There is a real advantage to locating your beeyard close to the house. While I know that sometimes beekeepers need to have their hives in the back 40 or another remote location – kids, pets, neighbors, want them out of sight from thieves or vandals, etc. – there are real advantages to keeping the hives close at hand. I know from personal experience (I used to have an out-yard located several miles away) and I’ve seen it while visiting other beekeepers, if a beekeeper has to gather up beekeeping equipment, load a vehicle and drive to the apiary, the hives will not be checked on as often as they would if they are 100 feet away from the house.
Beekeepers with large numbers of hives have no choice in using out-yards since 15-20 hives is typically the most for one location. But for those of us with less than that number of hives, having them close can be a real advantage. If you are feeding hives or nucs, we have may have a 5-10 minute task if the hives are close, a half hour task if a drive is required. If you wish to watch out for robbing (a real potential problem this time of year) it is nice to take a look each day or as often as possible.
My hives are located near my driveway, which I walk each morning to pick up my daily newspaper, so it is possible for me to take a quick glance each morning. This past swarm season I tried to make a habit of visiting the apiary once or twice each day to check for swarms. This paid off in more swarms captured at home this year.
This week I had an experience that prompted this post and reminded me of why we need to keep an eye on our hives. I was out of town for almost a week recently and below is what I found when I returned.
One of my hives had a hive body and a honey super blown off in a recent thunderstorm and it laid there for several days before I discovered it upon returning. This was almost unavoidable since I was away from home. I say almost, because I could have asked my son or a neighboring beekeeper friend to keep watch on my hives while I was gone, you bet I will next time I leave home for more than a couple of days.