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Can You Put a Beehive in the Woods?

Have you wondered if your beehives can be placed in the woods? Let’s find out.

Sunlight, climate, and seasonal changes are all factors that can affect your bees and your ability to take good care of them.  Putting your beehive in the woods is possible, but some basic rules apply to placing beehives in woodlands.  The rules are usually flexible, so don’t worry.  Putting your beehive in the woods is fine as long as you make sure the beehive is placed where it gets enough sunlight.

Here, we discuss the best placement of your beehives and helpful tips for you setting up your hives.

Keeping Bees in the Woods

In beekeeping and beehive placement, there are a few general rules.  There are some things bees need to thrive.  Primarily, bees need shelter away from the wind.  Secondly, bees need good sunlight for the hive to warm up.  When the beehive is not warm enough, your bees will stay in it, trying to keep the hive warm. 

Therefore, it is essential to have a clearing set up where the beehives get enough sunlight with any woodland beekeeping.  Beehives will not thrive in heavily shaded woodland areas.  Another problem with putting your beehives in the woods is small hive beetles that thrive in shady woodland areas.

The small hive beetle is a beekeeper’s nightmare. This pest is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa but also found in other locations, like North America.  The small hive beetle is a destructive pest of honeybee colonies, causing damage to stored honey, comb, and pollen.

Small hive beetles flourish in shady woodland areas but don’t like full sunlight.  Keeping your beehives in an area where the hive gets full sun in the day will eliminate the chance of small hive beetles invading your hives.

When keeping bees in the woods, the beehive must be placed on a stand.  Putting the beehive on a stand keeps the bees safe from woodland creatures, like scavenging badgers and raccoons.  If your woods are remote, your harvest could be a bit hit or miss, and you might need to choose a strain of bees who are not prone to swarm. 

If you decide to go with the woods option, place the beehives at the edge of the woods. Your bees will forage in the trees, but the hive will sit on the edge in the sun.  Choose the woodland’s edge, field, and river bottom first, where enough sunlight is available.  Generally, there are more flowers available for the bees to forage on in sunny areas anyways.

What Do Bees Need?

Shade or Sun or Both?

It all depends where you live in the country and on the temperatures in mid-summer. You need to watch the hours of sunlight and which locations in your yard are in full sun. Typically, your beehive should get early morning sun. The early morning sun is what gets the bees out of their hive earlier in the day to start foraging.

They need optimum sunlight for the hive to warm up.  It is important to know that beehives need to maintain a constant 33-degree Celsius temperature. Usually, in the country’s Northeast, beehives can remain in the full sun for the whole season.

In places with warmer climates, it is recommended that beehives receive some afternoon shade.  Bees must have early morning sun, little to moderate midday shade, and afternoon sun to thrive.  Never place the bees in a low area where cold air settles in winter; this will kill the bees faster than any other location. 

No direct wind

Beehives should be placed in an area with a windbreak like a hedge, shed, fence, trees, bushes, or shrubbery.  A windbreak is especially important in climates where the temperature can drop below freezing. You should ensure that the North facing sides of your beehive is always protected in the winter, especially in the northern United States.  When you live in the Northeast, your beehive entrance should preferably be facing south or southeast.

Space Between the Hives

Make sure you place your beehives with enough space between the beehives to have good access. The space should allow you to walk and work between and around the beehives comfortably.

Available Water Source

If you are going to keep your beehive in the woods, make sure there is a water source nearby. The third essential need for bees is water like a pond, nearby river, or stream.  Bees can fly up to two miles in search of water and food, so water does not need to be right next to the beehive, but the closer the water is to the beehive, the better.

Place the Beehives at Perfect Height

It is a good idea to elevate your beehives on a platform or cinder block to keep ground moisture out of the beehive.  An elevated beehive will allow you to work without harming your back.  It is easier to lift when your beehive is elevated.  However, don’t make the platform too high.  You do not want difficulty lifting the honey supers out during the foraging season.

Ease of Access

Putting your beehives in the woods will make access more difficult.  Easy access where you can see your beehives helps you do inspections and take care of the hives.  You should be able to walk or drive right up to your hives.  Walking in the woods to find your hives while carrying all your equipment will quickly become difficult.

Easy access to your hives is necessary. You will need to work your hives more frequently during peak times of the year, and when you harvest your honey, you will be carrying extremely heavy boxes. That’s the reason to have easy access to your beehives, so the responsibility of caring for your bees doesn’t become burdensome or difficult.   Follow the seven-step rule, which means no more than seven steps to the truck.

Facing Entrances

Place your beehive, so the entrance face is in the opposite direction of any foot traffic.  This helps prevent the bees from perceiving people and animals that walk in front of the hive entrances as potential threats.  Put the hives on the edge of the woods facing them towards the woods. Placing the hives this way also gets you out of their direct flight path.

Think about Predators

Before you put your beehive in the woods, check with your neighbors if there are any predators in the area, like bears or skunks.  Electric fencing might be required to secure the safety of your beehives.

Placement Near RF-EMF Radiation

When keeping your beehives in the woodlands, make sure you don’t place your beehives within 300 meters near any RF-EMF radiation sources like cell towers and smart meters. RF-EMF will impede the bee’s ability to navigate. 

Bees, birds, and insects use the Earth’s magnetic field and high-frequency electromagnetic energy like light.  Technically produced electromagnetic oscillations in the MHz range and magnetic impulses in the low-frequency range disturb natural orientation and navigation mechanisms.

Security

When honeybees can choose their own home, they usually pick a spot about 10 feet off the ground. The instinct to build their homes in a high place works well.  A skunk is a terrible nuisance at a hive.

Skunks will wait outside the hive entrance to catch bees as they come out, rolling each one on the ground before popping the bee into its mouth like a snack.

Raising your beehives at least 18 inches off the ground will keep your bees out of the reach of most skunks.  Bears are a bigger problem, and if you are keeping bees in bear country, it is vital to set up an electric fence around your beehive.

Bears can devastate a hive, easily ripping it to pieces to eat the honey and bee brood inside.  The money and time you have spent in beekeeping will be gone in an instant.   An electric shock will keep a bear away. For this reason, it is important to install an electric fence if you are going to put your beehives in the woods.

Old Saying

There is an old English beekeeping saying for a reason, “Bees in a wood never do good.” Choose warm, sunny, and dry locations. Do not choose areas that are prone to flooding or habitually damp, shady, and cool, like at the bottom of a slope or hill. Placing your beehives in places with too much shade or cold winds is a poor choice. 

Conclusion

Honeybees can thrive in almost all-natural or domesticated environments, although they prefer to live in orchards, gardens, meadows, and other areas where flowering plants are abundant. Putting a beehive in the woods or preferably on the edge of the woods is entirely possible if you follow the few points discussed above.

The only thing you can do is to prepare the colonies in advance. Ensure the beehives are placed in a cleared area protected from winds and predators.  There should always be sufficient sunlight to warm the hive up in the morning to get the bees up and about and on their way.

Sources

Frank Pearmain

As a homesteader, survivalist, and previously a safari guide in Africa, I have extensive bush and wilderness experience. I am passionate about living a self-sufficient, off-grid lifestyle and continuously learn and strive toward that goal!

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