Placement of hives

We’re new to beekeeping. Flow hive should arrive early December. We are wondering what the best placement of the hive would be? Should they be in a shady area, sunny area, wind protection? We are very fortunate to have recently moved to a new home on 2.3 acres, with a small year round creek in a small ravine that will provide full time fresh water, plus we have 230 feet of direct frontage on Hood Canal which is salt water, into which our creek flows. We’re visually isolated from our neighbors. The property is varied with lots of big trees and a few open flat areas. It seems pretty ideal for bees. I’m thinking about placing the hive in a somewhat sheltered and shaded flat area that is relatively close to both the salt and fresh water. That site gets very limited direct sunlight and I’m not sure if that is good or bad? The site is away from the house and workshop areas where we spend time, so there should be minimal disturbance for the bees. Our climate is pretty moderate, occasionally dipping below freezing for brief periods in mid winter, about 35 inches of rainfall, summer highs in the low 90’s. We do have raccoons that visit and an occasional black bear in the area, but the yard is fenced. Don’t think the bears get in the yard but the racoons do. And, we’ll be starting our organic garden this spring, a greenhouse, and plan to plant a variety of bee forage plants on the property.

Any thoughts on these issues would be greatly appreciated as we venture into the world of beekeeping.

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You will want to ideally place your hive in the sun facing east.

Please bear in mind I am an absolute novice and my first hive is less than a week old!

I too have a few acres of ground for selecting a site. I chose a spot about 50 metres from the house, on the downhill side of an access track, well away from neighbours. The ground slopes away from the location down two or three metres so the hive is in an elevated position. In addition, I’ve built a temporary stand so the bees are 60cm or so off the ground. This is to keep the entrance well off the ground. We have a problem with cane toads eating bees at the hive entrance.

I have really good access to the back of the hive, not so good at the front.

thanks for sharing these ideas and advice…


“Where should I put my hive?” The problem is there isn’t a simple answer. But in a list of decreasing importance I would pick these criteria with a willingness to sacrifice the less important ones altogether if they don’t work out:

Safety. It’s essential to have the hive where they are not a threat to animals who are chained or penned up and can’t flee if they are attacked, or where they are likely to be a threat to passerbys who don’t know there are hives there. If the hive is going to be close to a path that people walk you need to have a fence or something to get the bees up over the people’s heads. For the safety of the bees they should be where cattle won’t rub on them and knock them over, horses won’t knock them over and bears can’t get to them.

Convenient access. It’s essential to have the hive where the beekeeper can drive right up to it. Carrying full supers that could weigh from 90 pounds (41kg) (deep) down to 48 pounds (22kg) (eight frame medium) any distance is too much work. The same for bringing beekeeping equipment and feed to the hives. You may have to feed as much as 50 pounds (23kg) or more of syrup to each hive and carrying it any distance is not practical. Also you will learn a lot more about bees with a hive in your backyard than a hive 20 miles (32km) away at a friend’s house. Also a yard a mile or two from home will get much better care than one 60 miles (100km) from home.

Good forage. If you have a lot of options, then go for a place with lots of forage. Sweet clover, alfalfa being grown for seed, tulip poplars etc. can make the difference between bumper crops of 200 pounds (91kg) or more of honey per hive and barely scraping a living. But keep in mind the bees will not only be foraging the space you own, they will be foraging the 8,000 acres (32 square km) around the hives.

Not in your way. I think it’s important the hive does not interfere with anyone’s life much. In other words, don’t put it right next to a well used path where, in a dearth and in a bad mood, the bees may harass or sting someone or anywhere else where you are likely to wish they weren’t there.

Full sun. I find hives in full sun have fewer problems with diseases and pests and make more honey. All things being equal, I’d go for full sun. The only advantage to putting them in the shade is that you get to work them in the shade.

Out of the wind. It’s nice to have them where the cold winter wind doesn’t blow on them so hard and the wind is less likely to blow them over or blow off the lids. This isn’t my number one requirement, but if a place is available that has a windbreak it’s nice. This usually precludes putting them at the very top of a hill.

Not in a low-lying area. I don’t care if they are somewhere in the middle, but I’d rather not have them where the dew and the fog and the cold settle and I really don’t want them where I have to move them if there’s a threat of a flood.

If you live in a very hot climate, mid afternoon shade might be a nice to have, but I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.

In the end, bees are very adaptable. They really don’t care, so make sure it’s convenient for you, and if it’s not too hard to provide, try to meet some of the other criteria. It’s doubtful you’ll have a place that meets all of the criteria listed above.


Michael, I have read your higher order of needs for a hive placement, thanks. I have decided on a spot that I think best follows it. My questions is the direction of the entrance. I live in Illinois, and from what I have read the Hive should face southeast. If my hive faces southeast it will face my house, now my house is 100 feet away but it will face my house. If I face the hive towards the east it will be facing a 8-acre nature preserve/wetland full of wild flowers and a water source that begins less than 30 feet away. So which way do I face the hive? Is facing the hive southeast that important?

Facing the house that far away will not be "unsafe"
The bees will benefit from early morning sun. They don’t need a nice view :slightly_smiling:Also you can put a scope on the entrance from the house :slight_smile:

I know I am not Michael. I will keep this short. It doesn’t matter that much. Bees may get active slightly earlier in the day and gather more nectar if you face the hive south or south east. They do fine even if you face them north though.


Our hives are facing east and gets the sun when it rises over the hill, I’ve been going out before work and they are already bringing in pollen so they must be up well before the sun rises over the hill. Thing is we get some howling easterlies, generally in the morning and it blows straight into the entrances. Is it necessary to put a screen up or could I put a small wind dam just outside the entrance to deflect the winds path? Or even better should I not even worry?

I would screen them, but as a human, I hate drafts, so I assume bees do too! :blush:

Your screen can be pretty simple, a cinder (breeze/concrete) block stack or a bale of hay/straw or even a wood palette propped up on its side. Bees really hate high winds, so they will love it if you screen them off a bit.

No. It’s not that important. Right now half of mine face east and half face west…

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thanks Michael for answer questions from us newbies