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How To Setup A Beehive

How To Setup A Beehive

The thing to remember when choosing a location for a beehive is that it does not have to be perfect.  The honeybees will make the best of it wherever they are but you do want to make your best effort to choose a location that will benefit them as much as possible so that they will be as healthy and productive as possible.  People have successfully kept honeybees on roof tops, patios, under thick trees, under a carport, on decks, apartment balconies in big cities, and many other places.  The honeybee’s greatest asset is the fact that it can fly and carry things such as food and water.  As long as the necessities are within a few miles they will simply go out and get what they need and bring it back to the beehive.  It is not necessary to have any land or property to keep honeybees.  Honeybees will happily pollinate and collect nectar from every flower they can find.

Location

Choose a location where you the beekeeper will have easy access so that inspecting the beehive will be a simple process.  This location should also allow you to harvest your honey with ease.  Full honey supers are very heavy and you do not want to have to carry them for long distances by hand.

Sunlight: Consider how much sunlight your beehive will get.  In areas where the temperature is fairly mild in the summer full sun is the preferred choice.  In areas where the temperature gets fairly high partial shade may be the best.  Placing a beehive under a large tree can often provide direct sunlight in the morning, partial or full shade in the middle of the day, and direct sunlight in the evening.  This is usually the best practice for the honeybees and the beekeeper.  Working a beehive in the direct sunlight on a hot day is not a lot of fun so think about the honeybees and the beekeeper when choosing a location.

Wind:  Your beehive should be reasonably protected from wind.  Having a few trees, shrubs, a building, or even a large rock should be sufficient.  The level of windbreak needed will change depending on your climate.  Colder areas will need a more substantial windbreak than warmer climates.

Water:  Honeybees need to have access to clean water.  Honeybees will collect water and share it with the hive much like they do nectar and pollen.  A stream, pond, or even a bird bath is usually a good source for water.

Make sure that the beehive is not sitting in standing water or in a location where standing water accumulates during a hard rain.  Colonies are healthier when they are dry and properly ventilated so stay away from damp wet places. Tilt the beehive slightly forward.  Tilting the beehive slightly forward will allow any water that gets inside the beehive to drain out of the entrance.  Be careful not to tilt it too much.  All you want to do is allow any water to drain naturally.  Tilting the beehive too much may cause problems especially if you need to stack lots of honey supers on top of it later.

Once your beehive is in place do not move it.  If you move a beehive several feet in any direction after the bees have been installed for a few days they will have a very hard time finding their way home.  You will notice a cloud of bees hovering over the original location of the hive.  So choose your location wisely and it will not be necessary to move it later.

Position

In the northern hemisphere you want face the entrance of your beehive toward the south east.  This will allow the early morning light to hit the entrance of the beehive.

The beehive needs to be off the ground.  This will help protect the wood from direct contact with the ground, provide needed ventilation, and help the honeybees defend the beehive from pests such as ants.

Strong Base

The most important structural consideration when setting up a beehive is to have a strong base.  The base is what all the weight of the beehive will rest upon.  You can use a variety of approaches to setting up the base for the beehive.  You could use a hive stand, a pallet, landscaping timbers, bricks, blocks, or make up something completely original.  The most important thing to remember is that whatever you choose must be strong enough to support several hundred pounds.  A prosperous beehive can have seven or eight honey supers and honey is heavy. 

Ventilation

Ventilation is crucial to the overall health and productivity of a honeybee colony.  Screened bottom boards are very helpful with this however it is necessary to ventilate the top of the beehive as well.  Every Golden-Bee beehive comes with an entrance reducer.  When the entrance reducer is not being used place it between the inner cover and the top cover.  This will create a gap between the edge of the inner cover and the inside of the top cover.  Air will be able to move through this gap and ventilate the beehive naturally.  It is also a great way to keep up with the entrance reducer as they get lost a lot.  Sometimes easy, simple, effective and cheap can be achieved at the same time.

Ants

Sometimes ants are a problem.  A strong honeybee colony will be able to defend the beehive from ants however if they are bad enough or if the honeybee colony is weak or new they may need a little help.  For this problem add feet to your hive stand and place the feet of the hive stand in cups of water or oil.  The ants will not be able to climb up into the hive unless they can find a way around the cups.  If your hive stand does not have feet then use stacks of bricks placed inside bread pans.  Whatever you decide do not use any pesticides or poisons.  Honeybees and ants are close relatives and anything that kills ants will also kill honeybees.

Final Setup

Once you have chosen your location and setup a strong base that is in the correct position it is time to bring the components of the beehive together.  Start with the bottom board followed by the brood chambers.  Next place the queen excluder on top of the brood chambers and the honey supers on top of the queen excluder.  Finally add the inner cover and top cover.  Congratulations your beehive is setup.  Now it’s time to add the honeybees.