In the last post I mentioned that choosing your hive location is very important when getting started with beekeeping. Choosing the best site is a great way to set a solid foundation for a successful year, below are some details
You want to pick a space that is easily accessible. Having a hive 2 hours away from your home will make regular inspections harder. It can also be difficult if your hive is placed on someone else’s land and you don’t have full access. Locked gates and schedule conflicts can cause added headaches. Even if your bees are your own property, choose a site that you can reach without problems and have adequate room for working. Give yourself room to maneuver and an area to stage hive boxes and supplies. Even though your hive might look beautiful on the top of a grassy hill or tucked in a wooded corner, it might make working with your hive harder than it needs to be.
Dappled sunshine is best! That means not tucked away under full shade where moisture can become a problem. It also doesn’t mean full sun where extreme heat can cause your colony to overwork to regulate their temperature. Find a good balance between morning sunshine and shade from the late day sun. Bees favor facing southeast. Make a clear flight path for your bees by not obstructing their entrance. Face the entrance away from your porch, driveway or any walking paths if located close to your home.
Next, consider level ground with a windbreak. Remember the picturesque hill…that’s a windy spot. Winter winds can be deadly for a colony, so plan on having a spot that has a natural windbreak, such as trees or bushes. I’ve seen pictures where beekeepers had arranged hay bales or small fences on the back side of the hives. Also consider the opposite extreme, the lowest point of your property. During heavy rains, water runoff can saturate the ground and can shift your hive stand and make the hive inaccessible. Provide your hive with a stable base. I used cinder blocks, others use pallets, metal or wood stands.
Yes, we all need it, even the bees. If you have a natural water source, great! Your hive will be happy with a creek or pond close by. If unavailable, it’s important to provide water near your hive. Bowls with marbles, corks, or sponge pieces work great to provide a landing spot for them to drink. Bees are very resourceful, they have been recorded flying up to 2 miles from their hive. They will find water, but it’s better to provide it rather than having them bother the neighbor’s faucet or swimming pool.
Finally, what’s legal? Ok, maybe that should be step 1. You will be fine if you act within your local laws. If you are in an urban area, in a closely laid out neighborhood, your neighbor’s blessing is helpful. I suggest talking to your neighbors about your plans, ask about bee allergies and educate those that might have fears about bees. Gifting honey or beeswax later is always a great gesture. The ordinance here in Temple, TX requires hives to be over 300 ft away from another residence.
Apiaries, 6+ hives, are required to register and mark their equipment within Texas. Use the Texas Agriculture code link below for more in depth information.. The link provided also goes into detail about the chief apiary inspector duties and requirements. Ag exemption, hive transfers and honey labeling can also be found in the Agriculture Code link provided.
Most cities have great resources on line and can provide invaluable information for the new beekeeper. The Texas Apiary Inspection site below has lots of great info on IPM, legislation, and education. Finding your beehive location is fun and exciting. Plant bee friendly flowers or a garden nearby to give your bees a wonderful place to live. Hence, possibilities are endless when creating your own bee sanctuary. Good luck!