Best place to place my hives

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by SuiGeneris, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. SuiGeneris

    SuiGeneris Member

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    We moved to an acreage this summer, and we are beginning to work out where we are going to place the various elements of our "farm"...including the bee hives. So I hoping for some suggestions.

    The long edge of our property runs east-west, and a small creek runs north-south that divides the front third (house + grass + some trees) from the back two-thirds (currently dense brush). Within a bee's flight-range (from any part of the property) is a good section of the creek and the river it dumps into (all heavy bush), several apple orchards, some vegetable farms, corn/wheat/soya fields and lots of ditches full of flowers...plus all the flowers in the bush portion of our property - so I'm not too concerned about placing the hives relative to food sources.

    Our plan for the back is to raise goats, and that is also where I'd like to place the hives. I've found two good spots with decent sun (plus some mid-day shade - it can get pretty hot here in the summer). Both spots are close to the creek (which includes an artisanal well that continually leaks into the creek bed, so it never goes dry), and which are well separated from any spraying our neighbouring farmer would be doing.

    The major difference between the two spots is traffic - one site is set ~ 8m/25' back from where I am currently building a bridge and will be putting in a tractor trail. Advantage to this site is access, but its also positioned near where we will be walking/tractoring by every time we head into the back. The second site is located at a similar distance to the creek, is physically closer (by 100m/300') to where we are putting in a large vegetable garden + fruit trees, and is near the end of the road after the bridge. It is also located near where we will be putting in the permanent pen for the goats. So its less convenient, but in a place with lower human traffic (but lots of goat traffic, dung, etc), and is a bit closer to the garden (which we hope the bees will help us out with).

    A third option, which I'm not a fan of, is placing the bees in a small valley further back in the property. There isn't a lot of direct sun there, but it is very protected from the wind (the other sites have some protection from trees, but are otherwise high-ish points on the property. It is quite a bit further away from a year-round water source than the other two locations, and is nowhere near any planned trails. In other words, its got good protection from wind, but not much else in terms of my convenience.

    What would you recommend? Or does it even matter given my choices?

    Thanks

    Bryan
     
  2. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    honey bee hives should be in direct sun light facing south, thats seems to be the most important, the first year I had my hive, I figured protected under some trees would be best, and the mites took over and killed the hive through the winter...after some more research and asking the bee keeper I bought my nuc from, the best place was full sun as that helps keep the bees healthy, as far as food and water, the bees will fly for miles to find them..out of the way may be the best place and you can make a trail or pathway to them..
     

  3. ccjersey

    ccjersey Member

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    Convenient access is great.

    Until I get out the weedeater I have no trouble with mine. I had 5 that were about 6' off the edge of the driveway that goes to cropland, wells etc. Granted there is not a lot of foot traffic, but I would not expect trouble there either.

    I grew up with a bee yard of probably a dozen hives on one side of our driveway and a cow water trough on the other. You learned to keep your mouth shut while bicycling through their flight path!

    After the one weedeater experience, I just spray with Roundup!
     
  4. SuiGeneris

    SuiGeneris Member

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    Thanks for the advice!

    @roadkillbobb Full sun at either of my two preferred sites is definitely possible (in the summer at least); its simply a matter of shifting the location of the bee yards a few meters one way or another. Winter is another issue, as we get pretty low-angle sun, so even fairly remote trees can cast a bit of a shadow. Most of them are deciduous trees though, so they shouldn't cast too much shade.

    Dumb questions about "facing south"; by that do you mean the hive opening should face south, or simply that one side of the hive should be orientated southwards?

    @ccjersey My personal preference was for right after the bridge (with the 8m setback), and it sounds like that may be viable. Roundup is not an option due to the laws regulating spraying near waterways. Instead I am planning on digging the bee yard to soil and putting ground cloth + gravel down to keep out any plant/weed growth...sortof a more work early = less work later type approach.

    Thanks again for the advice.

    Bryan
     
  5. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    the opening of the hive, the front, should not be facing the path, in my experience. I have mine facing a privacy fence that is 6 ft tall, about 8 ft in front of the hives, so bees fly UP and children do not walk in front of hives.

    I use pond liner under my hive stand. If ants get to be a problem I can hide ant bait under the pond liner so my hens don't get it.

    I have had a goat in my apiary, she was a large nubian, and that was exotic, fencing issues to keep the goats from perching on top of the hives can be challenging.

    Sunshine is excellent. Gets hot in Texas too. I actually face my hives east here.
     
  6. SuiGeneris

    SuiGeneris Member

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    Thanks @Gypsi We get a lot of rain, so a pond liner would make...a pond. Groundcloth does a similar thing, but doesn't let plants grow through (but less durable, I would imagine).
     
  7. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    I would think the bigger reason for the pond liner is it is solid and nothing can eat its way through it, so for the control of hive beetles it would be better than a fabric that insects could get through and up to the hives right above...thats why I treat the ground so nothing will live in the soil below the hives..
     
  8. SuiGeneris

    SuiGeneris Member

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    I've never had anything come through the groundcloth before; its pretty thick and meant to keep weeds and pests out (while still allowing for some drainage). I'm not talking about the cheap garden-centre stuff, but rather the heavy stuff (5min, I think) sold at the tractor supply.
     
