Updated: Mar 2
Lets first look at what things you have to take into consideration when setting up your home/back garden apiary:
A small home apiary implies that there is a dwelling house nearby with other people, children and domestic animals, if not on the same grounds then on a neighbouring property. The same or similar considerations also apply to an out apiary, and for that reason the following points require attention:
a) Stocks of bees must be sited so that the flight path of the bees avoid areas where there is likely to be any human or animal activity. Stocks can be sited so that the bees have to fly up over hedges or fences thereby getting the bees to a safe height above anyone on the ground. under normal circumstances this is absolutely fine and quite workable but aggressive bees must be considered. It is absolutely essential to have a 'Bolt Hole' prepared over 3 miles away so that a colony that has become over aggressive can be moved in an emergency. I consider that it is important that before you start to keep your own bees, you have first gained some experience of working with bees and a fantastic way of achieving this is to become a member of your local Bee Keeping Association or club. By doing so you will have built up a network of friends who's apiaries will serve as an emergency 'Bolt Hole'.
b) There must be plenty of space around each stock for colony manipulations and maintaining the site (eg. grass cutting). A distance of 6 feet between colonies would not be out of the way for setting up nucs and doing artificial between the adjacent stocks.
c) the layout of the colonies must be in an irregular in order to minimise drifting.
d) Hives should be provided with permanent bases to raise the floorboard of the ground to prevent damp and possible rot from starting to occur in the lower woodwork of the hive. Concrete bases are absolutely the best , but try a temporary solution until the site has been tried out for a couple of years.
e) The height of the top of the brood chamber, to minimise the amount of bending, is very important if large numbers of colonies are involved. Even six hives become a real pleasure to work if they are at the right height compared with being to low.
f) In a home apiary it is best to site the colonies out of sight of neighbours if this can be done.
g) Bees in the colonies at some point during your bee keeping career will swarm despite your best efforts to prevent this from happening. Shrubs and trees around your colonies are useful for swarms to hang on.
h) a certain amount of shade from nearby trees is useful particularly at mid-day during the summer.
i) colonies should not be sited under trees however, as rain drops can fall down onto the roofs of the hives and disturb the bees during the winter and cause them to break cluster.