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Where To Place A Beehive (What You Need To Know)

Bee Behavior - Beekeeping world
Make sure you have a good place for your beehives before investing a lot of money on honey bees and beekeeping equipment.

The ideal location for your beehive is:
  • If there are any local rules, follow them.
  • If you're facing east or southeast, you're in luck (northeast if you are in the southern hemisphere)
  • Near fresh water, nectar, and pollen sources
  • It's on a stand to keep it dry and off the ground.
  • From side to side, level
  • It's easy to get to, and there's enough of area to check and work on the hives.
  • In the summer, it is somewhat shielded from the midday sun, and it is protected from the prevailing winter winds by a windbreak.
  • Protected from the eyes of the neighbors
  • In a place that allows for optimum airflow and drainage
  • Predators are kept at bay.
However, especially in metropolitan settings, "perfect" places might be difficult to come by. Any of these factors will have varying degrees of value depending on your circumstances.

If you reside in a neighborhood with a homeowner's association, for example, laws and restrictions may be the most important considerations when deciding where to put a beehive.

This article delves into the basic concerns for keeping bees and beehive settings.

How Much Space Do Beekeepers Require?

Beehives Need Space

Despite some statements we've read advising anything from 1 to 5 acres required per beehive, you don't need much land for a beehive. A beehive requires a minimal amount of room, but the region where bees graze is rather big.

The dimensions of a vertical hive (such as a Langstroth hive) are about 16′′ x 19-7/8′′. (40.6cm x 50.5cm). Horizontal hives come in a variety of sizes, but most are roughly 48" by 24" in size (121.9cm x 70cm). An area of around 8' by 8' (2.4m x 2.4m) is more than suitable for one or two beehives, allowing for space to operate around the hive.

While food sources must be accessible, they do not have to be on your property.

Honey bees may go up to 50 square miles and forage over a distance of 2.5 miles (4 kilometers).

1st (far beyond the immediate vicinity of the apiary). Providing more water nearby, on the other hand, is advantageous during times of drought or extreme heat.

Local Regulations to Consider

The amount of space you require and where you put a beehive may be influenced by local beekeeping laws and restrictions, particularly in urban and suburban settings where neighbors are close by.

Always double-check your state and municipal laws. A local beekeeping group or the Apiary Inspectors of America's connections to particular state information might be useful.

Ordinances passed by local governments may:

  • Limit the number of beehives allowed; establish a minimum lot size for beekeeping; erect obstacles that require bees to increase their flying path in order to avoid humans;
  • Setbacks from property borders or rights-of-way are required for apiaries to be safe against incursion.
Note: For an illustration of these regulations, see Beekeeping in the City of San Diego.
In certain areas, such as New York City, you must register your beehives in addition to following site regulations.

Patterns of Pedestrian Traffic

Pay attention to traffic patterns surrounding your home if you're raising bees in a confined area.

Place hives in such a way that the bees do not annoy your family or visitors (and vice versa). Avoid facing doorways where people could be passing by.

Equipment Storage Space

Over the course of a year, your utilization of hive components and equipment will change.

During the peak honey season, for example, you might add honey supers to a Langstroth hive. Remove the supers (along with the frames) after honey harvesting for the winter and store them until required again.

It is preferable to store unwanted equipment away from the elements. Some cities, including Denver, forbid beekeeping equipment from being stored outside while it is not in use.

If you rent your house, you may need permission from your landlord to keep bees. It would be a steep price to pay to start beekeeping if you were evicted or had to dispose of your new hives unexpectedly.

Putting Beehives in the Backyard

Hopefully, you have a good beehive site on your property where your colonies may be easily monitored and managed.

If you can't raise bees on your own land, look for an "out yard" (i.e., someone else's). Out yards are often used by beekeepers with a large number of hives or limited area.

Out yards, like roofs and communal gardens, may be your sole choice for beekeeping in metropolitan locations.

Remember that removing your bees from your property makes regular inspections more difficult and time-consuming. It also makes it difficult to detect rapid changes in behavior (like swarming) or hive dangers that need quick action (like robbing).

Which way should beehives face?

