Hives on the Roof - Rookie Mistake

Hello all,

When i first started beekeeping a few months ago, i decided i would get a good understanding of correct and appropriate practices in beekeeping, so i joined the beekeeping course run by Eric from Better Bee Hives. It was an excellent course providing the fundamentals to get any amateur/new beekeeper off on the right foot. One of the big ‘no-no’s’ outlined by Eric when discussing hive placement, was to NEVER place your hives on the roof…i now understand why.

Prior to commencing the course, i had already placed x2 hives up on the carport roof, thinking what an ideal location for them - up high for us to be out of their flight path, getting the first morning light & utilising otherwise ‘dead’ space on our block. Nevertheless, when mentioned that the roof was a bad idea, i brushed the thought aside and kept going with my rooftop beekeeping enterprise. However, as time went on, it became more and more evident why this was an absolute terrible location!

Here are some of the reasons why this location became a BAD idea…

*As the hives expanded and grew, so did their stores, and so another box was added to both hives increasing the overall weight (8 frame & 10 frame hive). This weight, and the weight of myself and equipment when inspecting the hives was probably up around 170kgs…you could feel the carport moving under the load. Not ideal!

*Wind - With a few cool night time breezes and very windy days recently, i noticed the bees having a few issues copping prevailing winds straight through their hives entrances. This possibly would stress them and affect their productivity. Secondly, the wind made it difficult to conduct hive inspections. On numerous occasions, i would open up the hives under ideal, still conditions and half way through an inspection the wind would pick up and typically i would have to abort the inspection. The smallest breeze was amplified by how exposed you (and the hives) are up on the roof.

  • Conducting inspections up on the roof became a pain in the neck…carting up and down a ladder; smokers, frames, boxes, etc. became quite the chore. Not to mention the amount of extra time this added onto an inspection.

I decided enough was enough and locked in a weekend in which i would move the hives. This became quite the engineering project to ensure it was both safe for me and the bees. The structural integrity of the carport was in question so props were hired to provide further structural rigidity as i was concerned that shifting the weight up there would potentially cause the roof to collapse. Secondly, there was absolutely no way in which i would be able to carry the hives down a ladder, so a materials lift was hired to lower them off the roof. All up an added cost of $170-

All in all, the hive relocation was successful and i now have them down on solid ground. I wanted to write this post to outline to other new beekeepers the importance of hive location and thinking it through. I unfortunately, I did not and therefore it cost me in the long-run, both in time, my sanity and money. A big sorry to Eric for not taking his word in the course that rooftops are terrible locations for bees… I have learnt my lesson.

I have attached some photos to show you the trouble i had to go to to get the hives off the roof.

1 Like

Hi Andrew, I do agree, Eric from Better Bee Hives runs excellent training courses and generously shares his knowledge with bee-ginner Beekeepers. Humans make mistake, I have had my share of it. On the funny side, when a bee may weigh (i guess) one gram or less and then we need a lift to carry them, the bee colony might have had a good laugh at us, humans. Cheers, Agi