Siting an out-apiary – Good Practice
To set up an out-apiary (i.e. not at home), we have to consider several factors. Many beekeepers have out-apiaries, as often it is not possible to keep bees in an urban environment, or because they need extra sites.
Here are some considerations when choosing a site:
- To prevent the public from being stung an apiary should not be close to footpaths or nearby to built up areas. Vandalism or theft can be a problem if hives are visible to the public.
- Vehicle access to the site is vital outside of the winter months. Honey is heavy to carry, and so vehicle access as close as possible to the hives is important.
- No livestock must have access to the site. Do not place hives too close to horses as bees do not like their smell. If a horse with a rider is stung, there is the potential for injury.
- Winter winds are sometimes cold so provide as much shelter as possible. Clearings in a spinney, copse etc. are ideal as they provide a windbreak.
- There needs to be enough forage during the active season for the number of colonies in the apiary. A large expanse of wheat is a desert for bees.
- More than one site is sometimes needed for certain types of beekeeping activities, e.g. queen rearing, quarantine of swarms etc.
- Investigate if other beekeepers have hives nearby. A colony with disease can easily infect other hives if they are too close. Too many hives in a small area can be counterproductive as there will not enough available forage. Around eight hives may be a maximum for a permanent out-apiary, depending on situation.
- A source of water is needed at times, especially in hot summers when hives are in full sun. Bees may also need water in spring to liquefy crystallised stores.
- Some beekeepers have a warning sign with appropriate text outside the apiary.
Version 1 January 2017 Owner – Executive Committee