A week ago we asked our followers on Facebook what topics they would like to read about on our blog. Our fan Charlene asked the following question:

“what is ideal temps (areas of the country) for beekeeping and where is the best spot for hives (in full sun, part shade, outskirts of a wooded area, etc.)”


What a great question! While there are no specific ideal temperatures for bees, they will not fly in very cold temperatures and of course there are often no flowers in bloom in the winter in colder areas for nectar or pollen. However very hot weather has its own issues as hives can overheat and then the bees spend lots of time and energy trying to cool off the hive. Each specific area of the planet will have its own concerns climate wise but there are some good basic principles for hive location that apply to many if not most beekeepers.

So where do you put your beehive? What things should you consider when you place your hive? The easiest way to think about it is that a beehive is just another tiny house and many of the same concerns you might have for your home apply to the house for your bees.

Where would you put your little home?

  • For most everyone you’ll want to avoid an area with high winds, especially if they are cold winds. No one wants a cold wind blowing through their home and bees don’t either!
  • Their little home should be easily accessible to you as you’ll hopefully be hauling out heavy boxes of honey in the comb and you won’t want to trek through a huge field to get to your transportation. Just like at home, hauling stuff to get to your front door is a consideration here too, though this particular concern is more about you the beekeeper than the bees.
  • If you live in a cold, wet area then full sun is a great idea. Just like choosing a site for your own home in such a climate, a location deep in the dark woods will make for a cold, damp and possibly moldy home. Not ideal for bees or us.
  • However the reverse may be true for areas where the temperatures are very high in the summer as no one wants to feel like they’re baking in their house. And while for you cooling off the home means a higher energy bill for bees it also means a higher energy bill, but in this case it’s their energy spent towards cooling off the hive rather than gathering nectar and raising new bees. Ideally a tiny home in a hot climate will have some good afternoon shade to keep the bees from the extreme temperatures.
  • Bees are a bit like us when it comes to getting up and going to work. No, they don’t throw the alarm clock across the room or hit snooze multiple times before getting up, but they are affected by sunlight and aren’t fond of going to work in the dark. Place your hives in a location where they get good early morning sun to get your girls out and working a bit earlier and hopefully make for a healthier and happier hive.
  • The final concern is traffic, in this case the intersection of human and bee traffic. You don’t want to place your hives in a place where you’re going to have to block the flow of bee traffic on a regular basis and while simply walking in front of the hive often won’t result in you getting stung (depending on the temperament of your bees) it still interrupts their flight path and thus their ability to get work done. No one likes something in their way when they’re working hard.

Not every parcel has a perfect location for hives and often we have to make concessions, placing the beehive in the best location for what we have available. Take a look around your property and think “If I were going to live in a little house here, where would I want to be(e)?
What concerns do you have about hive placement where you live? Let us know by posting a comment below!

Photo courtesy of Jamie and Shawn Dehner. You can get a free small bungalow plan like the one above on their website at www.smallhousecatalog.com.

13 Responses to “Where Should I Put My Beehives?”

  1. Al Hildreth

    I like your response and explanation. I wanted to add a couple things. I live in the southeast US and summers are hot here. I was taught to point their entrances to the east to get them up as early as possible to gather honeydew from plants. I tried some pointing away from morning sun and they produced about have as much honey. Also, I have found that putting them in full sun works, but they do spend a lot of energy cooling the hive. Luckily, we have a lake nearby for water. When I’ve place hives in shade in many differenct places, I seem to get small hive beetle infestations.

    My preference for location would be a flat piece of land, near a natural body of water (not community pool), where the hive(s) could receive morning sunshine until about noon, then have shade, and lastly have a windbreak through the winter months.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Jessica

      Great points and thanks for sharing. If only we could all have the perfect place for our climate but often we make do with the best of what we’re offered!

      Reply
  2. Dayne

    If I’ve already started new hives a week ago, can I move them 40-50 feet to take advantage of afternoon shade which I hadn’t considered until I read this?

    Reply
  3. Sharon Tracy

    I live in Volcano Hawaii, in a rainforest, but we do have areas of sunshine on the property. I read the placement article with interest. Now I just have to find the best spot. We do have the hive beetle infestation on the island. I have seen many beekeepers at the various farmers markets. I look forward to learning more. Mahalo.

    Reply
  4. Shirley

    I live in Phoenix Arizona, and I have shade cloth on the fence to keep the afternoon sun shade, summer and winter. I thought, and no idea where I got it, that the entrance was always to face the south. Has anybody heard that. I used to raise bees in the high dessert- about 10 degrees cooler and that was perfect. I am on a half acre.

    Reply
    • Jessica

      Shirley, in general you want it to face to as much daylight as possible… that means in the northern hemisphere we’d face hives to the south and in the southern hemisphere to the north.

      Reply

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