Even the largest beehive will measure about two feet square and that is all that is needed for each hive, but don't forget to add a little space to stand along side it to work the colony. You might like your honeybees but it is unlikely that your neighbour will display the same enthusiasm. Bees have no need to disturb others, whether human or animals, it is just a case of ensuring that their flight paths to and from the hive do not coincide with neighbours working in their gardens. Hives standing in full sun should be avoided, try to provide some midday shade. Some say that entrances should face south-east to catch the early morning sun. The best layout is to have a hive facing each of the four cardinal points of the compass-one facing north, one facing south etc. This does help to prevent bees drifting from their own hive into another. Some beekeepers have an out-apiary away from their home and your local Association will have a demonstration apiary for the members to use.
How much time do I need to devote to the bees?
We usually regard the period from October to March as the 'off-season' so far as opening up hives, lifting out frames and manipulations generally are concerned, but a limited inspection on a mild day in March can be justified on the grounds that we can only help our bees if we know what help they need. Just three questions have to be answered at this time of year.
1.Have they a laying queen? In some cases the answer may be obvious; for example if the bees are flying freely around midday and taking in massive loads of pollen, then all is well with the queen.
2.Have they enough food? If the hive still feels really heavy when hefted, they have enough food. Possibly about 1 hive in 3 will either feel light, or show little flying activity with not much pollen going in, and in these cases some action is required.
3.What is the natural varroa mite mortality per day? If this figure exceeds seven mites per day then control is necessary using one of the approved treatments. Check the updated F.I.B.K.A. policy on varroa for details. You have to continue with your colony inspections right through the Summer. So the time you need to devote to your bees could be as little as 15 minutes per hive every 10-14 days during the season from April to September. Usually the problem is that new beekeepers are unable to leave the bees alone for the first season".
For more advice from FIBKA vist their website.