Accepting / Setting-up 1st out-apiary.

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Roger.Wilco

New Bee
Joined
Mar 24, 2023
Messages
28
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21
Location
Hampshire/Berkshire
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
1
Have been talking to a farmer about siting an out-apiary (my first outside the association apiary I'm currently using). Would appreciate opinions from those that have traveled the journey before.

When positioning the hives within the apiary - does it matter what shape? Half-circle or off-set line or straight-line? Does it matter? Text-books seem to prioritize the discouragement of drifting and recommend half-circle but most bee-farmers seem to like straight lines? My current association apiary is a circle. Does the shape really matter?

After looking at various fields and discounting fields with only tractor access or with public footpaths or visible from public roads.
The following field is being offered - it is an occasional livestock field. The farmer is willing to setup fences; once the location is agreed. Just need to figure out the best location.

The image below is a not-to-scale mud-map of the field.
The right of the image is a dense copse of +50m between the field boundary and the public road.
The top of the image just above the fence is a non-public farm access track.
The field gate is used semi-regularly for access to other further fields.

Which position would folks select? (1), (2) or (3).

The "best" location in my opinion is (1); also the farmers preferred location; however, the farmer wishes that the hives be behind the hedge which isn't very long and very close to the gate.
Maybe, too close for folks getting in/out of tractors/cars to open/close the gate if the bees go "defensive" - am I over thinking this? How far from the gate would people recommend? 5m? 10m?

Next best location in my opinion is (2)... though not south facing; but would get afternoon sun.

Location (3); not south facing and would be in some shadow - but has the advantage of requiring less fencing.



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does it matter what shape?
Ease of access to work the hives should determine the shape; I use pallets and put four on each, with entrances facing different directions.

You don't say how many colonies you intend to put there, but allow for a few extra, if in time it produces well.

How far from the gate would people recommend? 5m? 10m?
At least 10m, but more would be better, which precludes 1 as the hedge length is too short. There will be days when lack of forage, bad weather or vehicle vibration will trigger defensiveness, so the further from vehicles and farm workers (beer for breakfast, aftershave, sweat) the better.

Is the hedge evergreen? If not, imagine the views from the road and avoid if hives would be visible. Don't focus on facing south because bees operate as much by ambient temp as sunlight on the porch (learned that from Roger Patterson).

Is your agreement verbal or will you confirm detail on paper? Maximum number (don't let them tie you down), exit timescale for both parties (last week Henry was asked by the new owners of a productive golf club apiary to move 20 triple-brood supered colonies in six weeks), rent (minimum of one pound of honey per colony per year, but give more) and stinging/swarm protocol for farm staff (give them suits and take them through a colony).

Livestock fence is good, but the ideal would be to get the bees flying up and away from farm traffic; the distance between gate and 2 may make that unnecessary.

Site 2 would be my choice, but I'd still prefer something more out of the way, perhaps on the edge of a copse, away from farm traffic.
 
Ease of access to work the hives should determine the shape; I use pallets and put four on each, with entrances facing different directions.

You don't say how many colonies you intend to put there, but allow for a few extra, if in time it produces well.
When I spoke to the farmer over the weekend - we talked about numbers. I'm still early in my journey and I see myself as just a hobbyist - I don't see myself going beyond 12 in one apiary and about 20 maximum for quite some time. I still have to work a day-job for now. I enjoy the bees - the produce processing is not my favorite activity.
At least 10m, but more would be better, which precludes 1 as the hedge length is too short. There will be days when lack of forage, bad weather or vehicle vibration will trigger defensiveness, so the further from vehicles and farm workers (beer for breakfast, aftershave, sweat) the better.
Thanks - makes sense.
Is the hedge evergreen? If not, imagine the views from the road and avoid if hives would be visible. Don't focus on facing south because bees operate as much by ambient temp as sunlight on the porch (learned that from Roger Patterson).
I didn't know that. Thanks.
Is your agreement verbal or will you confirm detail on paper? Maximum number (don't let them tie you down), exit timescale for both parties (last week Henry was asked by the new owners of a productive golf club apiary to move 20 triple-brood supered colonies in six weeks), rent (minimum of one pound of honey per colony per year, but give more) and stinging/swarm protocol for farm staff (give them suits and take them through a colony).
My aim will be to get something at least in email. I made it clear that it was best for all parties to know where they stand. I also explained that as hive numbers increased then termination timescale would need to also increase. At the time I considered 2 months as reasonable for my envisaged 12 hives and mentioned it at the time. I will reconsider your information above and communicate something like "number of hives / 1.5 = weeks required" to the farmer.
Livestock fence is good, but the ideal would be to get the bees flying up and away from farm traffic; the distance between gate and 2 may make that unnecessary.

Site 2 would be my choice, but I'd still prefer something more out of the way, perhaps on the edge of a copse, away from farm traffic.
Thanks for the opinion - much appreciated.
 
termination timescale would need to also increase
Try and get an agreement to exit during the off-season, when colonies will be in one or two boxes; say, September to March.

envisaged 12 hives
Will this be your only apiary? Suggest you spread the risk over more than one forage site.
 
Try and get an agreement to exit during the off-season, when colonies will be in one or two boxes; say, September to March.
Thanks - that's a good idea.
Will this be your only apiary? Suggest you spread the risk over more than one forage site.
Kinda. I have an "official" single pitch at the Association apiary which was an emergency agreement this time last year when an initial site fell-through at about the same time as picking-up my initial NUC. This year I've done AS splits and now have 2 hives and a NUC. But I must reduce back down to the single "official" pitch for winter.

So for the moment - I'm considering this farm-based non-association out-apiary as my only apiary... but I'm trying to find a 2nd location and am actively on the lookout.
 

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