f Best Position for a Native Beehive in Your Garden – The Stingless Bee Lady

Best Position for a Native Beehive in Your Garden

Understanding Native Bees and Their Habitat Preferences

Of the roughly 1700 species of native bees in Australia, only 11 of them are stingless bees. The remaining ~1690 are solitary bees. All of our native bees are excellent pollinators, but we do have some specialised pollinators such as the blue banded bee and teddy bear bees, who vibrate their bodies when pollinating specific flowers. Some flowers have evolved to require this specific vibrating method to pollinate and can't be pollinated by any other bees!
Our solitary bees come in a vast array of different sizes and colours, especially when compared to our native, stingless bees who are very tiny and all black. Our solitary bees also prefer amore isolated lifestyle when compared to the stingless bees who live in colonies of up to 10,000 bees. The solitary bees prefer to make their nests in tubular structures, such as the typical bamboo bee hotel. Although these bamboo bee hotels are very common, it's actually only a small amount of solitary bees that live in these structures. The vast majority (about 80%) of our solitary bees are actually ground dwelling, which means they make their nest by burrowing into the ground. This is why clay bee hotels will likely help the bees more and you'll get more occupants, compared to the bamboo bee hotels. 

On this note, it's best to make your own solitary bee hotel than buying one from a big store, as the big store's bee hotels are often not suitable for solitary bees and you likely won't have many occupants. The ABC's Gardening Australia has an excellent clip on how to make the different bee hotels, which you can watch here.

Our stingless bees prefer to live in a colony of thousands of bees, usually in a log, tree or man-made bee box. If their hive is moveable, they prefer to be located in the morning sun, usually until 10-11am, and then in shade or partial shade, for the rest of the day. The thickness of a bee box is also crucial and we recommend at least a 35mm thick timber. We sell gorgeous, handmade bee boxes out of 35mm cypress. You can see how special they are here

Stingless Bees In our Gardens

Stingless bees are a favourite in the garden because they are amazing pollinators and so enjoyable to watch. Their hives have a hierarchy, including a Queen, workers and drones (males). The Queen is the head of the hierarchy, BUT if she's slowing down or starting to slip, the worker bees band together to remove her... gulp! They will wait for a Princess (unmated Queen) to hatch, murder the Queen and set the Princess up as the new Queen! 

The drones, or male stingless bees, have one main job and that's to mate with a Princess bee. The problem is... a Queen can live for 3-5 years and drones and workers live for about 3 months. That's a lot of drones who will die without completing their life's mission. 

Stingless bees also make honey, the rarest honey in the world as a strong hive will make only make about 1L of excess honey a year. It is so unique, healing and rare that it sells for $200/L. For more information about stingless bee honey, check out our page on stingless bee honey by clicking here

Stingless bees are excellent for our gardens because they're the best pollinators. They will help pollinate your fruit and veggie flowers, so you have a high crop yield, ie lots of fruit and veggies. It is also such a special feeling when you spot a little bee on your flowers.

Where Should A Native Beehive Be Placed In A Garden

Choosing the best position for a native beehive in your garden can make a huge difference for the health and productivity of your bees. You need to consider a spot that protects the hive from extreme weather while still providing enough sunlight. The ideal location receives early morning sun (preferably sun until 10-11am) to warm up the bees and then some shade for the rest of the day, to prevent overheating. If your hive isn't getting enough sun or it's getting too much sun, you can move the hive. There are two options of moving a hive; the first is to move it a maximum of 1m each day, the second is to move it 1km away for 3 weeks and then back home to it's new spot. 

Stingless bee hives are surprisingly small. The standard OATH design hives are 20cm wide x 28cm deep x ~40cm high. Given their size, it's easy to mount them on vertical or wall mounted stands. It doesn't really matter which direction the hive entrance is facing, but ensure its not in a windy area as the little bees can be blown away easily. 

If your hive will be out in nature, and exposed to the weather, its crucial to the longevity of you hive that it has a good quality roof, which protects the sides of the hive and directs rain away from the hive. You can also place your hive under the eaves of your house, or build a small structure for it to sit under so that it's protected from the weather. In this case, you won't need a roof. 




Factors Influencing Beehive Placement

When placing a native beehive in your garden, several factors are essential to ensure the health and productivity of the bees. These include sunlight exposure, protection from weather, ease of access and proximity to foraging resources.

Sunlight and Temperature Regulation

Bees thrive in a warm environment. Positioning your hive to receive morning sunlight helps to wake up the bees and get them active early in the day. Sun untill 10-11a, is perfect.

It is also important to provide afternoon shade. This can prevent the hive from overheating, which can kill the bees.

