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Beehive Stands - Are they necessary?


#1

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.


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#2

I put mine as close to the ground as I can get. Otherwise I have issues with them blowing over and I find it too much work to get supers on in a heavy flow. Putting supers on with a ladder is bad enough. Taking them off is far worse.
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmisc.htm#hivestand


#3

Oh Yes, @Michael_Bush, they are very low to the ground. Ideal for managing boxes and you have quite a few of them. Do you have any issues with ground based animals getting at your bees and ground moisture rotting the bottoms of your boxes? In Australia I have issues with lizards, spiders (large huntsmen) and preying mantis stealing bees when close to the ground.


#4

No problems since I went to top entrances. Mice were a problem at any height with a bottom entrance. Skunks became a problem when I moved to the country.
http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopentrance.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#topentrance


#5

In my old location the ground wasn’t an issue. My new location has different soil and a lot of moles. The ground seems to be growing all the time so I do have to scoop out some dirt when I’m at the bottom board to keep it from growing up to where it touches the bottom board. I never had that issue anywhere else. I may have to go for a 2"x6" instead of a 2"x4" when I build new ones.


#6

Where I live, cane toads are a problem.


#7

I foolishly put 2 hives directly on a concrete pad. We had a cold snap and they both died. At the very least, put your hives on a shipping pallet.

Signed,
Lowrider in Los Angeles


#8

To somewhat follow along with this discussion of keeping and other animals out by raising the Beehives. I know we get a lot of snow at times here so I figured I’d stay a bit off the ground with some form of wood probably with something heavy to keep the stab on the ground or dug in. Mice or moles didn’t come to mind until reading on Michael’s website.

Michael, since already kind of on the topic of going from bottom to top entrance I’ve read your site on top entrances and they do seem like a wise idea as we have mice and moles here (though the moles don’t do much more than make mounds). I plan for the beehive to be in a fenced in garden area with something to keep it off the ground (pics in a new thread coming this next weekend I hope), but the idea of a top Entrance seems good, but doesn’t really seem like an option with the Flow Hive Complete.
I could just take one of the Mediums I plan to stack on top of the Deep Brood (comes with Flow Hive) and somehow (dremel?) put an entrance into it before putting the final Flow Hive with Flow Frames on the very top with their pitched top. My only worry with doing that on a box midway down (1 from the top box) would be a lip or something to help keep water from coming in with rain since all the top entrance ones I see always have an overhang.
Or maybe dremel out a bit a side of the roof of the Flow? Though if a jar was put onto the Inner to collect comb that would be worthless since the jar would block that Entrance.

I am guessing my 3rd option would be to make a shim to put between frames, but in this case I would almost rather dremel a bit out of a medium and if I need a top lip to keep water out just wood glue something over it to create and overhang.

Anyways this is all just guessing and ideas based off reading your page and looking at pictures.

Sealing off the bottom and going to a top entrance for mice reasons seems like something I’d want to do though!


#9

There are many options. You can shim the inner cover. You can notch the inner cover. You can screen the hole in the inner cover (so the bees don’t move up) and add a box to get the entrance in the clear so it can’t be closed if someone (or the wind) pushes the cover back against the notch. The extra box will come in handy for feeding over the screened hole. With #8 hardware cloth over the hole you can put a jar on it and feed through the screen which makes filling it easy.


#10

To give you an idea of what Michael is talking about, here is an inner cover with a “notch” in it. They don’t all come this way:


For the bees to use the notch as an entrance, you have to make sure that your telescoping outer cover doesn’t block the hole, as Michael says… :blush:


#11

I am going to get this Flow Hive together along with the extra Mediums (placing order soon) and will look over what I have to help decide the best option. The notch seems like a good idea and that kind of frame is cheap and I’m sure I could use a bit in a dremel to cut similar into what I have already. I’m assuming that notch goes upwards so they come through the hole and then go over to the notch and out?

Well this gives me some good ideas so I will work with it from here. Is that kind of notch opening perfect for the bees to use as the only entrance? I’m guessing so based on everything I’d read/seen about them just sealing up the large openings themselves.


#12

My typical hive currently has about a 2" wide opening all year around and those do the best. I’ve been comparing them over the years with about a 12" wide opening and they do better with the smaller one, summer and winter.


#13

Great idea MB. A top entrance for the Flow hive this way the bees don’t have to squeeze through an excluder as much :slight_smile:


#14

Good to know. Seems like a notched Inner is cheap enough that if I don’t want to modify the one that came with my hive (so I can see what works best) I’ll just snag one with my order of Mediums and hopefully it will drop right in place.

@Red_Hot_Chilipepper in my case I’m thinking about blocking off the bottom entrance for mouse reasons so my bees would still need to squeeze through to go from the Flow Frames down into my Brood boxes.


#15

I would just notch the one that comes with it. They should all have a notch for upper ventilation. You can close the notch by sliding the cover back to block it if you ever have the need.


#16

Cool. Now time to dig out the old dremel (or get a new one) to do that. 2" is what I’ll go for based on what you have found out. I wonder why the default Flow Hive doesn’t do that…it seems like so many things were thought of in the design.


#17

My guess is because condensation isn’t a issue in New South Wales. They don’t have winter there… the notch was invented to let the moisture out in winter and is not a universal thing, though several of the bee supply places provide them now in the US.


#18

Oh sure that does make sense. I was thinking I’d just put some wood right over the bottom entrance and tag into place to seal it off until they seal any openings I miss while sealing the hive.


#19

Mice can chew through wood. If you are really worried about mice, and want to give the bees an option to use the lower entrance in the absence of snow, you could use one of these:

:wink:


#20

Yeah they chew through a lot. Good call on that option. I will keep it in mind