I am currently in the process of deciding where the beehive will go. The location of a beehive is very important, and if done incorrectly, will cause problems later on. I had a unique set of challenges when deciding where to put the beehives. Beehives shouldn’t be placed somewhere where there is heavy traffic. Horses will also bother a beehive- their smell is offensive to bees. The hive should be in an easy-to-access location, as well as have a windbreak at the back of the hive. They also need dappled sunlight with good ventilation. The hives need to be completely level, and on dry land with a water source nearby. Pretty complicated, right?
I ended up putting our hives in the garden. The garden is fenced off, so horses and other wildlife can’t get at the hives. The hives are at the back of the garden, furthest from where all the food is planted. I placed them so that they were facing different directions. One was faced towards the entrance to the garden, the other was faced away. I used concrete blocks to get the hives level. They weren’t perfectly level, but it was level enough. For now, I put some small dishes of water right by each hive. I also filled it with little glass marbles. If you don’t, the bees might drown. We ended up getting Italian bees, as they are the best for beginners and the most friendly of bees. We also plan on getting a 10-frame Langstroth hive, the classic box hive. These hives are the easiest to move and manipulate. The frames are spaced the perfect distance apart so that the bees don’t try to build the frames together. This space is called the bee space. Without it, bees build spare comb called burr comb to fill in the gaps.
When we first got the bees, we installed them with some small troubles- apparently you aren’t supposed to stick your hand in the box, there’s a pull cord instead. We released the bees into the hive and made sure that the queen bees were alive and healthy. After confirming everything was in order, we closed up the hives and let them be.
The first couple inspections had no larvae in the cells they had started to build- although the last few inspections showed larvae, which is a sign that the bees have a healthy, laying queen. The bees were exploring their new home and starting to pollinate our garden.
One day, Sophia over at Stall Talk saw a large cloud of bees coming from one of the hives. It was a swarm of bees leaving the hive. I ended up capturing the swarm with some help by cutting down the tree branch that they landed on. I put them back into the hive they came from, and added queen excluders to keep them from swarming again.
However, we started to have some problems with the location. Because the hives weren’t level enough, the bees started to build burr comb instead of building on the frames like they were supposed to. The bees eventually swarmed, due to a lack of shade during a particularly warm week. I had to fill up their water containers multiple times a day- every time I went out to check on the bees, all of their water had evaporated. I ended up putting in a kiddie pool for water in the middle of the hives. I filled it up with sticks to keep the bees from drowning- it works just as well as marbles, and it’s what we had.