Protection from Wind and Rain

Your beehive should be sheltered from strong winds and heavy rains. Gusty winds can make it hard for bees to fly and navigate, while heavy rain can damage the hive.

Choose a location where the breeze isn't too strong, as the little bees will find it hard to fly to and from the hive. Ensure the hive has a good quality roof, as described above to increase the longevity of the hive.

Accessibility and Safety

Place your hive in a spot that is easy for you to access for maintenance and harvesting and choose a location that minimises disturbances.

Foraging Range and Flower Proximity

Plant variety is important. Having a range of flower shapes and sizes helps attract different bee species, especially plants which flower in winter whenthere are less flowers about.

Grouping flowers can make it easier for bees to find pollen. Consider planting in clusters or drifts rather than scattering individual plants. This layout helps native bees locate your garden more efficiently.

We've made a handy list of bee loving flowers:

Choosing a location with abundant foraging options ensures that bees have ample resources throughout the year. Remember bees will forage and can travel around 500m from the hive, so they will be busy in your neighbours gardens and even in the tree tops searching for flowers
We also sell a mix of easy to grow bee flowers that we know your bees will love!! 


Seasonal Considerations for Beehive Positioning

To maintain a healthy beehive, you must adjust its position according to the season. This section looks at keeping your hive cool in summer, warm in winter, and balanced during transitional months.

Summer Strategies

In summer, heat can be a significant issue. Bees are sensitive to extreme temperatures. You should place the hive in a location with morning sun and afternoon shade. This will help the bees start their day early and keep the hive cool in the peak afternoon heat.

Using a shelter or a crate can provide extra shade. Additionally, ensure there is a nearby water source as bees need water for cooling. Placing the hive on a raised platform, such as a paver, helps avoid dampness and pests.

Winter Approaches

During winter, keeping the bees warm is crucial. Your bees need maximum sunlight exposure. Choose a spot that gets sunlight throughout the day to maintain warmth. Avoid placing the hive in high wind areas; such conditions can cool the hive and harm the bees.

You may consider insulating the hive or using a protective cover to reduce wind exposure. We have macrame bee ladders that the bees will use and it can give some extra help getting in and out of the hive in cooler weather.

Positioning under a deck or verandah can shield the hive from cold winds, while still letting in sunlight.


Optimising Beehive Position for Garden Health

Placing your native beehive in the right spot is crucial for maintaining a happy hive.  Finding a the right sunny spot will help your bees stay active throughout the day.

Key Tips for Positioning Your Beehive:

  • Entrance Direction: Face the entrance southeast to capture morning sunlight.
  • Surroundings: Avoid busy areas such as footpaths, driveways, or near doors.
  • Elevation: Place the hive on a stand to keep it off damp ground.

Ideal Locations:

  • A shaded nook in your garden.
  • Under a verandah or on your deck.
  • Inside a crate shelter to protect from harsh weather.

By following these guidelines, you can create a thriving environment for your native bees and support garden health. Your bees can then actively pollinate plants and contribute to a flourishing garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

When setting up a native beehive in your garden, it's important to consider the location, orientation, materials, and maintenance practices to ensure a healthy environment for the bees.

What factors should be considered when locating a beehive in a garden?

Choose a spot that gets early morning sun to help bees get active. Avoid areas with full, direct sunlight during hot afternoons to prevent overheating. Protection from strong winds and heavy rainfall is also important.

What is the ideal orientation for a beehive to increase bee activity?

The hive should face the morning sun. This helps warm up the hive early, which can boost bee activity. Also, ensure the entrance is not blocked by plants or structures.

How can one encourage Stingless bees to establish in a hive?

Getting bees to set up in a hive by themselves..USUALLY will not work.
How native bee keepers establish a new hive is through eduction.
This is basically connecting two hives together and hoping a princess bee will see a chance to set up her own colony.
We sell Eduction education pamphlets - this has been our tested and tried way with great success rates over the past 10 years.
Using bee propolis and our bee attracting spray will help a princess bee find her way to set up a new home

What are the benefits and drawbacks of installing a bee hotel in one's garden?

Bee hotels provide shelter for solitary bees and can increase pollination. However, they need regular cleaning to prevent pests and disease. It's crucial to monitor and maintain them properly.

Which materials are recommended for constructing a bee hotel suited to Australian native bees?

Use natural, untreated wood. Hollow stems or bamboo can also work well. Make sure the materials are durable and provide various hole sizes to suit different bee species.

What practices are essential for maintaining a healthy environment for native bees in one's backyard?

Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Plant a variety of native plants that flower at different times. Clean and monitor any bee hotels regularly. Provide water sources and maintain a natural, pesticide-free environment.