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Guard Bees in WA - suggestion for backyard hive placement

Hello All
We are in the process of getting ready to order and set up our Flow Hive in North Lake WA. we have obtained the necessary registrations and approvals and joined the local Apiarist Club so are busy gathering all the information we can.

The location we had chosen for our hive (guided by the local council requirements) is in the back corner of our yard, within an open garden shed (sections removed from the roof and sides) and facing north. Within about 2 to 3 metres of the front of the hive are vegetable gardens that we water on a daily basis. Do you think this will trigger the guard bees? Are there times of the day when the guard bees are less active? We could put a screen in front of the hive (2 or so metres away) to ‘blind’ our activities and encourage the bees to fly upwards - would this be safer?

Thank you

Hives should always face with the entrance toward the sunrise. You want the sun to penetrate the hive as early as possible. The area immediately in front of the hive should be an area free of tall growing grass that needs to be cut I would suggest about 3 meters clear of the hive. Using loud machinery like a lawnmower might be a disturbance to a hive.
Honeybees are very docile unless there is some good reason. Guard bees are not going to be concerned with human activity like attending a garden. Guard bees are generally there to protect the hive from direct intruders at the entrance.
I would not be worried about the bees coming and going from the hive near your gardening activities. I like to sit about 2 meters away and just watch them come and go for long periods of time. It is very relaxing. I know as soon as they are there you will find yourself wanting to do the same. I would not worry about them flying around near you when gardening. Soon after you get accustomed to them you will find yourself forgetting they are there and just waking in front of the hive without thinking of it.

Thank you Joe. That is really helpful and I will have a think about how I can re-align the hive to greet the morning sun

I agree as far as the sun is concerned, however it’s not a big problem if you can’t achieve that.

I differ in regards to working in the garden while in front of the hive. Guard bees get defensive as soon as they detect an increase in CO2 in the air. Working in front of a hive can inadvertently increase the level of CO2, enough to trigger the guard bees into attack mode. Based on personal experience, I wouldn’t be working in a garden, directly in front of a beehive.


Put a solid 2m barrier in front of the hive if it turns out to be a problem. Anything to force them up. Only needs to be a few cm from the hive entrance itself.

The comments on the sun are for a perfect world. It is not the end of the world if you position your hive differently to reduce issues in the garden.


I’m with you JeffH. had my hives about 3-4m back from a vege garden and not directly in front, although ok for a short while always got harrassed after a period of time when working in the garden. i ended up building a screen.

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Maybe I had particularly docile bees. I also would engage in gardening activities during mid-morning hours after the sun had penetrated the hive for about an hour. My rule is don’t disturb a hive until at least an hour after the sun has penetrated the hive. Also don’t disturb a hive after the sun is no longer visible behind a hive. Many things are guided by angles to the sun with bees. The most likely times of the day to cause problems are early in the morning or late evening. The best times are mid-morning to mid-afternoon. This is when many bees are out foraging. Never disturb a hive at dusk or at dawn.
I found a woodchuck / groundhog stung to death outside one of my hives. Why did this mostly vegetarian sometimes insectivore animal die in this way? Likely it was foraging near the hive at twilight.
So, what’s my point? Choose the time of day you are working near a hive or doing a hive inspection carefully.

@KGL are you in Washington or Western Australia? Just curious…

Upstate New York, USA

If I was a betting person, I would say Aussie…

US people mostly don’t use metric measurements :wink:

Me too. But just thought I’d check given responses are coming from both hemispheres.

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Western Australia :slight_smile:

But all helpful - thank you!

Good to know this is an option if we need it.

We have an Albany here in WA too…

Facing the sun is better, but sunrise isn’t essential.
You can put a fence quite close to the hive, less than a meter away from the entrance, and the bees will rise above it and keep that height. The fence doesn’t have to be solid, a trellis will make most of them go over the top.


Coincidentally I was replying to a recent post on an old thread I started, and thought I’d copy the pic that shows where two of my hives used to be - a few meters/yards away from my veg garden. I moved them away from there because I was getting routinely buzzed by guards while working in it! Another solution would have been to place a bit of fencing or a trellis in front of the hives as Jim noted. Sometimes guards patrol a larger perimeter :sweat_smile:


Thanks Eva - yes I am thinking a screen might be best!