Short answer is ‘yes’. You won’t see too many bees setup house on the ground, the odd swarm maybe but this doesn’t last and it doesn’t take long for the scout bees to find an alternative with a bit of height. Some of the reasons are:
- moisture, the ground can be wet and this breeds mould or fungus and encourages bee disease such as nosema
- predators, there are a lot of creatures large and small willing to take bees or their treasure
- better ventilation, bees need this to control humidity and temperature in the hive which is important for brood development and converting nectar to honey
The sky’s the limit for stands, just depends on time and money. You also need to think about what sort of bee predators are in your region, ask the local beekeepers start making a list of the animals and insects who visit your yard as this may affect the design of your stand. Some things to think about deterring are:
- bee eating birds and lizards
- rats and mice
- ants, slugs and praying mantis
- skunks and racoons
- bears (you may need an electric fence or bear proof enclosure)
Keep the ground clear beneath your hive as best you can, use gravel, concrete, pavers, sand, etc this will help you keep an eye on what’s going on with your bees. You get a lot of information about the health of your hive by observing the entrance and dead on the ground. You may also see the beetle larvae exiting the hive to pupate, telling you its time to act.
Other factors to consider include making sure your stand is not too high, if you have two or three boxes then you will need to inspect and remove these from time to time, preferably without the use of a ladder. Another factor is drainage from the hive, if you have a solid bottom board then your hive should be on a slight slope allowing any rainwater to drain out the entrance, you might like to build this into your stand.
Some sample stands photos from all over.