How High Off the Ground Should a Beehive Be?

As with most beekeeping issues, the question of ideal beehive height yields as many answers as there are beekeepers. The right height ensures you, the beekeeper, can easily access your hives for inspection while protecting your bees from ground-dwelling predators like skunks and racoons. It should also be high enough to keep water out when it rains.

In this article, we'll discuss the factors to consider when choosing the ideal elevation to help you decide what works best for you.

Recommended Beehive Height

Many beekeepers prefer to raise their hives around 18 inches off the ground, but that’s not a rule. Commercial beekeepers place their hives on pallets that are only four inches high. A lot depends on your local environment, which leads us to the next section.

Your Beehive Is at the Ideal Height When:

The Beekeeper Can Work without Straining Their Back

When the beekeeping season begins at the end of winter, you’ll spend plenty of time opening and closing your hives. Between splitting colonies, checking for mites, checking for eggs and brood and checking for honey, you’ll find yourself lifting frames, supers, and brood boxes multiple times during the season. If you’re not careful, you could seriously damage your back.

It might not seem like such a big deal for the hobbyist with a handful of colonies, but with time, constantly bending and lifting takes its toll. That’s why this point is first on the list. The first bit of business is to take care of the beekeeper. The bees are more adaptable than we are.

It Will Stay Dry and Well Ventilated

Depending on where you set up your beehives, a little elevation will keep the bees dry when it rains or if the area is prone to flooding. 6 to 10 inches high should be enough to keep the entrance clear of ground-level moisture and protect the bottom board. You can also add a top entrance so your bees can access their hive even when it snows or rains.

It Keeps Nuisance Neighbors (Skunks and Racoons) Out

If humans didn’t interfere, bees would build their nests high in the trees. The thick trunk keeps the bears out, and the height keeps them hidden from ground-based predators. Placing the hive at an adequate height reduces the risk of damage from skunks and raccoons. If your bees are in bear country, you need more than elevation. Get an electric fence.

Elevate Your Beehives with Beehive Stands

Now that you know high your beehive should be, we’ll look at the stands you can use to elevate it. You have several options: wooden stands, metal stands, cinder block stands and plastic stands.

Wooden Stands

Wooden stands are a popular choice for many beekeepers because they are easy to build and offer a stable base for the hive. They can be built to any desired height. Wooden stands are also versatile, allowing beekeepers to customize them with various features such as adjustable legs or built-in hive tools.

Metal Stands

Metal stands provide a more robust and durable option for beehive support. Unlike wooden stands, metal stands are less susceptible to rotting or termite infestations. They are also easier to maintain and clean.

Cinder Block Stands

Cinder block stands are cost-effective and easy to set up. All you do is position the blocks where you want them, ensure they are sturdy and place the hive on top of them. 

Cinder blocks are durable and moisture-resistant, making them pretty popular.

To create workable space between hives, some beekeepers place planks of wood through the blocks to build a bench. With enough space between the hives, you would have room to place hive covers, frames or supers at a comfortable level without bending at all.

Plastic Stands

Consider a plastic stand if you’re looking for something a little lighter to carry. Some have hollow legs that you can fill with sand for added stability. They are easy to assemble, relatively affordable and resistant to water and insects.

Bonus Tips: What Questions to Ask Before You Place Your Hive in Your Apiary

Is the Ground Level?

When installing a beehive, it is crucial that the hive is on level ground. Bees will construct honeycombs in line with the pull of gravity. If the beehive isn’t level, the bees construct irregular comb patterns, known as cross comb, making inspections a nightmare. When you’re setting up your apiary, add a level to the toolkit.

Does the Site Ensure Beehive Ventilation and Moisture Control?

Proper ventilation in a beehive is essential to maintain the health of the bees and their ability to produce honey. A well-ventilated hive helps regulate the internal temperature, preventing overheating during hot weather and condensation during the colder months, which could lead to problems such as mold. In addition to choosing the right height for your bees, select the best location. Providing a windbreaker by situating them against a wall would prevent wind gusts from chilling them. Face the entrance away from the wind and avoid setting up the hive next to swampy still water.

Ultimately, proper installation and placement of a beehive ensure a healthy and happy bee colony, optimizing honey production and minimizing potential issues. 

Choose What is Right for You

If it were up to the bees, our hive stands would be 25 ft high, which is what Tom Seeley, respected bee scientist and author observed as their ideal nest height. But unfortunately for the bees, you are calling the shots so you need to find a middle ground. Since the equipment is yours, you get the top spot in the prioritization list. Once you know what level the beehive has to be to work effectively, check that the bees will be safe and healthy. It is truly that simple.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose the right size hive stand for my beehive?

To choose the right size hive stand for your beehive, you should consider the dimensions of your beehive, the weight it will support, and the stability of the stand. Measure the length and width of your beehive and make sure the stand you select has a larger surface area to ensure proper support. Additionally, consider the weight capacity of the hive stand, as it should be able to support the weight of a fully loaded beehive. Finally, check for stability and durability to ensure the stand can withstand various weather conditions.

How can I ensure that my beehive is safe from extreme weather conditions, such as high winds or heavy snow?

Firstly, ensure that the hive is elevated and stable, as this will help to prevent moisture buildup and reduce the risk of collapse due to heavy snow or high winds. Secondly, place the hive in a sheltered location, such as near a wall or a tree line, to provide additional protection from the elements.

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