People often ask me what they should consider when setting up a beeyard on their property. Although there are some simplifications for the home beekeeper, the process I use for establishing outyards may help explain the considerations involved for the home hobbyist as well.
Not a problem for yourself (landowner) or the neighbors
From our club's Novice Booklet: " Choosing the proper place in the yard to set up a beehive is a factor that should be considered well in advance to the arrival of the bees. Once the bees Amark the spot@ they will not tolerate having the hive moved after they are established in it. Bees do not remember the hive but rather the spot where the hive is relative to fixed landmarks. The standing rule is to move the hive more than two miles or less than six feet at any single move. If more than two miles they will reorient themselves because of unfamiliar surrounding. Less than six feet will appear to be within their navigation accuracy.
A place most desirable for the bees should offer light shade of deciduous trees to help keep the hive cool in the summer time and still allow the sun to warm it in the winter, early spring and late fall. Since the hive location will probably be chosen in the winter or early spring, when no leaves are on the trees and the path of the sun is more southward in the sky, allowance must be made for the effects of having leaves on the trees and a more northern path of the sun. Heavy shade interferes with navigation from the sun and doesn't allow the sun to warm the hive as early in the morning or as late in the evening. If in direct sunlight, the bees will spend too much time and energy trying to keep the hive cool on hot summer days. It should be noted that some experts feel that keeping bees in direct sunlight tends to make the bees work harder. The actual daytime temperature in the summer plays a major role in that choice. In this area, whenever possible, the entrance of the hive should face south to help in their orientation of the sun, to warm the entrance, and to minimize the effects of having wind, rain and snow blowing in the entrance.
Picking a location with a minimum of traffic in front of the hive is very important. Bees can be rather intolerant to people, cars or animals passing back and forth in front of their entrance. It is especially annoying for a tired bee, returning from the field, to have to try to maneuver around moving objects. Also, on take off they need room to gain altitude without having to avoid moving objects. A fence or hedge five to ten feet in front of the hives will encourage a more rapid ascent and make areas in front of the hedge or fence more freely usable. "
Convenience (and safe) for you
Hives loaded with honey and bees are heavy. There will come a time when you will want or have to move a full hive or at least full supers. Traversing a steep bank with a heavy load is dangerous. Try to place your beeyard where you can get to it easily with a cart or better a vehicle. I like to be able to see the bee yard from a normal travel path or the house so that unusual occurrences are spotted.
I want to put the yard out of direct sight from the road to avoid drawing attention and I don't want to place the yard at the bottom of a hill. We have vandals who like to roll tires down hills at hives. Some thought beforehand can make things a lot easier and safer for many years to come.
Visit our club web site at http://www.tianca.com/tianca3.html for complete schedules and directions. Also, check out a site I'll use for a general beekeeping column, https://experts.longisland.com/beekeeping