10 Tips On Siting A New Beehive

I really feel like this bee saga is becoming a bit of a soap opera! Will my bees ever return to their non-stressful lives of  collecting pollen, raising young and making honey??

If you’ve been following this “series” you’ll know the back story, but if not check out my the stories of the original swarm, and then the swarm that came back (but then left again). I wish I’d known a little more about moving bees and placing them in the most advantageous way

So, to keep on the topic of bees, today’s post is actually a guest post, by Deb Weyrich-Cody, who is a much more experienced beekeeper than I, and is going to share a bit about how to move bees, and set up a new bee yard. (Because yes, believe it or not, I still want bees, and still think beekeeping is a great hobby to get in to!) If you’re thinking of getting in to bees, this information will be very helpful to you.

A bit about Deb:

When my parents bought a derelict century farm in 1970 there were bees already in residence; and not just a few bees, but enough to fill four brood boxes before Queenie finally left the building.  That was it: we were all “bitten by the bug”.  Through the years Dad kept varying numbers of hives – as many as 200 at one point – and, much as I’d love to say that I was totally involved right from the start, it wouldn’t be true.  I was a normal teen with tons of time to learn “all that stuff” and sure it was around all the time; I helped a bit here and there: during extraction, packing honey, wrapping for winter but, it wasn’t until years later, when Dad began having some health issues that I got seriously involved…  Carpe diem – don’t waste a single second – for it will never come again.

When siting a new beeyard:

“High and dry” as the saying goes; remember that bees naturally use hollow trees (or walls of houses; ) as a preferred hive site.

A reliable, natural source of water nearby is critical (if forced, your bees will use the neighbour’s pool for water) with a good variety of nectar and pollen sources.
Morning sun will get the girls humming right along while a (preferably evergreen) wind break to the west will provide shady respite from the heat of summer afternoons and protection from wild winter winds.
On moving bees:
1) Be prepared! First, get the new hive site ready in daylight hours; making sure to remove any obstacles you might trip over in the dark (or later when harvesting honey supers; )
Have the entrance facing east with a very slight downward tilt to ensure proper drainage (but still stay upright and stable when 6-8 boxes tall and loaded with honey).
2) Always wait ’til dark – after the foraging yard bees have come back – before moving hives.  While you’re waiting, double-check that all your gear’s together.
3) Bees crawl at night, so make sure you’re taped at wrists and ankles to prevent gaps. {This is the step I didn’t follow, and I can attest that they will crawl everywhere! Even where the sun don’t shine :-/ -M}
4) Leave your vehicle idling: the gentle vibration keeps the bees calm(er; )
5) Cover hive entrance with strips of window screen wide enough to allow a 2 inch overlap on all sides and staple securely to prevent bees from exiting the hive.
6) Also have screening for the inner-cover vent hole (again, with an overlap) then TACK inner-cover down securely, but (using small common nails – NOT ardox – to minimise damage) leave nails slightly proud for ease of removal.
7) Leave top cover off to enable hive ventilation/cooling ’cause anxious bees are hot!
8) Secure brood boxes to bottom board (and each other if double brood chamber) some people use a cinch strap, others staple on strips of boxboard to prevent shifting.
9) Be sure to lift with bent knees and a straight back once both people are ready.
10) No matter what – don’t drop the hive!
Some of this may seem overly cautious or silly (for now; )
P.S.  If possible, you may want to leave screening in place ’til early morning when everyone’s cooled down a bit and you can actually see what you’re doing.
Good luck!
I wish I’d followed these tips when moving my bees and setting up their new hive, hopefully this prevents others from making the same mistakes I did 🙂
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3 thoughts on “10 Tips On Siting A New Beehive

  1. Great information. I’ve been educated by your series, even if it was unplanned 😉
    Bees are on the ‘someday’ list around here, but time is too short right now to take on a new project. I’m in the information gathering phase, and it might go on for a few more years…
    So, in the spirit of being prepared, how about a post on planting for season-long bee happiness? What varieties of flowers give them the best sources of pollen?

  2. Hi Marie in RI,  Bees will fly two miles for a good nectar source, so the best kind of plants for the bees are the ones that grow on their own (with no/low maintenance; )   You may want to check with your local state extension office, but here in Ontario this includes wild plants like Asters, Golden Rod, Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, Dandelion (Dad called it “the beekeeper’s rose”), Wild Mustard or Blue-bur.
    Fruiting/flowering trees and bushes like Apple, Pear & Cherry, Lilac, Basswood, Black Locust, Catalpa, Hawthorn, Maple, Sumac & Willow; Blueberry, Current, Elderberry or Gooseberry.  That being said, you can plant large – acres even – of things in the clover family like White & Yellow Sweet Clovers, Alfalfa, Alsyke, Birds-foot Trefoil or even a cereal crop like Buckwheat.
    On a smaller scale, with 1/4 of your lawn over-seeded in White Dutch Clover, as a bonus you’d have the greenest lawn in the neighbourhood and never need to feed the grass nitrogen again: )
    They also love loads of garden flowers: herbs like Mint, Oregano, Sage, Savoury, Thyme, Bergamot/Bee Balm & Cilantro; vegetable plants like Squashes, Pumpkin, Cucumber, Scarlet Runner & Wax Beans; or even Radishes and Broccoli if you leave them to produce seed.  
    (Hope this gives you a few ideas…  Deb: )

I love hearing from you and read (and try to respond to) every comment. Thank-you for taking the time to write one! "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." Ephesians. 4:29

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