ideal place for setting up an apiary. In the checklist below we give you the top criteria for the most adequate spot for your bees. But alas! as everything else in life we rarely get things exactly the way we want them so it is very true thet many a backyard and urban beekeeper simply will NOT find a location that ticks all the boxes.However,it is also true that in real life you will find many wild swarms thriving in spots that don’t meet any of those requirements.All being said ,below we shortlist the Guidelines for the perfect Bee Farming spot.
Putting safety as a priority is the mantra you often hear around the modern workplace and nowhere it is so true as in Bee farming, where you have to deal with Bee Hives with populations in the tens of thousands of stinging insects where YOU as the Beekeeper are liable for any pain that your bees cause. Luckly in Northamerica and Europe we do not have to deal with the killer bee threat and the havoc they can cause but still your first consideration should always be safety. Place your bee colonies around places with little human foot traffic.Locating your hives hidden from view also will avoid causing the jitters among neighboors and passersby.Mostly people get stung when they step barefoot on a bee so by situating the entrance of the hive facing a tall barrier ,you will be forcing your bees to flight higher as soon as they abandon the hive unless there is plenty of ground level forage around the hive.
When working the bees,you also have to think in your own confort too.Make sure they area destined for your colonies has at least two to three feet around the back side of the hive so you can stand and kneel easily. Also is important that there is some kind of shade available otherwise you will find yourself overheating in the sun specially in the Summer when you are using a Beekeeper Suit.Also since bees cool their hives using water,if you Bee Hives are sitting out in the hot sun they will spend more time carrying water to the colony to cool it off and less time carrying nectar to make honey.If you have an observation window in your hive,it is nice to have a roomy,shaded area for your hives because you will find yourself spying often on what your bees are doing along with family and friends 😉 .
PROXIMITY TO WATER
As we stated before in Number 2,Bees gather water to keep hive temperatures down and to mix with pollen to make bee-bread. Bees are highly efficient insects who are going to locate the closest water source so they are not going to fly 60 yards to a bird bath you placed for them if they find water 10 yards away in the neighboors swimming pool or in the dog’s water bowl !!.So make sure the water source you place for them is the closest water source in a straight flight line from the hive(even if it is over a wall.Remember:bees fly) . The water source should have gentle slopes or stones or floating objects on them so bees will not drown.Also make sure to scent the water with something like lemongrass oil as bees learn to use the same water source all the time if they get used to it .
Bees sense gravity and build their comb perpendicular to level ground. If your hive is on slanted terrain, the combs will also bee crooked.Make sure you either place the hive on level ground, or place garden tiles, rocks or scrap wood under the hive to make it as level as possible. If the ground is too steep there is also the posibilty of grading the slope to make it level using a pickaxe . That way you would be able to check your hives without fumbling up and down a hill.
EARLY MORNING SUN
Bees bodies have to warm up to around 35 Celsius to be able to fly .They warmup using the sun’s heat or by themselves moving the wings very fast.If there is more sun,they willl warm up faster and spend less energy doing it.Placing the hives facing South or Southeast will make the process of warming up faster and also get the hive working earlier every morning. This gives your bees more time to collect nectar and get busy making honey .That way every bee colony will be more productive.
To increase beehive survability during the winter,You have to make sure there are no strong ,icy winter winds blowing through your hive’s entrance. In many cases,some kind of obstruction in the hive entrance is enough for keeping swarm temperature from falling too low and to prevent winds from knocking the hive over,but for extreme temperatures like those found in Canada or Northern Europe,it would be best to turn to Indoor Beekeeping and place your hives inside or start over every spring with new Bee Nucs . If there are Hurricanes or very strong winds or other sort of extreme weather in your area, it would not be a bad idea to weight down or strap your Hives ahead of any extreme weather event.After all every hive is costly in time and personal resources and it pays to protect them even if It means to try your hand with Indoor Beekeeping.
Last but not least is the matter of permits and legality. The fact that a spot ticks all of the 6 Backyard Beekeeper guidelines mentioned does not mean that you can go ahead a place your hives in the place you picked.It might be that your building,condo,neighborhood or city will block you from doing it. If you live out in the boonies,then you can go on your merry way and set up all the Bee Hives you want since you do not have anyone to ask permission. You hardly see anyone anyways. It is quite different when you are planning to set up your Bee Farming operation in a Urban setting where you will be forced to check with the city, county, and state laws prior to even buying your first Hive.That way you will make sure you will not run afoul of any Local laws or regulations.