Embarking on the journey of beekeeping? You’re in for a buzz! But before you dive in, there are some crucial decisions to make. Beyond choosing the perfect hive style for your buzzing buddies and finding the ideal location, there’s another key question: What should you place beneath your beehives?
While it may seem like a straightforward question, the answer is as varied as the world of beekeeping itself. The area around and beneath your hive stand should be solid and level, free from any vegetation.
So, what are the best things to place under your beehive? Join me as we explore a range of options, from DIY projects to readily available products.
First, Survey Your Yard’s Landscape.
Beehives can thrive in a variety of locations. Bees are accustomed to nesting high up in trees, so they’re not too picky about their surroundings, as long as it meets their needs. However, as a beekeeper, there are some fundamental factors you should consider when setting up your hives.
Given that beehives can quickly become quite heavy, the ground beneath your hives or the hive stands should be sturdy and level. If your hive were to topple over due to uneven ground, soggy soil, or a weak hive stand, it could result in a chaotic mess, leaving you feeling like a neglectful bee guardian.
By placing your hive or hive stands on firm soil or even cement pavers, you can prevent such mishaps. It’s advisable to use a level when setting up your beekeeping equipment, rather than relying on your naked eye.
Using a hive stand not only simplifies your beekeeping tasks but also extends the lifespan of your wooden equipment. Moreover, it safeguards your bee colony and beehive from hive robbers or predators like skunks.
Soil Barriers You Can Use Beneath Your Hives In The Apiary
The type of soil you have will determine the most suitable material for your situation. Remember, you’ll need to stand in this area while managing your honey bee colonies!
Here are some commonly used items that beekeepers place under their beehives. Some are aesthetically pleasing, while others are more practical:
- Paving stones, such as 12×12 cement stones around your hives.
- Dry wood chips, ideal for well-draining soil.
- Mulch, which can retain moisture.
- Carpet remnants, placed 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.
- Low-growing ground cover like thyme or creeping jenny, after killing the grass.
- Leftover roofing shingles.
- Old rubber roofing.
Should I Have Vegetation Under My Beehives?
There are compelling reasons to keep the ground beneath your beehives in your apiary free from grass and weeds. Grass under your hives will require regular maintenance or mowing.
Bees are not exactly fans of weed whackers or lawnmowers. Ironically, the peak season for vegetation maintenance coincides with the time when your colony populations are at their largest.
While tall weeds or flowers around the base of your hives can be visually appealing, they can also provide an easy route for ants and other pests to invade your colony. You might dream of a beautifully landscaped bee yard with lush plants around your hives, but achieving this can be challenging.
One major reason to avoid vegetation under your beehives is the Small Hive Beetle (SHB).
Small Hive Beetles are a significant pest for honey bee colonies. If your region is free from this pest, you can proceed with your plans for a picturesque and verdant apiary.
If you do have these beetles in your area, you can still create a beautiful apiary layout. However, you must ensure that you don’t encourage Small Hive Beetles. Many beekeepers have traps and protocols for dealing with Small Hive beetles, but their effectiveness can vary.
Beetle larvae crawl out of the hive to pupate into adults in the soil. If the soil under or around your beehive is moist or damp, it can facilitate these pesky beetles in infecting your colony with deadly diseases.
While these beetle larvae can crawl long distances, there’s no reason to make their journey easier. Perhaps some predators will feast on them during their quest for moist soil.
As beekeepers, our goal is to create a barrier between our hives and the surrounding soil. While this may not be a perfect long-term solution, it’s certainly better than doing nothing and leaving your bees at risk!
Clearly, it’s beneficial to place certain materials under your hive for various reasons. Keeping maintenance needs in mind will help you choose the best material for your hive. Will the material last all season, and will your grass require maintenance or mowing?
In regions where Small Hive Beetles are not a problem, you have a plethora of options. For those of us living in Beetle-prone areas, the decisions we make around our hives can significantly impact the health of our honeybee colonies.
With the insights from this article, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision about what to place under your hives, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of your buzzing buddies!
Title: Strategizing Under-Beehive Placements: A Comprehensive Guide
In the world of beekeeping, ensuring that bees remain happy, healthy, and productive is paramount. Many elements affect the wellbeing of your bee colony, from the environment surrounding the beehive to the food supply and in-hive parameters. However, a seemingly minor factor that often slips under the radar is what lies beneath the beehive itself. It may be a seemingly trivial concern, but the under-beehive placement has significant repercussions on hive management and the health of your bees.
The choice of suitable under-beehive placements will differ depending on your geographical location, the type of bee species, weather conditions, and your budget. Here are a few expert suggestions for what you should consider placing under your beehives.
1. Hive Stands:
Hive stands are the most common solution under beehives and play a key role in elevating the hive off the ground. This not only makes it easier to inspect and manage but also aids in protecting the bees from ground-water and opportunistic predators. Various commercial hive stands are available, constructed from an array of materials such as wood, metal, and heavy-duty plastic. They also differ in design, from basic legged stands to more flexible options with adjustable heights.
2. Concrete Blocks:
For beekeepers on a budget or those seeking to be resourceful, concrete blocks could serve as an alternative choice. They endure well in various weather conditions, provide ample elevation, and are accessible in numerous sizes for customization. Yet, be warned that they may not be efficient in controlling parasitic predators like the Varroa mite or small hive beetles.
Another compelling option is the use of wooden pallets that allow beekeepers to manage several hives simultaneously. They offer adequate elevation, ease access to the hives, and their ridges can deter ground-dwelling pests. Despite their multiple benefits, wooden pallets may decompose when exposed to wet conditions over prolonged periods.
4. Anti-Varroa Mesh Floors:
To impede or monitor mite infections, installing anti-Varroa, or screened bottom floors is highly advocated. These structures allow the mites that naturally fall off the bees to drop through the mesh, where the beekeeper can count them to estimate the degree of infestation and take decisive action.
5. Hive Scale:
Incorporating a hive scale under your beehive can be a practical option for those looking to monitor their bees’ productivity. Hive scales can relay information about hive weight to your phone or computer, providing real-time insights on honey production, foraging activities, or colony decline.
6. Gravel or Crushed Rock:
For larger apiaries or those seeking low-maintenance setups, laying down a layer of gravel or crushed rock under the hives can be effective. While not providing elevation, gravel or crushed rock ensures a neat, clean and drier underside for the beehive.
The choice of what to place under your beehive depends on your individual beekeeping needs, goals, and circumstances. When making this decision, consider your local climate, preferred work height, potential predators, disease monitoring requirements, and budget constraints. Regardless of which option you choose, proper positioning of the hive – ideally with the entrance facing east or south – in a sunny, well-drained position is crucial to ensure your bees thrive. Only when all these parameters are balanced can beekeepers truly avert risk factors and provide the best care to their buzzing companions.