|We rarely see honeybees in our gardens, only the large bumblebees.|
So as many of you know, I am starting out on my newest adventure, beekeeping. Finally the weather warmed up literally overnight and it was time this week to kick things into high gear. The bees are scheduled to come in May and I had so much yet to do. I had to finish building the hives, paint them and find a suitable place in the yard following the guidelines. The hives also needed time to “air out” after their painting. So, I have been busy as a bee these past few days. Proper placement of beehives is key to success as a beekeeper.
After building the hives, I found a nice sunny spot and laid down newspaper. Each hive received three fresh coats of glossy white paint. Each layer of paint dried quickly in the sun. It was easy to continue prepping the hive area in yard and returning every now and then to add an extra layer of paint.
Beehive placement requires a few things:
Morning sun with late afternoon shade
The entrance should face South, Southeast or East.
The North sides of the hives should be protected from Northern winds in the Winter.
There should be space to walk around each hive.
The hive entrance should not face toward traffic areas.
The hives need to be elevated for two reasons:
1. To keep the ground moisture from getting into the hive.
2. To make it easier on your back when lifting the heavy hive components full of honey and comb.
The hives should be easily accessible to you and if not on your property, in close proximity.
The bees require a constant source of water.
The ground under and hives should be kept weed free. Some people place the hives on mulch, wood chips and even carpet remnants.
I added a layer of wood chips to the ground where the hives would be located. I placed two cinder blocks per hive on the ground, one in the front and one in the back. I laid them on their sides to prevent mice from making homes in them and ensured they were level. Next, I gave them a uniform ever so slight tilt forward. By having the hives tilted forward, rain/snow runs out of the hive verses running into the hive. This also makes it easier for the bees to clean their hive. On Cape Cod, we place the bottom board directly onto the blocks. I spaced each set about 2 feet apart.
I faced the hive entrances toward the Southeast aiming toward the rhododendron bushes. The entrances will be protected from human foot traffic. A bee loaded down with pollen has not time to fly around us. They are making a beeline to the hive. The bees will accommodate for plants near the entrance. Upon return, they will fly higher up and glide down like a helicopter coming in for a landing at the hive.
As for the water, I picked up this lovely birdbath to add to the yard near the bees. It was on Winter clearance at my favorite local gardening center. I just had to have it. I can see this birdbath and the hives from my kitchen window. It will be easy to assess if I need to add water each morning. In fact, this is something that I have added to the kids’ chore list.
So I think we are all ready for our bees. I have done the best that I can with all the requirements of placing the hive. They are now waiting for their bees. Our journey has begun and I am so excited. They say that not many people in their first year of beekeeping get honey. I guess a girl can dream.
Next time, I will give you a tour of what makes up the insides of a bee-less hive and how to prepare that for the bees.
Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest