Beekeeping – A Good Location for a Beehive?

My research into starting up beekeeping continues. I’ve been reading lots of books, listening to beekeeping podcasts, lurking (and posting) on various beekeeping forums and have now contacted the local beekeeping association.

My main worries have revolved around the location and whether or not our garden would be suitable for a hive or two. I’ve spoke to the neighbours about it and they all seem quite happy with the idea and positively excited / interested in some cases. Most people living out here are nature lovers so anything that adds to the local wildlife and improves pollination in their gardens is a good thing.

Beehive Site

Beehive Site

We want to keep the bees in our garden as the main reason for having them is for the interest of being able to watch them go about their business, and as an interesting addition to our wildlife friendly garden. Honey produce will of course be a welcome by-product but we wouldn’t be keeping them soley for the honey. I’ve marked out a suitable area of the garden for a hive that is far enough away from the house and other houses, gets some sun but also has a little bit of shelter. I can install the hive in such a way that the entrance faces SE. We rarely get SE winds so that will provide them some protection and it also faces out away from the houses and into farmland which should be ideal. The vegetation provides some shelter and access is easy.

I’ve also spoken to the local beekeeping association and will attend one of their meetings soon. Hopefully I’ll be able to don some protective gear and see how I feel about inspecting a hive. I will see if someone with a little more experience can pop out here to check the location and see what they think of it. I don’t think it will be perfect but with a little bit of thought and effort hopefully it will be suitable.

The fact that we are right on the coast here has a number of implications for beekeeping though. First of all is the area available for the bees to forage. They will fly up to 3 miles in search of nectar and pollen, but obviously the closer they can source this to their hive the better. Clearly thanks to our location, there is no land to the west of us and much of the area to the North and East is tidal estuary so the 3 mile radius circle that the bees would normally be able to forage in (providing an 18,000 acre area) is reduced considerably here to probably around 5,000 acres. Most of that is grazed grassland and raised peat bog in the form of Borth Bog.

It is possible to feed the bees yourself to supplement their needs, especially at certain times of the year is there is a dearth of suitable food plant available. Borth Bog should also be able to provide the bees with some of their needs.

The other issue is the exposed nature of the area, with winds that not only blow in off the sea but also our very own katabatic wind called Ivor that funnels down the valley here. Bees don’t really like the wind so this could pose a problem too. It should be possible to screen the hive itself with trees and shrubs, but if the wind really settles in it could prevent them from flying too far for a few days which could pose a problem. Again, I can always supplement their needs with some extra feed.

It is impossible to tell how a colony of bees will cope here though without trying and knowing in advance the problems they may face will hopefully allow me to do my best for them and give them everything I can to help them cope and thrive in the area.

6 Responses

  1. Alan says:

    I’ve been asking about some of my concerns about keeping bees here on a few forums: http://www.britishbee.org.uk/forum/

    I’ll post some of the replies I’ve got below:

    Al.

  2. Alan says:

    I live right by the sea on the north coast of Cornwall – wild sandy dunes in front and wild uncultivated land on nat trust headland to most of the rear (apart from neighbours) Bees are semi-sheltered by hedge on 2 sides, and garden netting 2 metres high on the other 2 sides. They face NE – not ideal but S/SW takes them right across the neighbour (who they still manage to paste with cleansing flights) The bees have done very well on the forage – particularly the ivy in sept last – and brought an amazing few frames of honey from random sedums which grow wild. They continue to thrive – unfortunately I have to move them because of their cleansing flights. But they certainly found plenty of random forage – gorse, blackthorn, wild privet, bramble, hawthorn, bit of rosebay willow herb, various fruit trees, ivy of course and weird and wonderful plants that I don’t know about!! Hope this info helps. We get massive Swesterly winds and cold northerlys – I did overwinter on a BB & 2 supers tho, so bees could go up. One hive was a WBC & the other a swarm in a national – both colonies still going well.

    Gill

  3. Alan says:

    Al. I know Borth well. I spent many a happy day there surfing as young lad. lol.

    It is a pretty unique place weather wise. Given its open disposition and coastal frontage.

    I suspect the bees as long as you can give a wind break to the hive, will cope ok. You would be surprised at how tough they are.

    John

  4. Alan says:

    Hallo Al,
    One of our Conwy BKA members is working the farm on Bardsey Island, Ynys Enlli, and he keeps bees there. He moved there with his young family three years ago. Bardsey is a windy place, but he gets good crops of honey, from the thrift flowers I think. He sells the honey to visitors at £3.20 for a 150g jar, much more than we can get for a jar on the mainland.
    You may have sea lavender in reach. They say it produces plenty of honey.
    Have a look at our website for info on beekeeping on Bardsey.
    Good luck.
    Peter McFadden
    http://www.conwybeekeepers.org.uk

  5. Alan says:

    Excellent, the BKA’s are normally very helpful so Im sure you are in good hands. Remember and ask how to get your hands on some local bees and even some second hand equipment. They may even help you install them.

    Had a look at your hive location pic. It looks fairly sheltered, remember to position it so the bees fly out and are forced up, this is best for a variety of reasons: 1. it gives the bees a good vantage point in which to spot forage and 2. it stops the bees flightpath being an area commonly used by humans and so less collisions will happen.

    Well Im glad you have found help and I have been of some.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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