When you decide that you want to start a beehive, you will need to be willing to make some important decisions. Other than the obvious deciding which hive style to use for your stinger friends and where to place them, there is another thing to think about: What should you put under your beehives?
Although what to place under your beehives seems to be an easy question with a simple answer, the answers vary, like several beekeeping things. The ground around and below your hive stand itself should be sturdy and level, without having anything growing underneath them.
What are the best things to put under your beehive? Learn with me as I discuss several things you can put under your hives, ranging from DIY projects to readily available products.
First, Check Your Yard’s Landscape.
You can keep your beehives in all kinds of locations. Bees are used to living in their hives high up in trees, so bees don’t seem to take note of their location, as long as it fits their wants and needs. However, there are some basic things you, as the beekeeper, can consider attending to when setting up your hives.
Because beehives can get very heavy very fast, the ground level under your hives or the hive stands itself should be sturdy and placed level. If you have a large colony of bees, and they were to topple over because of unlevel conditions, soggy ground, or a weak hive stand, it could be a mess, leaving you to feel like a bad bee parent.
This is unlikely to happen when you place your hive or hive stands on firm soil or even cement pavers under the legs of the hive stand. It would be best to use a level when setting up your beekeeping equipment instead of just looking at it with the naked eye.
By using a hive stand, you are not only making beekeeping and life easier for yourself, but it will also prolong the life of your wooden equipment. It will also protect your bee colony and beehive from hive robbers or predators such as skunks.
Soil Barriers You Can Use Beneath Your Hives In The Apiary
The type of soil you have in place ultimately depends on what type of material would be best in your situation. It is important to keep in mind that you will have to stand in the area when managing your honey bee colonies!
The following list gives you some options of items that beekeepers commonly use under their beehives. Some of them are more attractive, while others can be practical too!
- Paving stones, Such as 12×12 cement stones under and around your hives.
- Dry wood chips are perfect if your soil is well-draining soil.
- Mulch. Thick mulch can retain moisture.
- Carpet remnants. You can place them upside down around your hives.
- Green outdoor carpet on top of plastic sheeting.
- Rubber stall mats with pavers on top.
- Black plastic sheet material with crushed rock on top of it.
- Kill the grass and use a low-growing ground cover such as thyme or creeping jenny.
- Leftover roofing shingles.
- Old rubber roofing
Should I Have Vegetation Under My Beehives?
There are a few reasons that definitely makes sense that the ground under your beehives in your apiary should be grass and weed-free. If there is growing grass under your hives, you will have to maintain it or cut it frequently.
Bees are certainly not fans of weed whackers of lawnmowers. It is ironic that vegetation needs the most care during the summer is also the same time of year when your colony populations will be the largest.
Tall weeds or flowering growing around the base of your hives can be beautiful, but it can also allow an easy path for ants and other types of pests to enter your colony. You might be longing for a beautifully landscaped bee yard with green plants under and around your hives, but it might be next to impossible.
There is a very big reason why you should avoid having vegetation under your beehives, known as Small Hive Beetles (SHB).
Small Hive Beetles are a huge pest of honey bee colonies. If you do not have this pest in your region, you can proceed with your ideas for your beautiful and evergreen apiary.
If you do have these beetles in your area, you might still be able to create a beautiful apiary layout. However, you have to ensure that you avoid encouraging Small Hive Beetles. A lot of beekeepers have several traps and protocols for situations where they need to deal with Small Hive beetles. Sometimes these methods work, and sometimes they don’t work at all.
Beetle larvae crawl out of the hive to pupate into adults inside of the soil. If you have moist or damp soil under or around your beehive, it will make these horrible beetles’ job so much easier to infect your colony with deadly diseases.
It is crucial to understand that these beetle larvae are able to crawl long distances. Still, this is no reason to encourage them. Perhaps on their journey to find some moist soil, some predators will enjoy eating them.
Our goal as beekeepers is to create a barrier between our hives and the soil around and beneath them. This might not be the perfect long-term solution, but it is certainly better than doing nothing and letting them harm your bees!
It is always better to place things under your hive for multiple reasons clearly stated above. It will help you choose the best material for under your hive if you keep the maintenance needs in mind. Will the material last all season, and will your grass require maintenance or mowing?
In areas where Small Hive Beetles are not a problem, you have many options. For those of us living in Beetle areas, decisions made around our hives can affect the health of all our honeybee colonies.
By keeping this informative article in mind, you will be able to make an educated choice on what to put under your hives, ensuring your stinger friends’ safety and wellbeing!