Finding an apiary site
- Choosing an apiary site is an important decision.
- Moving an apiary is a serious undertaking.
- My first involved a considerable quantity of net curtain and bags of ice.
- My second was not so bad but not something I would wish to repeat.
- Easier to make the right decision when placing an empty hive.
- Difficult to move a hive containing 50,000 bees and honey stores.
Is the site level?
- Bees will hang combs verically
- If the site is not level the hive cannot be moved around the apiary.
- If not level can you:
- Dig out a level area?
- Put bricks under the hive?
- Carry a full super up the slope?
- Get your vehicle up there?
- Does the site owner mind you levelling the site?
Is the site acessible?
- A lot of equipment has to be moved to the apiary.
- A lot of full supers have to be removed from the apiary.
- Can you get your vehicle close at all times of year?
- Can you get a wheelbarrow/sack trolley close?
- Will it get muddy after prolonged summer rain?
Is the site inaccessible?
- A full hive is worth a lot of money.
- Can bee thieves see it from the road?
- Will it still be concealed in the winter?
Is the site big enough?
- New site perhaps just two hives.
- What about when you have more hives?
- Will there be space to walk right round the hives?
- BBKA recommend 1.5 metres between hives.
- Beware of brambles and barbed wire which can tear your bee suit.
- Is there enough space to have all hives facing different ways.
- Hives facing different ways reduces drifting by the bees.
Is the site stockproof?
- Can cows get near hives to have a scratch?
- Hives fall over when cows lean on them.
- If it is near woods then can deer get into the apiary?
Can the public get near your hives?
- If people get stung and they see your hives then you are blamed.
- Keep away from public paths.
- Check with your neighbours that they do not mind.
- A high wooden fece round the hives forces the bees up above head height.
- You could put a hive in a shed with no roof.
Is water available?
- Bees require water to:
- Keep the hive cool.
- Make honey
- Water pools need stones for bees to stand on.
Is too much water available?
- With climate change rain storms are more frequent.
- A hive that is blown over may well survive.
- A hive that is washed away will not survive.
- Even damp can chill a hive and kill the bees.
- Looking at the plants may tell you the micro-climate.
Is forage available?
- Urban bees rarely suffer from a lack of forage.
- Note some flowers are bred with too many petals and pollen cannot be reached.
- Bees in the middle of a vast acreage of corn will go hungry.
- Bees need some pollen within a mile all year.
- Oil seed rape looks fantastic but season is very short.
Is the hive exposed to strong wind?
- Ever seen a plane trying to land in strong crosswinds?
- Now think of your bees in a breeze.
- Avoid windy sites.
Are the neighbours understanding?
- Do get cooperation of the neighbours.
- A jar of honey can help.
- Forewarn them about swarms.
- Swarming bees can look and sound terrifying.
- Swarming bees are only interested in protecting the queen and finding a new home.
- BBKA have a leaflet on Bees and Neighbours.
- BBKA have a leaflet on using an allotment.
So have you got a suitable site?
- Have you found a site?
- Does it satisfy all the points above?
- If not then keep looking.