Article - Beginner's Corner - Out-apiary sites
Care needs to be taken when selecting an out-apiary site. There are many factors to consider.
a) Forage. Adequate forage within a half-mile radius, including a good supply of pollen in spring and autumn such as willow and ivy.
b) Access. One should be able to drive ones car right up beside the apiary at all times of the year.
c) Shelter. If natural windbreaks are not present hedges should be planted to protect hives from cold winds from the North and East, which can occur in spring. Consider using species which are beneficial to bees e.g. Cotoneaster, Escallonia, Fuchsia, Berberis and Willow species.
d) Water. An adjacent supply of clean water is important in the form of river, stream, lake or pond. The nearer it is to the apiary the better so that bees can fly quickly to the source in the early spring, tank up quickly and return to the hive without fear of chilling. Where such a natural supply is not available a watering point should be provided by the beekeeper and this should be topped up regularly and never allowed to dry up.
e) Aspect. Southern, South-Eastern or Southwestern is preferable so that the early morning sun can shine into the apiary, heat up the hives and induce the bees to commence their foraging activities at an early hour. This is also very important in winter so that the apiary will benefit from any heat provided by the sun, which helps to get rid of damp in the hives and encourages the bees to take cleansing flights.
f) Space. Sufficient space within the apiary is essential so that hives can be spaced at an adequate distance apart and the beekeeper can carry out all the necessary manipulations in comfort.
g) Trespass. A stock proof fence should be provided. Repair and maintenance of the fence should form part of the annual programme of work.
h) Public. It is better to conceal the apiary and keep well away from roads, paths and areas which are frequented by the public. Every effort should be made to maintain docile stocks and cull and replace queens heading aggressive colonies at the earliest opportunity,
i) Shade. Dense shade is not desirable such as is provided by overhanging trees. The disturbance caused to the colony be water dripping from the trees on hive roofs can result in stress related diseases. Where the apiary is in a suntrap some light shade is important to prevent overheating of the hives in the middle of the day in summer. Species such as willows planted on the south side of the apiary will provide some shade. They are fast growing and beneficial to bees.
j) Flooding. Avoid areas such as low-lying fields beside rivers or lakes which have a history of flooding.
k) Frost. Avoid areas at the base of slopes or valley bottoms where airflow is impeded and cold air can pile up on clear still nights.
l) Other apiaries. The distance from other apiaries should be considered. It is best to plot their location on the OS map to get a true picture of their proximity. It is best to have a distance of two miles from neighbouring apiaries. It is advisable to become acquaied with neighbouring beekeepers and liase with them at all times.
When approaching the landowner, it is advisable to have the exact location identified beforehand. If you are not sure of a site the landowner is more likely to refuse
(Based on an article from An Beachaire - The Irish Beekeeper courtesy of BEES)
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