End of the line effect... During my beekeeping career I have
kept hives in various arrangements, due to the lie of the land, the
shape of the plot or my ideas at the time. The end of the line effect
is often quoted in beekeeping books as being an undesirable
situation. I am no longer sure that it is very important, but in cases
where there is a wind that prevails from a particular direction, you
will observe that the most downwind colony has the most bees and the
next two or three will have more than the others with the opposite end
of the line being the most depleted.
Nuc Roof Patterns
Drifting Behaviour in honey bees
Drifting over featureless water is another classic scenario
that comes up in beekeeping books time and again.
Patterns of placement... I started my beekeeping with hives
in long rows with the entrances facing the sun. The rows were not
exactly straight nor was the spacing regular. This was an attempt to
reduce drifting. The bee stocks concerned were mainly Italianised
The same mixed gene stocks have also been used two to a
pallet and four to a pallet. In the latter case each hive faced a
different point of the compass. The twin hive pallets had some facing
east/west, some were north/south, some had both facing south and yet
others were SW/SE.
More recently and with stock that is largely AMM, I face the
hives outwards from my working position without any regard for compass
I had a friend (now deceased), that had a great many
apiaries, his method was to place 40 hives in a circle, with entrances
facing outwards, and about one hive width between them. His stocks
were locally naturalised AMM.
Neither he nor I ever noticed any difference in the activity
or honey gathering power of any colony that could correlate with
direction... Yes, there were variations in crop, but the south facing
ones were no better than the rest. I do not recall any variations that
were due to prevailing wind direction.
Mating Nucs on a fence... I have a paddock that is fenced in
a post and rail fashion, with the vertical posts about 8 feet
(2.5 m) apart. I have mating nucs at the same height on every
post along two edges of the paddock. The nucs are similar to each
other, but each has a distinctly different roof.
I made each of the mating nuc roofs to a different shape
with three dimensional patterned blocks of various geometric shapes.
The roofs are painted as well, but the only two colours used are
black and white. The roof shape is painted in white and the applied
blocks are painted black.
There is an inverse to drifting and that is the bees ability
to find the hive after the beekeeper has moved or disturbed it. I
believe that some strains or races of bee have a strong affinity for
their own colony and will investigate other colonies in an attempt to
find their particular 'home'. Some other strains will jump into the
first colony that they come across. This may have implications in the
spreading of diseases.
Originated... 20 Aug 2002
Revised... dd month 2002