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Buzz the Apiary

Apiary Location Face the Morning Southeast Sun Compass Direction 135 Degrees

One of the most important tasks for the new beekeeper is finding the proper location to setup a successful apiary. Properly located hives will survive much better in perspective to people, building, trees, or adverse weather. Placing them in backyards, on applicable rooftops, near garden is not uncommon and often makes for excellent urban pollination too. Be mindful of bushes, older trees, fences, buildings, and foot or vehicle traffic. Addison Webb comments, “A hive needs sunlight tempered with shade. Toward this end, some locate their hives in an orchard, under the younger trees. Or under the shade of an overhead trellis with straw, or dry grass, or climbing plants, or shade boards.”

Notice how and when the morning and evening sun shines on the hives and be cautious of cold winter winds blowing around hive openings. When in doubt, discuss the intended apiary location with an experienced beekeeping mentor. Study the layout and placement of individual hives in the apiary. Some beekeepers place hives side-by-side however, consider how you will properly “work” them safely. Is there enough room between hives to prevent bees from robbing a close and weaker hive? They love to steal honey from weaker hives which cannot defend themselves properly. Also evaluate you can work either side of the hive without disrupting any nearby hives.

By nature, honeybees are early risers and they begin their foraging when the morning sun starts to shine on the hive. Take note that sunrise times and angles will differ during the summer and winter seasons. Thus, the proper orientation takes precedence before setting up any hives. Find due North at the proposed location and position the hive opening facing the direction of southeast (SE), or at a compass direction between 120 to 150 degrees, if possible. This will place the opening so that morning sunlight does not shine directly into the hive, but rather at a slight angle. At ZBees Apiary, the hive openings are positioned as closed to 135 degrees azimuth as possible. Most smart-phones have a compass feature available.

A reading between 120 and 150 degrees is adequate for proper morning SE sunlight.

ZBees Apiary hives

Locating the hive opening for the best SE morning sunlight results and protection from the winter North winds.

Choosing the correct location for your hives…

Preparing for WinterWinter wrapped hives

Z-Top Hive Box needs no wrapping

1-½ inch Box Walls

Standard Langstroth Hives with 3/8” bubble wrapping

¾ inch Box Walls

Even Bumblebees love the Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Queen in cage with worker bees

Worker bees checking out their new Saskatraz queen.