A full hive is heavy and, as a bee lover, you wouldn’t want to stress your bees by moving them around. That’s why it’s essential to start your beekeeping hobby with a good beehive placement plan – especially if you’ll be looking to split a hive or start another new one in the future.
What Do Bees Need?
Since 2006, beekeepers have been reporting high colony losses, referred to as a colony collapse disorder (CCD). Affected colonies seem healthy and stable at first, yet the adult bees tend to leave them for various reasons:
- Poor food supply
- Parasites invading the beehive
- Pesticide pollution and poisoning
- Stress due to moving or transporting the beehive
To avoid this, it’s necessary to consider a few basic factors before starting your beehive project. If we focus solely on the bees needs, you need to pay attention to:
- Water supply
- Sun, shade, and wind protection
Owning land in the countryside will probably give you more options for keeping a beehive in a safe place. If dislocated from the residential areas, your beehive shouldn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable.
Whether in the countryside or a city, always discuss keeping bees with your neighbors before placing the beehive in your area. It might be a good idea to build a thick fence around the beehive to keep it out of sight from everyone. Don’t forget to let at least one side of the hive be open and easily reachable.
If you build a fence — it can also be a nice bush — high enough, you will make the bees fly higher. This will reduce the chances of dangerous bee encounters with your neighbors.
Honeybees collect most of the nectar and pollen from late spring to early fall. The bee colony should have enough food throughout the year to be able to survive, though. That’s why a certain number of worker bees keep collecting food no matter the season.
Bees collect nectar in a radius up to 3 miles far from their colony. When choosing the beehive location, make sure there are enough flowering plants in the area for bees to forage.
If the beehive is located in the countryside, make sure about the pesticide usage in the surroundings. Both rural and urban beehives can get affected by the radiation emission of cell towers.
In the city, you can avoid this by keeping the beehive near parks and gardens. This way, bees don’t have to travel far to forage and get too exposed to radiation. Another option is the usage of radiation-shielded honey boxes. They will protect the hive itself from high radiation exposure.
No water – no life. This goes for the bees, too. They use the water to regulate humidity in the hive and to keep their environment cool enough. Bees first add water to the hive and then cool their home by fanning their wings. Sometimes they also use water to feed the larvae, when foraging is limited due to hot days.
If there’s no natural water source in the area, you can build a special automatic water feeder for the beehive. This will prevent the bees from searching for water elsewhere. As the bees won’t go looking for water in their yard, you’ll also avoid potential problems with your neighbors.
Sun, Shade and Wind Protection
If you’ve already built a good fence, you have nothing to worry about. Bees are sensitive to wind and won’t leave the beehive in a constantly windy environment. A fence thick and high enough won’t protect them just from the wind, but can also provide shade for them.
Bees love to fly out and warm up in the morning sun. That’s why it’s best to direct the entrance of the beehive towards the east. They prefer shade in the afternoon though — except in a cooler climate. The area should be dry and prone to flooding or mold development. Keep this in mind when setting up the beehive space.
An Easily Accessible Beehive
The beehive should be hidden from the public and safe from animal intruders. Make sure the floor is dry — paved surfaces or gravel floors work best.
Take care that the side you kept open isn’t facing the beehive entrance. That would disturb the bee colony too much. You can set the beehive a little bit off the ground and make the beehive monitoring visits easier for your back.
Multiple beehives can be stood quite close together. This will make it easier for you to check on all of them at the same time when monitoring manually. Be sure to leave some space on the side of the stand, though, to lay the beehive top covers down if needed.
Whether on yours or someone else’s property, you will probably need permission to keep a beehive there. The rules on this vary from place to place; therefore, it’s best to address your city council regarding this question.
You might not need special permission — or you might get asked to meet certain technical requirements or even get a beekeeping license.
Urban Rooftop Beehive – Why Not?
Since beekeeping became more popular over the last half-century, beehives in the urban environment are pretty common. A small beekeeping practice on a flat rooftop is perfect, as the location is easily accessible, yet private enough.
Besides the necessary permissions, the only thing you need to make sure of is wind and sun protection for the hive. As you want to provide enough food for your bees, the beehive should be kept near a bigger park or green surroundings.
It All Comes Down to Basics
Whether in a rural or urban area, there are similar things to consider before setting up your beehive. Taking care of the above-mentioned basics is fundamental. A beehive should be hidden enough, yet easily reachable for the beekeeper. Besides that, a constant source of food and water, as well as good sun and wind protection, is necessary.
Carefully monitor the conditions in your beehive and surroundings. This will help you determine potential upgrades and adaptations to your beehive location.