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Beekeeping Bees DIY Hive Maintainance

Placement of the Beehives

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.

placement beehives

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.

placement of beehives

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

Hello friends, welcome! Follow along on our chicken, beekeeping, gardening, crafting and cooking adventures from Cape Cod.

  • Hi Melissa,
    Well done and good luck in your bee keeping endeavor. How very interesting and totally matches your chicken keeping and gardening style. I look forward to learning more about bee keeping as I do so many things on your site. Best regards, Maryann

    • Thank you Maryann! You are so sweet! You will have to come over for a visit soon. Hope you and the girls are well.

  • Yay for bees!! Your hives are beautiful! I love the metal roof. Be sure you put a few twigs in the bird bath. The bees have a tendency to fall in the water and the twigs makes it easier for them to climb out and dry off.

    • What a great tip Maria. I purposefully selected this birdbath because it is shallow and has a resting spot in the center. I have so much to learn and truly appreciate your comment and those like it. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    I've had bees for 2 years….& baby chicks for 4 weeks! Bees drown easily, they will need a few randomly placed small boards in your birdbath…or what I did was to buy a chicken waterer. At first I placed sponge cut into strips in the edge of it to prevent them from drowning, my latest attempt last summer though was using those colored glass flattened marble type things used for flower arrangeing…they look beautiful when clean but don't stay that way long…I love my bees :)

    • How neat that we are just doing things in reverse! Great tips for preventing drowning bees. I certainly don't want any of those. I am getting very excited and can't wait until they arrive mid-May. Thank you for being so supportive.

  • Wow Melissa, they look great! I'll have to come by when the bees are home. Joe is trying to talk me into getting some…..I'm terrified of getting stung, but then again I used to be terrified of chickens especially their evil looking eyes. How differently I see things now:)
    BTW, I agree with Maria on the twigs I read recently to put stones in the water as a landing pad for them.

    • Oh Debra, you are so sweet. Yes, once the bees come, you will have to check them out. Who would have thought you would ever keep chickens?!?! Can you imagine life without them now?

  • Anonymous

    I am so envious. I grew up with a grandfather that was a bee keeper and always dreamed of having my own hives. However, a couple of years ago I was stung by a bee (I was stung many times as a child)and had an allergic reaction of not being able to breath! Now, Epi pen always with me, I try to avoid crossing their paths:(

    Good luck in your endeavor. I'm sure you will be a huge success:) Have a great day, Linda

    • I am nervous too about being stung. I have not been stung in years. I guess they say I will get accustomed to the feeling. That makes me a bit nervous, but hopefully it will be few and far between. Thank goodness for the Epipen. Thank you for the encouragement. Hope you have a great day as well.

  • Although I do not have personal experience in beekeeping I have taken a class because I want to become a beekeeper as was my grandfather. In the class I was taught that it is important to allow yourself to become stung several times a year. Your body will become used to it and not have much of a reaction. On the other side of the coin, if you are only stung once every few years, your body has a larger chance of developing an allergy. Why don't you try it out, and let me know how it goes! :)

    • This is an interesting theory. Thank you for sharing this.

  • I can't wait to hear more about the bees and the wonderful honey they will produce. I live minutes from a cranberry bog and purchase the honey from the beekeeper that tends the bog. It it deep cranberry colored and soooo delicious, I buy it by the 5 lb. jars. Good luck, its so exciting!

    • You are so sweet! Yes, we have a few cranberry bogs in our immediate area. I bet you the bees will go there! I can't wait to see what color honey I get.

  • Great post on placement! I should have read this a few days earlier! I realized I needed to reposition them slightly after the first morning after installation. Mine are facing south to slightly southwest. Not too bad, but it takes a while for the sun to hit the second hive. And with my mouse problem in the garden this year, I think I need to make sure I turned my blocks the right way. I was very careful to level the hive on the wood chips, but I like your idea of a slight forward tilt. Next trip out to inspect, I may make some little adjustments if the bees don't mind!

    • Hi Amy! So glad you stopped in and thank! Glad you liked the post. A trick I learned to make existing hives tilt forward is adding a shim or two to the back. Instead of starting out from square one again. In the winter our local beekeeper's association recommends cutting out a piece of 1/2" hardware cloth (the length the entrance of the hive by about 3 inches. Curl it and insert it into the hive entrance. I wonder if this could be a year round solution for those mice? I'll be following your adventures in beekeeping. I hope we have successful hives this year.

