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One of the topics that can be discussed in natural beekeeping, is apiary location. To have hives capable of surviving without chemical treatments, everything within an operation should be scrutinized. Apiary location or "hive placement" is no exception. Of course this all is "location" oriented, and may change, based on local conditions.

We know for northern climates, some basic facts.

1) Hives are more productive if in full sun. Many of the past written books, were written before many of the problems that plague today's hives. The main points years ago were that "hives have morning sun, and afternoon shade". This was for two reasons. One, so bees got moving early in the day, and two, to help beekeepers deal with the afternoon heat. Afterall, who wants to inspect hives in August at 2 pm, when it's 96 degrees out?

But we know that hives produce more overall when hives are in the full sun. They work earlier in the morning, later in the day, early in the spring, and later in the fall. You can see this demonstrated all the the time when you have a hive in spring feel the effects of the warm morning sun and compare that to a hive in the shade where morning dew does not "burn off" as fast. Do your hives a favor....put them in a location where they will have the maximum of sun. You can always as the beekeeper, crack a lid in mid-summer when the temps get high.

Many secondary diseases are also what they call "stress" diseases. These include chalk, SAC, and others. And they are directly impacted by such things as cool temps, moisture, and the ability of hives to operate efficiently by spending more time doing what they need to do, instead of dealing with providing additional cluster heat due to a cool shady location. The quicker they can break cluster, the more they can groom, deal with hive problems, collect nectar, etc. If a sun located hive can work 10% more over a shade located hive, that does not just translate into more nectar collected, it translates into a hive better able to deal with other issues.

When looking at a large apiary, where some hives were in full sun or full shade, hives in the shade have been shown to have a higher overall mite count. This is not due to mites "migrating" to the shade hives. It is directly linked to the hives ability to spend extra time in matters such as housecleaning, grooming, and working more throughout each day. Bees in sun operate more efficiently, and with mite control, that is not an exception. Bees handle mites better when hives are in full sun. The same can be said of hives dealing with SHB.

I give a presntation called "Building a silver bullet, one B-B at a time". One of the main points is facing the fact that there are no magic bees, and no magic hives. Nobody has mite resistant bees. They may have bees better than the next guy. But nobody has a mite resistant bee. And no matter what you hear, no "type" of box or comb, will provide mite resistance. Things many times are based on "this being better than that", which may be true.

But what you should do, is understand the small advantages of every equipment option and management task you make. By itself, it may not mean much. But a 5% here and a 5% there, really adds up when your talking about overall hive survivability. And hive location, with wind protection and full sun, helps tremendously. And why worry about all other things if your bees are disadvantaged by the very first thing you do, that being selecting a poor apiary site.

Hives in full sun....a step on the road to natural beekeeping succees!
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