5 Steps to setting up an apiary

There’s a lot of hobbies in life that can be quite overwhelming; things like cattle farming, having a baby, finding yourself up the creek without a paddle, and yes even beekeeping.

Fear not! Here are 5 easy steps for you to consider in order to create your very own Apiary!

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beekeeper's apiary
This is my second apiary location. It’s high on a hill, in direct sunlight most of the day and protected by a solar-powered bear fence. Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

5 Steps to create your own Apiary

Step #1- Real Estate

Locating the ideal spot for your beehives should be fun. Don’t let your limits dissuade you, use them to find the solution.

Here are some things to consider when choosing the best spot but keep in mind, most beekeepers don’t even have all of these elements going on at the same time.

Choose the best ones you’re able to do and make the best of it.

First Element- Distance

Locate your hives away from the main areas of foot traffic. So if you were considering somewhere by the front door or the mailbox, sorry!

This should be anywhere away from the front and back doors, the garage, your neighbors property line, etc.

When it comes to beekeeping, the best location is “out of sight, out of mind,” unless you have plenty of private property.

The main idea is to keep your traffic areas and the bees’ traffic areas far apart.

Second Element- Shade vs. sunlight

Ideally, bees should have sun in the morning and shade in the hot afternoon. This isn’t always possible. Given the option however, choose more light over more shade.

Too much shade can lead to moisture issues and Small Hive Beetle love humid environments.

Third Element- Accessibility

Your hive needs to be easy to get to on foot and possibly by vehicle, should you ever need to relocate it.

Fourth Element- Geographical & Climactic conditions

Depending on your specific location, you may need to take special considerations in mind.

For example: I live in a flood zone. Therefore I have placed my apiary on one of the highest areas of my property AND put them on hive stands that are built up off of the ground.


Step #2- Insurance

Do bears live in your area? They live in mine. And although I’ve never seen one, I put a solar-powered bear fence around my bees to insure that I never wake up one morning to a disaster.

Your can learn more about how to prepare for this contingency here. If you’re on a budget, here’s another great idea for protecting your apiary from bear attack.

Another consideration to insure yourself as a beekeeper is to post signs in, at and near your apiary to warn others that your bees are hard at work and that it’s best to NOT disturb them.

warning sign for beekeeper's apiary
Here’s just one of my warning signs. It’s located at the property line, a hundred yards from my apiary. Jonathan Hargus©

Bees have stingers. The last thing you want is for your neighbor to complain about your bees to you or the law because their children are ‘deathly allergic.’

You can learn more about how to cover yourself here.


Step #3- Proper attire

So you’re going to need to protect yourself from getting stung. And just a heads up: no matter how much gear you put on, you are now a beekeeper and getting stung is inevitable.

But that’s okay! Just cry about it and get back to work when no one’s watching.

You’re going to need the following:

  1. Either a full-body suit OR a jacket + veil combo.
  2. Gloves.
  3. Pants with footwear that will prevent bees from crawling up your pants leg into areas they do not belong.
beekeeper in suit
This is a fencing style veil. I hate it. It’s always blocking my peripheral view. Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

Learn more about choosing the right style veil here.

Learn more about choosing the best beekeeping gloves here.

And finally, here are some protective gear recommendations. This page is a work in progress, as I am always adding to it.


Step #4- Tools of the trade

Tools are fun! And choosing the right tools for you is a very important step.

Depending on the style of beehive you choose will determine the tools you need and do not need.

But here are the basics that you’ll need no matter what:

  1. A hive tool. Hive tools vary considerably from one another but in essence they are used for prying and manipulating frames and top bars.
  2. Smoker. Get a smoker! These are your best friend out in the apiary and you do not want to find yourself out there without it.
  3. Bee brush. A soft bee brush comes in handy when you need to gently brush bees off of frames, either transferring honey or brood from one hive to another or when harvesting honey.

Hive tools. If you’re going with a Langstroth style hive, this is the hive tool that I recommend because it gives you prying leverage.

Go ahead and get the two-pack, you’ll thank yourself later when you cannot find one of your hive tools. Being a beekeeper means you will lose stuff.

If you’re going with a Top Bar Hive, this here is the tool you will want. It is designed specifically for detaching the comb from the inside of the hive body. I highly recommend this.

When it comes to smokers, it’s hit or miss. Buy a cheap one and you’ll curse yourself when you cannot keep it lit when you need it most. I recommend not skimping here, get yourself a quality smoker.

I will post my recommendation below but you can learn more here about choosing a good smoker here.


Step #5- Choose your hive style

I saved this one for last because it’s the most fun in my opinion. When it comes to hive styles, most people do not realize that there is a hive style for your goals.

What do you want from your bees? Do you want to harvest honey or not? Or perhaps you simply want to have pollination for your garden and help the little buggers because of all the crap they’re going through.

There are three major styles used here in the States. There are pros & cons to each. I’ll list them here and then refer you to something I created to help you figure out the best one for you.

  1. Langstroth style
  2. Warre style
  3. Top Bar Hive style

Learn about: The Three styles of beehives: which one fits your needs?

I have experience with each of these styles and I’ll tell you, I have personally chosen to convert my operation from Langstroth style over to the Top Bar style hive.

warre style beehive
Here’s a top bar, work-in-progress from my Warre hive. Photo by Jonathan Hargus©

My reason? Because Top Bar hives are more bee-friendly and Langstroth styles tend to be less so. Learn more about bee-friendly methods here for top notch beekeeping.

The 7 Methods of Minimal Disturbance.


Beekeeping can easily be overwhelming and that’s okay. Just take it one step at a time and before you know it, you’ll be housing your first bees into your new equipment!

If you have any questions at all about anything mentioned here today then by all means, please leave a comment below.

Until next time remember,

~Weeds are Wildflowers, let them Bee!~

Jonathan Hargus/Apicentric beekeeper

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