    • I'm so glad you reminded me of the mice thing and hives! They were over running my garden, but I think I may have them under control… for now. I will definitely add some hardware cloth this fall after they are in for the winter.

      BTW, tomorrow (Friday), I'm featuring your blog on a post about watering bees. Do stop by if you can (and hope you don't mind me using one of your photos.Let me know if you would prefer I don't and I'll remove it asap). I'll be sending traffic your way!.

    • Just saw your notice on photos… I've clearly linked to you (it's always my policy to credit the original source), but will not post until I have permission from you! Thanks!
      Amy

    • Of course Amy. Please use the photo. You are always so good to credit. It would be my pleasure. Anytime, you have my permission. Thank you for thinking of this post.

    • Thank you, Melissa! I appreciate that. There will be a little delay this a.m. I went to post it and I lost the entire post – no clue where it went! I've never had that happen in several years of blogging! Off to re-write!

    • Finally, got it re-written. You can view it here: http://homesteadrevival.blogspot.com/2012/05/friday-inspiration-watering-bees.html
      Thanks again, Melissa!

    • UGH! That happened to me once. I was so upset that I just had to walk away from it for a few days. Glad you could re-post. Thank you too. I am off to check out your post right now! Enjoy the weekend.

    • Anonymous

      Read your posts from last year- one can buy mouse guards from the supply houses, e.g. Kelley's, Brushy Mountain.

  • Melissa, I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying your blog. I envy you–I so much want to keep bees and chickens, but I just don't know if I'm up to it. And I don't live on a farm, just a house on a half-acre in the suburbs, so I'm also not sure how compatible by dream would be with the neighborhood. I'm following you very carefully, so don't leave out a single detail. And please keep those photos coming–they're wonderful! Thank you so much. BTW, if you're successfully managing a flock of chickens, you should have no trouble at all with bees. Good luck!

    • Carolina Girl, thank you for such a sweet comment. It means so much to me. Believe it or not, we do live in the suburbs and have neighbors on both sides. I find so much is about educating myself and then then neighbors. I too don't live on a farm. I think you will find that we have much more in common with each other. If you would ever like to pop me an email, feel free. I would love to hear from you.~melissa@tillysnest.com

  • I'm putting in a coop with chickens this year and hoping to do beehives next year. The plan is to get the neighbors to accept something simple like chickens before I talk to them about bees

    • I think that is a great idea. Just remember to keep educating them along the way. Chickens and Bee have some pretty harsh (incorrect) preconceived notions floating around. You'll be surprised how you will make a difference by just keeping some in your yard. Best of luck!

  • Hello, I just found your blog. It's not only informative, but beautiful too ♥. Beekeeping is something I've always wanted to do (we already have chickens)–but I don't know if we have the space for it. Our yard is tiny, only 1/8 of an acre–but who knows? Looking forward to more reading! xxNat

    • Welcome Natalie, so glad that you are here. Bees need very really little space, they fly between a 2-5 mile radius to find what they need to survive. Sounds like it might be possible to add a hive to your existing space! Glad you are here.

  • ozarkat

    I have had my bees for a year now. I just took a beginners class and wish I had taken it last year. What I know now–yes, slight tilt for water run off. I guess I got a little water in my hive and now I have a moldy spot. Will remedy that when I get a new brood box and can swap them out.
    ~Hive boxes (supers) also come in an 8-fame size and, you do not have to use the deep super for the brood box—you can use a medium. Both of these options together means a lighter hive when lifting sections off to check your bees. I read somewhere that an avg deep frame full of honey might weigh 6-10 lbs (think times 10 and that’s 60-100 pounds to lift). Mediums could be about 50 lbs and shallows around 40 lbs.
    ~Make sure to position your hive the way you want now—moving them is a hassle—the bees orientate themselves to the hive’s location. Move it more than the width of the hive and they will lose their way and circle the old location.
    ~Instead of carrying my stuff to the hive every time, I keep a 5 gal bucket w/lid (or a plastic tote) near by with my essentials in it. Plus–you can sit on the bucket.
    ~Bees need ventilation so as not to over heat or build up too much moisture. You might want to get a screened bottom instead of solid.
    ~Do keep a notebook with your observations–the weather, any pests, problems, what’s in bloom, etc.
    ~Take a class if you can, you’ll get the necessary info as well as local info; and meet local bee keepers who can give advice or help when needed.
    ~Pinterest also has a lot of info.