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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.


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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