Tuesday, April 14, 2015

HOW TO CREATE A BEE YARD AND LOCATE HIVES

Here is the next project I completed.  Working on the area that will become the bee yard.  I found a spot near the garden (fence in the background) but not so near as to be in constant worry of bees swarming around.  I've been clearing this of brush and vines and mesquite tree saplings and now it's cleared and ready and waiting for its next incarnation as a bee yard. 

When placing hives on your property, several things should be considered:  

  • The beehive entrance (in the US anyway) should face Southeast so as to keep out the North winds in Winter and allow the morning sun to gently wake up the colony, which gets them up and out to work early. 
  • Nearby trees are good because they can provide some shade and keep the hive cooler, but you don't want full shade.  That will keep the hive damp and that's not good for hive health.  The sun needs to gently warm it up during the day so that dew and moisture dries up.
  • A nearby source of water is important too, which we have.  
  • Think about mowing as well.  You don't want them in a place where you will have to really disturb them to mow.  
  • Think about where you have to work.  Make sure you can easily get around the hives to inspect, remove honey filled frames, etc.  You sure don't want to have to carry heavy frames up a hill in the heat of Summer.
  • Also consider ventilation, making sure there is good air flow around the hives...don't put them in a ditch or gully that has stagnant air.
  • They should be level as well, with the front tilting ever so slightly (1" or less) toward the front so that any rainwater drains out.  
  • Bees are much less aggressive than most people imagine them to be so just put them in their own space and let them do their thing.  You'll love sharing your space with them. 
  • Try not to make the hive entrance in your routine and/or regular traffic walking path.  In other words, you don't want to get in their way as they come in for a landing (thanks to reader Dawn McHugh for that reminder!)
Landscape timbers
It started with landscape timbers and I kept moving them around until I found the right spot.  That's where we wanted it.  

Kraft paper in flower bed
I use steel rebar to hold the timbers in place.  My Grandfather taught me this and it always worked for him.  I put them strategically around timbers, some outside and some inside and that ends up sort of locking them into position.  The brick was used as a hammer, it saved me the long trek to the barn, ha.

Instead of cardboard, I used two sheets of thick, kraft paper.  I just put it down, lifted the timbers, tucked it under and put the timbers back down.  

Snug and tight!

Weed-block fabric flower bed
Next, I did the same thing with weed-block fabric, tucking it under the timbers to hold it all down (and on a windy day, that was a great help).  

Black mulch in hive area
Then came the mulch.  To match the garden, and what will eventually be around the house flower beds, we chose black.  This was three bags of mulch total.  Just needed to spread it out.


After I spread it around, and pounded the rebar into the ground, the last thing to do was to put the hive stands in place.  The beehives will sit on top of these.  Are stands like this necessary?  Or course not.  Many beekeepers use something as simple as cinder blocks, or build something using landscape timbers.  We like the look of these stands and so that's what we chose.  It saved me from having to build something from scratch and, being powder coated stainless steel, they will last for years.  It also makes them very stable so there is no worry of them tipping over in a windstorm. 


The stands came from HERE.  
Nothing in exchange for mentioning them, just one newbee beekeeper sharing info with others.

Hive yard
So, the only thing missing are bees!  There are flowering plants, wildflowers, etc, all over the property.  Bees fly up to 2 miles from their hives to search for pollen and nectar.  Once I have the bees in place, there will be more flowers planted in upcoming flower beds.  We also have fruit trees in bloom and, nature willing, some garden plants blooming at some point. 

Our goal however, is to eventually turn this bee yard into a flowering haven for the bees.  Several flowering bushes are on standby for plantings (if the rain will ever stop for a weekend).  Any future beehive expansion will be in this area, and we'll keep them in groups of two like this (easier to manage).  

More bee stuff tomorrow!


12 comments:

Delores said...

Sounds like they're going to have a happy home.

Dar said...

That looks great! I am a hobby beekeeper and have enjoyed the website beesource dot com . Great reliable info from master beekeepers. Bees are really calm. Move slowly. They also get used to your scent... Isn't that awesome!

Texas Rose said...

Wow - all your research, planning, and hard work has really paid off! Your beehive area looks beautiful. Your bees are going to think they are in bee paradise when they arrive!

Dawn McHugh said...

something else to keep in mind with placing a hive dont have the hive entrance facing a walk way and dont approach a hive from the front you dont want to annoy them by getting in the way of them coming and going,, if the entrance has to be near a walk way then place a barrier or hurdle a few feet away so when the bees come out they fly up they prefer to fly at about 8ft, You want to get into the habit of working fro behind the hive so give yourself plenty of space.
Your hive stands are nice looking, we tether down our hives in the winter, I never ave had a hive go over they are in a more exposed site since moving and we had some high winds I would rather take precautions if they are in an open area. :-)

Colleen said...

It's coming along nicely.
Won't be long and you'll be having happy little bees

Leeanna said...

Goodness! So many things I never considered with keeping bees.

FionaG said...

Looking goooooood!!!

Elephant's Child said...

Loving this.
And looking forward (so much) to seeing the hives and the bees in place.

Sandy said...

1st Man,

Nicely done! Can't wait to hear more posts on your bee's and keeping them.

Travel said...

Takes me back - my father was a large scale beekeeper. I have painted thousands of bee hives.

Practical Parsimony said...

How will you be able not to mow? Those stands look sharp. I would love to have a couple of hives, but the city said NO. Besides, I am afraid of bees.

Hill House said...

As an aspiring beekeeper I find your blog so interesting and helpful! Be sure to plant as many butterfly friendly plants as you can too! They are having such a hard time surviving and are so important to our environment. I just planted an acre Butterfly field up here in TN and hope to have bees down there next year.