The Blount County Beekeepers Association, in a variety of ways, encourages people to get interested in beekeeping and, if possible, set up hives.

We concentrate a lot on the how and why of setting up a hive, but we don’t talk enough about the where. Locating a hive in the right place can make a big difference to the long-term life of the colony.

Locating a hive is one of the most important decisions a beekeeper will make.

Locating a hive is one of the most important decisions a beekeeper will make.

Most people believe — and some research has shown — that the best place for a hive is in full sun, not in the shade. Hives can survive in the shade, of course, but full sun has been associated with a lower Varroa mite population. So if you have a choice, choose full sun.

More importantly, hives should be close to a lot of sources of nectar and pollen, so the bees can have plenty to eat.

We beekeepers like to brag that bees can fly up to fives miles from the hive to forage for their food. But if your bees are flying that far, their hives are in the wrong place.

Try to put the hives close to where there is plenty of clover, flowering vegetables, corn (they get pollen from the tops of corn plants), wild flowers and other vegetation that the bees can use. The shorter distance the foragers have to fly, the more trips they can take between the sources of food and the hive. Also, there is less chance that they will be killed by predators or that they will come into contact with bees from other hives (and thus become contaminated with another hive’s problems).

Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota and one of the leading honeybee experts in the country has written:

The most essential beekeeping practice is to make sure all colonies have large pollen and nectar stores at all times.

So, be a good beekeeper and put your bees in a good place.