  9. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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  10. Sour Kraut

    Sour Kraut Member

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  11. SuiGeneris

    SuiGeneris Member

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    Thanks @Sour Kraut...I think I can squeeze all of that into the site nearest the bridge!
     
  12. Sour Kraut

    Sour Kraut Member

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    DON'T 'squeeze'....give yourself plenty of room around each hive, sides and rear
    Ideally, enough to get a wheelbarrow in between them....supers of honey are heavy, save your back
     
  13. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    Im working on splitting hives and build up a few to move upstate, I have the location all picked out, because of large predators like bears I have to build a heavy duty electrified fence around the hive area, I picked the back of the barn where the roof wont drop snow on the hives and I have electric to plug the fence into, south facing a large pond in full sun..I will probably use some heavy ground cloth like you covered in stone and the wall of the barn will act like a wind break...that will be next years project..
     
  14. SuiGeneris

    SuiGeneris Member

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    @Sour Kraut Squeezing was purely metaphorical; there is room in the envisioned space for a dozen or more hives, with a few meters between each hive...and I'm planning on starting with only one or two.

    @roadkillbobb I may also have an electric fence setup; more to keep any wayward goats off than anything else. We don't have bears in the area, but we do have possums, raccoons & skunks, so I may go with electric netting in place of a charged wire. That said, there seems to be a lot of other ways to keep those pests out, so I may not need the fence. We're running a lot of electric fences right now, so an extra few meters isn't a big deal.
     
  15. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    what other ways do you have to keep those pests away? I have all those little critters too, I have some friends that have hives upstate and they dont have any protection, one puts out boards with nails sticking up so the pests wont walk on them , but I feel that is way too dangerous and if some person walked or fell on rusty nails it would end badly, so I wont do that..it seems to be pot luck if the hives get disturbed by any animals..
     
  16. SuiGeneris

    SuiGeneris Member

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    I've read about a few methods, but since I'm new I've not tried any of them for bees specifically.

    One element was the design of the hive base; there are base-designs which lack any sort of a "lip" between the frame and the hive, which (apparently) limits the ability of critters to climb up and perch on the hive. More work to build than a few boards placed on cinder blocks, but (assuring they help) may be worth the effort. My wife has requested that I build bases that aren't too ugly, so if I'm going to build a fancy base I may as well build one that helps with pests...plus, some of the designs I've seen allow for black boards to be added in winter, to reduce drafts under the hive and to provide some additional warmth. So I may be able to kill three birds with one stone if I build those.

    There are also skunk/coon carpets - either home-made or commercial. These are essentially what you described; mats with nails/tacks poking through that are placed sharp-side up around the hive. We've used a commercial version in our vegetable garden for several years with good success (against coons and skunks; no possums at our old place in the city). The ones we have could easily be replicated by pushing tacks through a thin rubber mat - long enough to hurt any paws that tread on them, but short enough that they wouldn't maim an animal or go through your shoes if you accidentally stepped on one. Not something you'd want to place in a high traffic area though, and you need to move them anytime you're working near them.

    The third thing is predator control lights - solar-powered LED lights that come on at dusk (some continually, some controlled by a motion sensor). A few beekeepers have said they work in some youtube video's I've watched. Our neighbour swears by them for keeping coons, coyotes, foxes and weasels away from his chickens, and for keeping deer out of his garden, and the one he lent too me kept the raccoons out of a beer I was coolshipping in the back yard (assuming they were around).

    Bryan
     
  17. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    interesting, I have a koi pond that I tried motion detector lights and water spray to keep the raccoons away from eating the fish, once the smart little buggers learned they wont be harmed, they chowed down on some of my fish, im afraid thats all that would happen with the bees..im going to stick with the electric fence , it seems the easiest and least chance of hurting someone...
     
  18. SuiGeneris

    SuiGeneris Member

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    @roadkillbobb Are you using a changed wire, or an electrified net? My reluctance to a net is the cost. A wire + posts + an energiser is pretty cheap.
     
  19. ccjersey

    ccjersey Member

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    While not as cheap as single strand electric fence wire, chicken wire a couple feet wide works for all the small varmits. Does take some attention to detail if using steel posts and insulators intended for stranded wire. The darn stuff is easy to get smashed in and short out on the posts but also easy to push it away to clear the short.

    Lots of practice trying to keep raccoons out of sweet corn for my mother. So far my dog and the bees themselves have kept the varmits out of the hives here.

    We did have a couple of rabbits that got their heads stuck in the electrified chicken wire somehow. It would seem to be impossible for them to get in there without being shocked and repelled first, but 2 of them did it. Probably a high percentage of the local rabbit population too. Between the coyotes and fire ants, cotton tails have had a hard time here. They are usually seen more near houses with dogs than out in the countryside.
     
  20. roadkillbobb

    roadkillbobb Active Member

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    ill be sinking in old utility poles into the ground ( I have a bunch and a big auger for my tractor) and ill run the electric wire rather close to keep the small critters out on the bottom and then wider for the bears at the top, I will also have heavy wood supports backing up the wire so if they push against the wire it wont break.. and ill see if that keeps em out..