Most beekeepers keep a few hives ‘at the bottom of the garden’. This can be very convenient but it may not always be the best location. The site that honeybees are kept on is called an apiary. Factors to be considered when selecting a site for an apiary:
- Is there sufficient forage to support the bees, and produce a surplus?
It is difficult to assess the foraging potential of a specific location. Bees can thrive on inner city sites and starve in open countryside. Clearly some idea of the potential can be gained by observation of the flora of the area, but the best method is to place colonies on the site for at least one season.
- Is there a possibility of risk to humans or animals?
This is especially relevant when considering siting an apiary at home. Neighbours (and family members) may not share your interest in bees. Many members of the public have a great fear of stinging insects. It is your responsibility as a beekeeper to ensure you do not put the public at risk from your activities.
- Is the location adjacent to a public thoroughfare?
The proposed site should not be next to a public footpath. Manipulation and inspection of colonies causes many bees to take flight. Remember that members of the public, on the other side of the hedge will not be wearing veils!
- Is the site protected from the prevailing wind, and from frost?
Colonies will not thrive if they cannot keep warm throughout the year.
- Is there a risk of flooding?
Bees can’t swim!
- Is the site accessible by road, at all times?
Beehives, and supers full of honey are heavy and bulky. Easy access to the site makes beekeeping much easier.
- Is there an adequate water supply close by?
Bees need access to water, especially early in the season. Bees collecting water from a neighbour’s washing or pond can cause a nuisance.