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Image by Eric Ward

Apiary Site and Design

Choice of site will be a compromise between the needs of the Beekeeper, their neighbours/co-habitants and the needs of the bee colony.

Needs of the Beekeeper

The beekeeper will prefer a site:

  • Close to equipment shed

  • On flat ground

  • With easy access

  • With a firm pathway

  • Concealed to deter vandalism and theft

  • Free from overhanging branches

Needs of the Neighbours

Preferably, hives should be away from:

  • Well used gardens

  • Lawns

  • BBQ areas

  • Play areas

  • Washing lines

  • Paths

  • Community areas

Place apiary in a more remote area of the garden and arrange so that flight paths lift the flying bees high overhead quickly e.g. by placing a couple of metres from a hedge or fence.

Avoid beekeeping activities when neighbours are using their gardens for parties, BBQs etc.

Neighbours may be alarmed by the site of a beekeeper in full bee suit.

Bees that display defensive traits and following behaviour are not suitable for small domestic gardens and should be moved to out-apiary sites.

Needs of the Colony

Bees require:

  • a warm sunny area, with sufficient space around the hive to be able to identify their own hive and an easy flight path free of obstacles

  • Hives should be sheltered from prevailing winds

  • In a south or south-east facing open site away from overhanging trees

  • Not in a frost pocket

  • Near a ready supply of fresh water

  • Ample forage opportunities close by, for both nectar and pollen.

Out-Apiaries

Site should be well concealed to reduce the chance of vandalism and theft as these sites by their nature will not be monitored to the same extent as a home apiary site.

Protection from foraging animals and agricultural machinery is essential.

At different times, the site may be at the edge of an orchard, on a hillside for ling heather in August or near an Oil Seed Rape (OSR) field in the spring.

A distance from the home apiary of more than 3 miles will improve usefulness for colony rearing.

Apiary – Good Practice

  • Good hygiene is essential to good beekeeping

  • Ensure apiary is not cluttered or overgrown to reduce tripping accidents

  • Sterilize hive tools between use to reduce spread of disease

  • Avoid spilling feed to minimize robbing

  • Remove brace comb and old frames over time

  • Keep weeds and rubbish at a minimum to deter vermin

  • Clean and flame brood chambers and supers between uses

  • Clean hive floors

  • Burn old frames to reduce spread of brood diseases

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