Todd’s Note: This is the second guest post by Lee Flynn on bees. You can also read his previous article on the Essential Equipment for a Beginning Beekeeper. To view other articles on bees, visit the Prepper Webiste tag cloud – click here.
Once you’ve got your basic equipment all figured out, and you’ve settled on a hive design and a breed, your next important decision will be concerned with where to locate your hive. Although this decision is one that will have a great impact on the safety and productivity of your burgeoning colony, it’s also one that may be partially out of your control. After all, you may not have a wide range of locations to choose from if you’re just getting started. Thankfully, bees tend to do fairly well in most locations, provided that they have what they need to survive. Bees don’t require much space, after all. However, there are some basic guidelines that you should consider when deciding where to put the hive, some for convenience and others for the sake of the bees themselves. Because as they say in real estate: location, location, location.
Country or city?
Most beekeepers reside in rural areas away from heavily populated areas, but not all of them do; some beekeepers have managed to build thriving colonies in the heart of the city. However, not every town is as welcoming to apiculture as others. Some places may even have laws forbidding citizens from engaging in beekeeping within city limits. If you live in an urban or suburban setting, then check your local laws, and also make sure to run your idea by your neighbors (some—especially those who may have children who are allergic to bee stings—may be opposed to having a bee farm in such close proximity). If you can’t convince your neighbors to give you their blessing, then it’s best to find another spot of land elsewhere. If you decide to just go ahead with your plan anyway, those neighbors could make things very difficult for you. All things considered, you’re much better off setting up your hive out in the country.
Bees rely on the sun for warmth, but they also use it as a natural alarm clock. Bees are diurnal, which means that they sleep at night and work during the day. Setting up your hive so that it faces the direction of the unobstructed rising sun (generally southeast for those living in the continental United States) will provide your bees with the incentive to get up earlier and produce more.
Contrary to what some believe, bees don’t need to be in close proximity to flowering plants to be able to produce honey. As long as there are flowers within a few miles of the hive, your bees will have no problem finding them and transporting nectar back to the colony. Thus, you don’t need to plant a bunch of flowers right outside their door to be able to end up with enough honey to fill out your food storage.
Although the hive itself will act as a home for your bees and keep them out of unfavorable weather, other forms of shelter should be located around the hive itself. Small bushes or boards that can be used to block the wind should be placed behind the hive. Also, too much heat in the middle of summer can have a negative impact on your colony, so find a spot that has some nice, natural shade (not too dark) to keep things cool.
The hive should be kept someplace that won’t allow too much moisture to get into it, which can hurt honey production in the colony.
Be sure to place your hive on a level surface. However, the construction of the hive should allow for a slight tilt between the front and the back of the hive. Having the front stand and inch or so higher than the rear will allow rainwater to drain out naturally.
Just like every other animal on the planet, bees need water. Providing an easy to reach spot with clean, fresh water will help your bees remain productive and happy. By filling a water dish, creating a small pond, or even just leaving a faucet to slowly drip, you’ll be providing a means by which the bees will be able to regulate their hive temperature and create better honey.
Wherever you choose to set up your hive, be sure that the area is free from animals or other insects that might try to raid the colony. Pets and children should also be kept away from the bees as serious injury could result from an unintentional disturbance of the hive.
Remember, your bees will instinctively make the most out of whatever area they find themselves in. However, if you can provide the optimal conditions, they will reward you with a rich harvest.
Now, it’s time to introduce your little friends to their new home and start the hive.
About the Author: Lee Flynn is from the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, UT. After Lee spent years preparing himself, his home and his family, he decided he had to do more. In his free time, Lee helps educate those who want to do the same. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, food storage techniques, wilderness survival and self reliance. After obtaining a bachelors degree from the University of Utah, Lee moved to the Salt Lake Valley where he now lives with his wife and daughter.
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