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Spacing Between Hives

 
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bobdurivage
New Bee


Joined: 15 Jul 2017
Posts: 4
Location: Western North Carolina,usa

PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:22 am    Post subject: Spacing Between Hives Reply with quote

What is the minimum recommended spacing between hives?
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi and welcome to the forum.

I have no idea if there is a recommended spacing. I would suggest that enough room to work between them is the best guide.
It can be helpful to change the angle of approach to the hives ie entrance pointing in slightly different directions, particularly if they are all a uniform design, to prevent drift of bees from one hive to another, or some people pin or paint coloured symbols to the front to help the bees to identify their home from the other hives, a bit like house numbers on front doors.
It is a good idea not to have too many in one apiary, so that there is plenty of local forage for them all to thrive.

Regards

Barbara
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trekmate
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Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd like to add (bearing in mind "Natural Beekeeping") that Tom Seeley says that wild colonies are rarely closer than 100 yards apart.

For most of us that is unachievable, but I try to limit hives to two in each location (I have six in one apiary! Shocked ). Separation is maximised i.e. entrances at least five feet apart with varying directions.

EDIT: Availability of forage throughout the season is the limiting factor which would have to be a "local" decision.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
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Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'd like to add (bearing in mind "Natural Beekeeping") that Tom Seeley says that wild colonies are rarely closer than 100 yards apart.


That said, it is not overly unusual for there to be more than one colony occupy chimney stacks in the same building and I read of multiple colonies being cut out of the same "trailer" in parts of the USA. Tom Seeley's work was done in a forest where, I would imagine, there will be a limited number of hollow trees available as nesting sites. Most feral colonies have to make do with whatever cavity they can find and if there is a good site that can accommodate more than one colony with separate entrances, they will happily do so.

Since the majority of my hives are different sizes, shapes, designs and colours and all aligned differently, there is little chance of confusion and drift, which I think can be the only real benefit in spacing them further apart. Drones travel from hive to hive regardless of the distance, so reducing spread of disease probably doesn't come into it.
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
That said, it is not overly unusual for there to be more than one colony occupy chimney stacks in the same building and I read of multiple colonies being cut out of the same "trailer" in parts of the USA.

...and I frequently have swarms move into bait hives that are within 30 feet of another colony. A swarm is looking for the best cavity it can find, and yes, with limited availability they will settle somewhere closer than their "usual" distance. But is that distance determined by availability or their preference? I don't know and I'm guessing no-one will! I tend to err on the side of caution in most things... Rolling Eyes
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
A swarm is looking for the best cavity it can find, and yes, with limited availability they will settle somewhere closer than their "usual" distance. But is that distance determined by availability or their preference?


Yes, I thought that as I was typing, but clicked the submit button anyway. It's a chicken and egg conundrum but probably more complicated.
There are so many parameters that that bees take into consideration when choosing a new home, some of them we may still not be aware of.
I had two prime swarms this year move directly into adjacent, recently deceased hives, literally within 10 feet of the parent hive and in good weather and forage conditions that would have allowed them to travel further afield. Both were full of old comb though which I know is a big incentive. I wonder if the bees are able to sense if the previous colony was diseased, or just suffered queen failure.... which is what happened with these two.
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