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2nd hive location in small courtyard apiary

Hi everyone,

I’ll be picking up a rescued hive on Sunday and wanting opinions/advice on locating it. Its a relatively small courtyard, and i was originally going to place it on one of the upper verandahs but this gets a considerable amount of wind. And i’m not so keen on trekking through the house with all the bee gear to inspect one after the other.

The 2 options here are:

  1. in the middle of our side garden, facing the same direction (to the wall) so the bees are kept out of high traffic areas.

  2. rotate existing hive 90 degrees to face to the back and place the second hive right next to it. I’ve seen advice for and against having hives only a few inches apart, so appreciate your thoughts. The 2 hives will have different coloured hive fronts and lids.

I prefer the second, because it would be much easier come inspection time.


I would tinker with the idea of putting the new hive next to your present hive, Hard to see which way the entrance is at the moment but my thinking would be to face the both hives side by side and both facing the block wall with the pot plants on it. Move the present hive further over from the camera and move the pot plant to make the room for the extra hive and it will fit nicely there. The bees will leave flying upwards to clear the block wall and out of the way.
As for distance between hives mine are as close as 20 cms apart but I would like it around 40cms for no other reason than to hook my frame hanger to hold frames when I’m doing inspections or taking frames of honey and to make a bit more room for me moving about.
If you are needing to rotate the hive do it at about 30 degrees per day and the bees won’t have a problem finding the entrance as they return to the hive. You will have some bee drift between the two hives but that can be an advantage as well as a disadvantage but it isn’t an issue really. You will only get the attention of the hive you have open so don’t think that you will a two hive attack, the hive your not working on will basically ignore you.
Option 2 would be in position marked 1 as it will be of no advantage and loose some more courtyards space for the bees for no gain.
Option 3 is the upstairs verandah for the same reason you have said.
Just be sure the hive is strong and healthy before adding it.


Personally I would take option 2, even if the entrance is not facing into sun. I might not rotate the existing hive, unless it would help with inspections. :wink:

I have 2 hives about 8 inches apart and they did fine for many months, before the insecticide poisoning. I also know of commercial beekeepers who keep hives side by side on pallets, with almost no gap between the hives. Spacing shouldn’t be an issue for the bees, just makes inspections a little harder.


Thanks @Dawn_SD and @Peter48 for the advice. Noted regarding distance, so won’t worry about that.

Its facing toward the brick wall. So, left in the shot.

That would be perfect, but there isn’t quite the space for 2, side by side facing the same way. That pot plant is sitting on a funny corner of the brick wall which continues out to form the retainer you see in front of and running to the right of the hive. At the angle it’s currently at, it means one of the 3 legs of the hive would be sitting high, which might be manageable with the adjustable heights of the hive stand.

I didn’t even think of this… as i also use a frame hanging rack when inspecting. although i may be able to place it on the 2 oppositte sides. will have to check if that will run into the bush on the furthest side after moving the hive over.

Shall report back.

I’m a ‘fickler’ for having a frame rack hanging on the side of the hive when I am going to take frames out. Makes the job so easy and saves thinking about the order they came out in.

yes, so much easier and so much tidier for dripping honey (i usually have a little tray underneath).

So, checked and looked like the hives were fine next to eachother with enough room on oppositte sides for the frame rack…

until i realised the spread of the gabled roof which will mean i will have one foot up onto the retaining wall. Which is ok as the legs are adjustable. thoughts? Hive 2 roof is being sanded back and painted yellow today.

The other option, forgetting about the first post is to have it behind, but this reduces standing area for inspections and also means the entrance faces a bush

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I would go for side by side providing there is enough room to remove either roof seperately. Go for a light color on the roof as it will cop the heat of the mid-day sun. Looks good Rob.


Thanks Peter… all done, fitted it in right next to it with some fenagling! It’s a bit dark to photograph but will send pics in the morning. Installing hive tonight.


Your veranda is very tidy and pretty :+1::cherry_blossom::honeybee:


:blush: thanks Eva! It’s not really, just the bee area is.

Hi Rob, when you say “so much tidier for dripping honey (i usually have a little tray underneath)”, that rings alarm bells for me. I would caution against dripping honey over bees & brood on account of the potential for SHB problems.

A small honey spill can be quickly cleaned up by the bees. A honey spill large enough that actually leaks out of the bottom of a hive could be too overwhelming for the bees, in my view, thus leading to SHBs getting a chance to lay eggs in the brood.

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Hi Jeff, thanks for that and I guess the statement was vague. I have a wood tray slightly larger than an 8 frame hive that sits next to it on the ground underneath the frame hanging apparatus. If some of the honey cells in a frame are broken and drips off the frame, the tray catches it.

I also drop burr comb in there that I’ve scraped off. Then after inspecting, it goes inside and gets rinsed clean.

I’ve not had any major spills in the hive thankfully, except for the drama when I paid someone to come and do an inspection with me and he screwed up. But that’s all detailed in a previous post and lessons learned.

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And its done! After a huge flurry of orientation flights today, all had died down by 4pm, and completely silent by dark.

During the flurry, they were covering both hives, so entrance reducer went on the original hive but there doesn’t appear to be a mass of dead bees anywhere, so perhaps they were just orientating and not attempting to go in?


Excellent result Rob. Yes, both hive would have confusion but it will settle down tomorrow. You will get some bee drift but that isn’t an issue. Actually it is not a bad thing as it shows there is enough nectar about that the hives don’t have to resort to robbing. Well done mate.:smiley:

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Saturday at 12:30, just after installing brood.

Then at 4:30 pm

I think I’m going to move the closest hive about 15cm back to separate the entrances a bit more

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That is about what I would expect to see Rob, Think that you have disturbed both of the hives as well as putting a heap of strangers next door. Relax mate, give them a couple of days to settle and it will all be good. They are not fighting, just checking things out, that’s all.

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I agree with Peter, give them time to settle in.

The only drifting you get from hive to hive is when bees do orientation flights. After that, the foraging bees return to exactly where they left. I mean even the position of the entrance. Therefore with that in mind, it’s hard to imagine a bee returning to the wrong hive.

You can do a simple experiment with a piece of cardboard. Cover half the entrance, then you’ll see returning bees building up at the cardboard. Those bees would have left the part of the entrance the cardboard is covering.


Thanks again everyone, all was well today. New hive is still busy with what looks like orientation flights from early in the day so assume thats them settling… but all is well.


Excellent result Rob, In a couple of days the bees will be totally relaxed and behave like they have always been there.
Cheers. :grinning:

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