The picture above is a great picture for new beekeepers to understand the importance of picking that special location for your bee hive(s). This is probably the number one problem new beekeepers make in this hobby. I hope that this article will help bring clarity to this subject.
The first thing we have to remember is “bees thrive in direct sun light”. The more sun, the better for your hive! I like to see, during the summer months, 8 plus hours of direct sun light on the hives. It is alright to have some shade but placing a hive in a forest will promote higher moisture levels in the hive and Small Hive Beetles here in the South.
The direction of the front of the hive should point in a Southeastern direction. The sun acts as an alarm clock for the bees. When light begins to shine in the hive, the hive comes to life. Most Smart phones have a compass or borrow a compass to get the right direction. Don’t guess what direct Southeast is!
Hive height is important so you do not have backaches after working with your bees. I place my hives on a wood frame that is approx. 2 ft. off the ground. This will discourage skunks from disturbing your hives. The height will also discourage other insects from entering the hive. Placing the hive on the ground will rot your bottom board and allow pests to easily access the hive.
Your hive should be placed where there is good drainage. This would also include getting your hive above the “100 year flood plain”. It is sad to see flood waters carrying off a hive down the stream. This will also help you from slipping or falling. Remember, those honey supers can get heavy and you need good solid footing.
You should consider placing your hive where winds from the West and North are blocking the prevailing wind. This is real important when you get a cold front coming through with high winds. These winds will blow your hive covers off and expose your bees to rain and potentially chill them. Trees and evergreens help slow the wind down and keep your hives safe. I also would look for older trees that have a branch that could break off and fall on my hive. I have an apiary that we placed in a ravine and it just happens to be a major wind tunnel that comes through that yard every time a major storm comes through. Due to the wind, we place one gallon milk containers filled with water as anchors for the hive covers.
Next thing you will need to consider is how easy is the access to your hive. Moving equipment, hive bodies, honey suppers, and moving hives will happen! So it is important that you take this into consideration before you set-up your hive for the first time,
Water is extremely important, not only during the summer but year round. Bees need water. No water, no bees. Water can be simple as placing a large bowl with rocks in it. Rocks? Yes, rocks allow the bees to land on the rocks and drink. I would not encourage anyone to place their hive near a swimming pool. If the pool is in your yard or a neighbors, it is a recipe for nightmares. Bees will fly to the nearest water source. We place shallow livestock feeding pans with rocks in them for a water source or empty plastic paint pans with a few rocks work well. Another wonderful option is a cement bird bath placed near the hives. The cement makes good traction for the bees, which they need. Water must be monitored during the Spring and Summer very closely, due to their need to air condition the hive.
If you have a question, feel free to write me.