East or southeast is the ideal direction to face a beehive (northeast in the southern hemisphere). The light will touch the hive entrance early in the morning, warming the colony and getting the bees out foraging, thanks to the easterly orientation. Although this orientation is often preferred, it is not required.

A variable direction to the sun may be required due to the slope of the ground, pedestrian traffic patterns, neighbor's yards, or other factors.

As previously stated, beehives should not be facing common pedestrian traffic routes, even if this means facing east/southeast.

Honey bees are adaptable.

Place beehives near sources of freshwater, nectar, and pollen.

The honey bee diet consists of three main components: water, nectar, and pollen. Bees create their principal diets from these ingredients: honey, beebread, and royal jelly.

"Near" is a relative phrase when it comes to the closeness of food sources for honey bees.

Pollen and nectar sources around the hive may be frequented by your bees. They will, however, go 2.5 miles (4.0 kilometers) or more to forage.

For additional information, see our article What Do Honey Bees Eat?

It's fantastic if you have a yard or field with adjacent trees and flowers for the bees. In addition to flying out into the distance above the trees, our bees take use of wildflower and food gardens.

You may set up watering stations to aid your bees if natural water supplies are limited (as in metropolitan areas or during droughts).

Because bees are unable to swim, watering stations should be shallow or offer a secure landing spot for them to prevent drowning. More information on setting up watering spots may be found in this nectar dearth article.

Providing water for your bees reduces the likelihood that they may visit a neighbor's pool and cause conflict.

Make Use Of A Hive Stand

Place beehives on a stand to keep them off the wet ground, making them less accessible to tiny predators (such as raccoons and skunks), give a sturdy platform, and limit the amount of bending down required to examine and move hives. Hives on stands are less likely to be covered in winter snow in colder areas.

Some beekeepers build their hives out of something as basic as a pallet (usually gotten for free). A pallet, on the other hand, is low to the ground, won't shield your hives from tiny pests, and won't aid your back.

At night, raccoons and s drive the bees awaykunks may bother and devour your bees. They may ultimately drive the bees away if left unchecked. Increasing the height of the hive makes entry more difficult.

We maintain our stands at a height of around 18 inches. To move the boxes, we don't have to stoop too low. Winter snowfalls of up to 2 feet are not unusual in our region. Hives are protected from being buried by a standing height of 18 inches.

Set beehives no higher than 18 inches from the ground. When a colony is extremely prolific, honey supers might grow piled to an unpleasant height for you to handle, even at 18 inches.

Concrete blocks may be used to make a basic hive stand.

Several hives may be supported by pressure-treated poles spanning between concrete blocks.

Wooden or metal poles may also be used to construct stands. Look for DIY stand ideas on Google Images and see what you can come up with.

Our first hive stand is an antique bed that I found at a flea market and thought would be cute (pictured nearby). Simply add pressure-treated timber, red stain, and screws, and you're done! Stand firm, hive!

Of course, you may purchase specialist hive stands that function just as well and may be more appealing to your eye. Purchasing hive supports, on the other hand, might be more costly than making your own, particularly as your apiary grows.

Note: If you're adding many hives, don't place them too close together in the same direction. It's possible that bees may "drift" and wind up in the incorrect hive. To get the bees to orient themselves to the right spot, change the angle or the facing directions.

Side-to-Side Leveling of Beehives

Setting a beehive level from side to side aids in the bees' ability to produce comb in a straight line. Otherwise, bees may construct "cross comb" linking frames, which are difficult to remove. To keep the rain and moisture out, tip a hive slightly forward.

In the winter, if condensation builds in the hive as the bees fight to stay warm, a forward tilt may be extremely beneficial.

Place the hives at a convenient location.

Place beehives in a convenient position to allow for frequent inspections, equipment changes, and honey harvesting. Allow adequate space to shift boxes and navigate about the hive. If you need a break if the bees are being extremely protective, give yourself room to walk back or withdraw.

Remember that you'll be moving heavy equipment and honey to and from your apiary when deciding where to situate your beehive.

In the summer, provide shade for the bees, and in the winter, provide a windbreak.

Beehives should not be placed in direct sunlight. In the summer, however, it is beneficial for the bees to have some partial shade or dappled sunshine. The hotter the weather, the more important it is to give some shade in the afternoon.

