June 21, 2024

Siting an out-apiary – Good Practice

To set up an out-apiary (i.e. not at home), we have to consider several factors. Many beekeepers have out-apiaries, as often it is not possible to keep bees in an urban environment, or because they need extra sites.

Here are some considerations when choosing a site:

  • To prevent the public from being stung an apiary should not be close to footpaths or nearby to built up areas. Vandalism or theft can be a problem if hives are visible to the public.
  • Vehicle access to the site is vital outside of the winter months. Honey is heavy to carry, and so vehicle access as close as possible to the hives is important.
  • No livestock must have access to the site.  Do not place hives too close to horses as bees do not like their smell. If a horse with a rider is stung, there is the potential for injury.
  • Winter winds are sometimes cold so provide as much shelter as possible. Clearings in a spinney, copse etc. are ideal as they provide a windbreak.
  • There needs to be enough forage during the active season for the number of colonies in the apiary.  A large expanse of wheat is a desert for bees.
  • More than one site is sometimes needed for certain types of beekeeping activities, e.g. queen rearing, quarantine of swarms etc.
  • Investigate if other beekeepers have hives nearby. A colony with disease can easily infect other hives if they are too close.  Too many hives in a small area can be counterproductive as there will not enough available forage.  Around eight hives may be a maximum for a permanent out-apiary, depending on situation.
  • A source of water is needed at times, especially in hot summers when hives are in full sun. Bees may also need water in spring to liquefy crystallised stores.
  • Some beekeepers have a warning sign with appropriate text outside the apiary.


Version 1            January 2017                                          Owner – Executive Committee