Within a hive there are three types of bees. The queen, drones, and worker bees. There is only one queen in a hive, is female, and lays eggs to produce more bees. About 15% of the hive population are drone bees which are male and their only job is to mate with a different queen. Finally about 85% of the bees are female worker bees and they do all of the work around the hive. They take care of the brood, clean and defend the hive, and gather pollen and nectar.
There are numerous factors to consider when determining where to place your hive(s) which include they physical location, bee needs, and human needs. A good starting point is to do an internet search to determine if your local community has set guidelines for maintaining hives. Allouez Wisconsin, for one, has a number of rules to be followed.
- South facing is optimal – early morning wake-up to start foraging
- Shade in the PM – so the hive doesn’t overheat in summer
- Access to water – needed to make honey
- Good air ventilation – so the hive doesn’t get damp
- Wind block – can be man-made or natural to help hive survive the winter
- No obstruction in front of hive – bees like to exit and fly up
- Slight lean to the front – so rainwater can drain out
- Pollen and Nectar Sources – for honey production
- Level side to side – bees don’t care but could hurt honey production
- Accessible by vehicle or cart – honey and equipment are heavy
- Permission – check local ordinances and neighbors
- Accessible from the back of hive – best to work from the back of hive
- Weeds and Mowing – keep the hive weed free and trimmed
The following video discusses the most basic bee equipment that a first time beekeeper will need. You will learn about different personal protection gear, gloves, hive tools, bee brushes and smokers.