Cold winter winds compel bees to spend extra energy in order to keep their colony warm. Your colony might benefit from a windbreak made out of bushes, trees, or fences. Wrapping the hive with tar paper or insulation in the winter helps keep cold air out of any gaps.

Keep Hives Out of Sight of Neighbors

Just because you've started beekeeping doesn't imply your neighbors want to be subjected to the sight of your hives or be stung by bees.

Screening your hives from view also forces the bees to fly higher, over the heads of neighbors and passers-by.

Keep an eye on your bees to ensure they don't become a problem by swarming or seeking water at a neighbor's koi pond or pool.

Ensure that there is enough airflow and water drainage.

The hive will be better ventilated with good circulation, and water drainage will protect it from getting too moist. Bees are healthier and have an easier time processing honey when there is enough ventilation and no excessive moisture.

Working the hives on well-drained terrain is also easier than in a muddy swamp. The hive will have a more sturdy foundation if the earth is dryer.

Predators must be kept at bay in order to protect the hives.

I previously mentioned using a hive stand to keep small creatures like skunks and raccoons away from your hives. You'll need more than a hive stand if you live in a bear-infested region.

Honey, brood, and bees are all eaten by bears. Bears might destroy your apiary in their pursuit of food.

An electric fence is the greatest approach to keep bears away from beehives. An electric fence establishes a psychological barrier (rather than a physical barrier) to keep bears away.

Installing an electric fence is quite simple. It will cost about $300 or more, depending on the size of your apiary, the availability of power outlets, and the fence options you choose.

Consider the expense of installing an electric fence versus the cost of losing your bees, equipment, and honey.

Find out more! For more information on how an electric fence works and how to put one up, see that post How To Protect Beehives From Bears.

Other Things to Think About When Placing a Hive

What Should You Put Under Your Beehive?

Reduced vegetation around your hives (without the use of pesticides) makes maintenance simpler and may help manage pests such as tiny hive beetles and ants.

Under beehives, beekeepers employ a number of materials as a soil barrier, including:
  • The fabric of the landscape
  • Wood chips or mulch
  • Pavers made with crushed stone
  • Rubber roofing or old shingles
  • Carpet
Instead of fully concealing plants, a modest ground cover like creeping thyme may be used.

Mowing in the vicinity of beehives

Keep plants from obstructing hive entrances or obstructing your access to the bees. Consider mowing the lawn.

Bees do not have ears, yet they can hear noises by using their hairs and antennae to take up vibrations.

Grass cutting with a mower or weed trimmer produces a vibrational noise that may upset your bees. The colony's overall disposition, weather conditions, and other variables all influence how they react to noise.

You may protect yourself while minimizing disruption to the bees by:

  • Early in the day, when the weather is cooler and the bees are less busy, mow your lawn.
  • Move rapidly, particularly near the hives and along flight corridors.
  • Hives are being blown away by trimmed grass.
  • Protective gear is used in case the bees get upset.
  • Consider extending soil barriers several feet beyond the hive's footprint so you don't have to cut so close.

In my experience, predicting how the bees would react is difficult. With a weed trimmer, I've had days when they absolutely disregarded me. On other days, I was stung many times while wearing thin work gloves.

How far away from your home should a beehive be?

For your lot size, zoning requirements, and traffic patterns, place your beehives as far away from a home as possible while yet making them accessible for hive care. If not interfering with human activities, hives on a small property may be as near as 10′ (3m). On a bigger property, a distance of up to 200′ (61m) is suitable.

In general, it is preferable to place hives farther away from the home than closer.

In a tiny backyard, your options are restricted. When space is limited, the most important concern should be to operate around the hive on all sides and avoid mutual bee-human disruptions.

Consider how far you want to haul equipment and deal with hives if space is not a concern. You'll forget something or encounter conditions that need the use of extra equipment. It's convenient to be near enough to get what you need.


It's not always possible to find the perfect spot for a beehive.

Take stock of your situation and locate your beehives in the most convenient area for the bees, yourself, your family, and your neighbors. If there are any local zoning laws, follow them.

This is part of a series on how to get started with beekeeping.