Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A New Bee Yard

Crystal and Ed Anderson are building a new bee yard. The eager beekeepers got off to a good start last year with one colony in their Tennessee back yard. They placed the hive behind a fence to isolate it from pets. Like many beekeepers, they started their colony from a package of bees and a mated queen. They watched the colony expand and build sheets of comb on foundation. The colony produced a surplus of excellent honey, which Crystal and Ed collected. They left the bees enough honey and successfully carried them through a colder than normal winter. After gaining experience working their own and other colonies, they decided to expand their beekeeping operation by adding a bee yard away from their home and a second hive next to the original. Having more than one hive gives them the advantage of having bees and brood to share between hives. Hive problems, like the loss of a queen, can be corrected by moving frames from one hive to the other as needed.

To avoid conflicts, a bee yard is planned with human and animal neighbors in mind. An important consideration is access. Since bee hive equipment is heavy, the bee yard should be near a road, passable in all seasons. Sturdy hive stands are placed to provide good circulation of air. When possible, beekeepers face the hives toward the east or south. A clearing is preferable to an enclosed area in the woods. A bee yard in the full sun has fewer problems from Small Hive Beetles than one in the shade. Afternoon shade helps the bees cool the hive in the summer. An evergreen wind screen is helpful in the winter. There should be a source of clean water within a quarter of a mile of the bee yard. The honey yield from the hives will depend in great part on the nectar sources in the area. Crystal and Ed move a hive to their new bee yard.

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