Where is the best place to setup my apiary?

By Value Magazine Team on 5 September 2020 at 08:59 am
Langstoth bee hives in an apairy

What are the factors to consider when setting an apiary? How many hives should you set up in a single apiary? 

An apiary is a location where beehives of honey bees are kept in beehives. It might range from one beehive to hundreds of beehives. The site for your apiary will affect the quality of honey you harvest, the life of your bees, and the people around the apiary. 

One of the most asked questions is how many hives that one can put in an acre of land. The number of hive one can put on an acre of land depends on various aspects that we are going to look into as we go through this article. 

Availability of Flowering Plants

Bees will forage on flowering plants. One factor you need to consider when setting up an apiary is the flowering plants in your area and the seasons they bud and flower. The flowering plants should be enough to attract bees to the area. The plants should be able to provide enough nectar for the bees in order for them to produce high amounts of quality honey. 

The best areas for apiaries are forest woodlands and grasslands that have dense covers of flowering shrubs, thickets, and shrubs. These can also be fruit farms, coffee farms, or near forests. 

Some beekeepers plant flowering plants such as sunflowers so that their bees can get enough forage so as to make honey. 

Availability of Water for Bees

Bees use water for bodily functions, cooling, and feeding larvae. The site for the apiary should be close to a constant source of water. In the absence of a permanent water source, you should provide water in containers. Place floating sticks or pebbles in the water for bees to stand on as they drink water. This keeps them from drowning. 

Proximity to Human Activity

Bees like quiet places where they are not disturbed or stressed. The apiary should be placed in an area where they are away from towns or where a high number of people gather. The apiary should be far from schools, busy roads, or residential estates. 

A good distance to place your bees from these places like homesteads is 300 metres. 



Natural Hedge or Fence.

The apiary should be placed in an area where trees and bushes surround the hives. This will make the bees fly up high, minimizing the risk of conflict between bees and human beings or other animals. 

The site of the apiary should be fenced so that animals do not bother the bees. 

Protection from the weather and other hazards

The apiary is a home for the bees that should provide shelter from wind, frost, floods, and the hot sun. This protects them from being stressed so that they can focus on making honey. Strong winds will cause the bees to drift away and also affect their communication. 

Where there is no natural shelter, an artificial shelter should be provided. 

The location of the apiary should be well-drained, as high humidity will make the bees absconding. If the location of the apiary is waterlogged, the posts of the apiary or bee stands can rot. 

The hive should not be placed in areas where there are frequent bush fires. The ground vegetation can be trimmed so as to minimize the risk of fire. 

Ease of Access

The apiary site should be easily accessible to make it convenient when inspecting the hives and harvesting honey. It should be in a location where transporting honey from the apiary will be possible. Imagine transporting honey from cliffs or steep hills!

Safety from predators and pests. 

Pests and predators can make beekeeping a pain. They may destroy hives, steal honey, and force bees to abscond. The apiary should be placed in a location where it is possible to keep the bees safe from pests and predators. 

Chemicals and Pesticides

The apiary should be placed in areas where there are no harmful chemicals in the environment.  This includes factories that release gases into the atmosphere. If the apiary is near farms that use pesticides, coordinate spraying so that it is not done when plants are flowering and peak foraging seasons. You can also use bee-friendly pesticides, that won’t harm or irritate your bees. 

How many beehives in an apiary? 

An apiary collection of beehives can carry many hives. An average of 50 hives can be placed in one apiary where there are enough flowers for forage, for example, a forested woodland. In grasslands where there is sparse vegetation, 20 to 25 hives can be placed.

Bees forage in areas within a radius of 5 kilometres. If the flowers within that radius are few, the bees will be forced to travel further and may look for new shelters in those areas. 

The distance between apiaries also depended on the flowering sources and the number of beehives in the area. Apiaries should be place at least 3 kilometres apart.




My bees drink water from motor vehicle wheel tyres which I keep clean. Tyre has so many advantages : it's not smooth so no bee drowns, keeps the water warm hence have warm taste. Bees easily and comfortably reach and drink water. It's bees and environment friendly.
Wyciffe Mmboku

I am a startup orchard farmer who is also very keen to start an apiary

I am in beekeeping training, so interesting that's why I want to know much

I need to learn more about this
Thank you

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By Value Magazine Team

Value Magazine was founded in 2018 by Mutuku Ndeti, a farmer with interests in poultry, horticulture, and fruit farming. You can follow him on twitter here. The goal of Value Magazine is to offer beneficial content on agribusiness, value addition, manufacturing, and productivity.  We believe not only in producing but also adding value to the product. 

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