If you are new to beekeeping and have just acquired all your beekeeping gear, setting up your first beehive is the next step in becoming a beekeeper.
And there are some essential considerations when assembling, locating, and populating your beehive,
This article will help you get started.
Setting Up A Beehive
To set up a beehive:
- Place the baseboard on a beehive stand.
- Place the deep super or brood chamber on top of the baseboard.
- Fit 10 deep frames in the deep super.
- The honey super or medium deep super with 10 honey frames fits on top of the brood chamber,
- This is followed by the inner and top lids.
Setting up a beehive is a part of beekeeping that newcomers enjoy most! Putting up your first hive and populating it with bees is a very satisfying accomplishment.
Still, some things need considering to help make the process successful.
Understanding bees, their behavior, and their life cycle will help you understand why certain things are important in a beehive setup.
Best Time To Setup A Beehive
Bee colonies are most active in the spring and summer seasons in most regions and generally downsize and become less productive during the winter.
Consequently, the best time of year to set up a beehive is in the early spring, once all chance of frost has disappeared and air temperatures are above 65°F or 18°C.
This will provide the correct temperatures for the new bees to forage and become active as the spring flowers blossom.
The best time of day to install bees in a new beehive is in the evening to allow them to settle into their new home in the dark night hours.
Choosing A Location For Your Beehive
Before you set up your beehive, you must find a location for your hive that is ideal for the bees and does not pose a public risk to people in the area.
Bees must maintain a specific temperature range in the hive to ensure survival. As a beekeeper, you can help your bees by positioning the hive to avoid severe temperature fluctuations.
The ideal position for a beehive is where the colony will get morning sunshine, shade during the day’s heat, and evening sunshine.
Placing the hive in the shade of a tree can provide these conditions, as can erecting a roof above the hive.
Ideally, the tree under which you locate the hive should be deciduous and lose its leaves in the winter so it can receive warmth from the winter sun.
The hive should also be protected from the prevailing winds, especially winter winds, which can drastically reduce the hive’s internal temperature, causing the bees to work harder to heat the beehive.
Your selected location must have sufficient access to water and forage so your bees can build their resources and make honey for you.
A hive stand is helpful to keep the beehive off the ground to reduce moisture, keep pests away, elevate the hive so it is easier to work on, and keep vegetation away from the hive entrance. The hive stand can be a custom stand, such as cinder blocks or a commercial beehive stand.
Locate the beehive away from pet, livestock, and human traffic to avoid the bees becoming a problem and stinging anything that comes near the hive. Many municipalities have bylaws that prescribe the distances from property lines and pathways where beehives may be positioned.
Assembling The Beehive
If you have bought a beehive in a flat-pack, you must assemble the components before you assemble the hive.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to build the hive before assembly. The large chamber is called the brood chamber or deep super, where the queen will live, lay eggs and produce new bees (the nest). Some worker bees will live in this area to attend to the queen and the larvae.
This brood box is typically deeper (taller) than the honey supers.
Place the baseboard on your hive stand and then position the brood chamber on the baseboard.
Next, hang 10 deep frames with a wax foundation in the brood chamber. This is where the bees will build their breeding comb.
A honey super typically rests on top of the brood chamber, and the bees will store honey in this structure. Most beekeepers put a queen excluder between the brood box and the honey super to prevent the queen from accessing the honey super and laying eggs in the honey storage comb.
Honey frames are not as deep as brood chamber frames. Hang 10 super frames with wax foundation in the honey super. Typically you need two supers for each beehive. (You will harvest honey from the top super and leave honey in the bottom one for the bees to consume).
An inner cover and a top cover will go on top of the final super in the stack to complete the assembly of the beehive.
It is only necessary to place the supers on the hive once the bees have been installed and settled in it for at least 3 to 4 weeks.
Installing Bees In The Beehive
Installing bees in the hive should be done on a warm, dry day, preferably in the late afternoon or evening.
You should wear your bee suit and gloves to install bees in the hive; the bees may be agitated after confinement in the transport box.
- Open the deep super, or brood chamber, and remove 3 frames from the center of the hive.
- Empty the bees into the center of the beehive, using your bee brush to brush as many as you can into the hive.
- Replace the removed frames from the hive, taking care not to squash any bees in the process!
- Position the queen’s cage between two frames in the center of the hive.
- Place an inner board with a feeding bottle on the top of the frames.
- Place a second, empty deep, super to protect the feeding bottle and prevent robbing from other bees.
- Fit the hive lid on top of the stack.
- Place an entrance reducer on the hive to limit the number of bees that can enter and exit the beehive and prevent the queen from leaving once she has been released from her cage.
- Leave the empty bee package near the hive entrance so that bees remaining in the packaging can find their way into the hive.
Do not disturb the hive for at least 3 to 5 days.
After that, you should check that the queen has been released from her cage.
Continue to feed the bees until they begin to forage, and you can see pollen being brought into the hive by the foraging bees.
At this stage, you can remove the feeding chamber and place a honey super on top of the brood chamber.
Setting up a beehive is relatively easy, but following the recommended procedure will help you optimize the chances for success with your first hive.
However, even after taking these precautions, bees are not guaranteed to stay in the beehive!
It’s all part of the risk of beekeeping 🙂
If you need help with how to set up your beehive correctly and install the bees, ask your local beekeeping association for some advice and assistance or a more experienced beekeeper in your area to guide you.