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How Many Hives Per Apiary? (A Comprehensive Guide)





How Many Hives Per Apiary For Commercial Beekeeping

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Before starting an apiary one of the major concerns is how many hives per apiary to kick off. It is a key consideration for commercial beekeeping.

That’s what I am going to discuss in this post. As the number of beehives per apiary depends on so many factors, I will discuss them one by one.




Why Is It Important To Choose The Right Number Of Hives Per Apiary?

Choosing the right number of hives per apiary is really crucial. Using the maximum possible number of hives per apiary will increase profit margins. Also, using excessive amounts of hives per apiary can be harmful too.

If you are doing beekeeping just as your time, then you might need not to work with a large number of hives. In the case of commercial beekeeping where the aim is to make money by keeping bees, choosing the right number of hives per apiary is really crucial.

The use of an excess number of hives per apiary may cause food shortage for bees. Also, there might be a large competition for flying and collecting nectar. As a result, bees might become aggressive.

Also, there are a lot of advantages to having multiple beehives in an apiary. So, we should select the appropriate number of hives for each apiary.




How Many Hives Per Apiary For Beekeeping

If you are just getting started you can go with 1 to 2 beehives per apiary. With your experience and considering the environmental and other factors, you can increase the number up to 35 beehives per apiary.

How Many Hives Per Apiary
Credit: Evie Straumfjord Petersen


If you are just a beginner, it is always recommended to start with a single beehive. Select the right type of honey bees for your beekeeping. After getting your first nuc transfer it into a beehive, and start your apiary.

With time you will be able to learn about your bee’s behaviors and how to deal with them. So, you can gradually increase the number of hives in your apiary.



Factors That Influence No. Of Hives Per Apiary

There are several factors on which number of hives per apiary depends. The major factors are as below.

  1. Geographic Location: It is a vital factor to consider. Because in different geographic locations beekeepers like to use different amounts of hives per apiary. If you are in an area where a lot of flowering plants are available, and during winter the atmosphere is not very cold, you can go with up to 30 hives. For more colder regions the number will be decreased. There are other environmental factors to consider like variation in temperature, humidity, foraging season duration, etc.
  2. Modern Beekeeping Tool Availability: If you have access to modern beekeeping tools for hive monitoring, and honey extraction, you can have a large no. of hives per apiary. If you don’t have advanced tools then it is better to keep the number limited.
  3. Human Resources: Obviously if there is more human for taking care of bees, no. of beehives can be larger per apiary.
  4. Availability Of Food Sources: If there are large no. of pollinating plants available, no. of beehives can be larger.
  5. Availability Of Space: If you have a small space available for beehives, you can’t keep a large number of beehives in that small space. It is always suggested to keep 2 to 6 apiary per acre of land.
  6. Type Of Bees: Different types of honey bees require different types of care. Also, different species of bees show different aggressiveness and other behaviors. So, you should consider what type of bees you are thinking of keeping.
  7. Beekeeper’s Goal: No. of hives per apiary also varies depending on the beekeeper’s goal. If you are doing this for a full-time income, you may go with a comparatively large number of hives up to 30. For passionate beekeepers, it is suggested to keep the hives up to 10 for better maintenance.
  8. Capital: Obviously if you don’t have enough money you can’t expect an excess amount of hives. Because extra hives also require more maintenance costs.
  9. Intensity Of Mites and Disease: You should consider varroa mites and other diseases of bees in your region. You can contact your local beekeepers to get an idea about bee diseases. If there are fewer mites and disease infections you can go for a large no. of hives.
  10. Local Rules And Laws: In some countries, there might be a law regarding the maximum no. of beehives per apiary to keep. So, if your country has the same type of rules or laws, make sure to follow them.


Factors That Influences How Many Apiary Per Hive


You should also consider what type of apiary you have. There are basically people in Asia and America usage 3 types of apiary.

  1. Mobile Apiary.
  2. Backyard Apiary.
  3. Apiary In Crops Field.

Different types of apiary also have different no. of hives limitation per apiary. Let’s get things more clear.



How Many Hives Per Apiary For Mobile Apiary

Some people like to build an apiary in a motor van well known as a mobile apiary. This type of apiary doesn’t stay in the same place for long. It is always suggested to keep up to 10 beehives per apiary.

Mobile Apiary
A Mobile Apiary


This number also varies depending on the space you have for your apiary. Make sure to keep at least 8 Inches of gap in all directions for 2 consecutive beehives.

The beehives number per mobile apiary usually keeps between 6 to 10 hives. This is to reduce the competition for foraging among bees. Also, this apiary is not permanent.

Depending on the crops available, the apiary needs to emerge to a new location. This is why for safe transportation no. of apiary per mobile apiary is kept limited.



How Many Hives Per Apiary For Backyard Beekeeping

It is suggested to have up to 15 hives per apiary for backyard beekeeping. If you have a larger space and enough foraging plants, you can increase the number by up to 20.

Backyard Apiary
Backyard Apiary


Remember if you increase the number of hives, they will require more food sources and maintenance. Make sure to provide them necessary foods when there are less amount of flowers available.

If you don’t have enough manpower for beekeeping it is always suggested to keep the hive number smaller. You can generate a good amount of profits from a small number of hives if you can use them properly.



How Many Hives Per Apiary For Beekeeping In The Field

For apiary in the crop field number of hives per apiary can be 30 to 40. The number depends on the availability of foraging crops over the year. Also, the availability of enough space.

Apiary In The Crops Field
Crops Field Apiary


Usually, apiary in the crop fields, require less amount of maintenance. Because bees have enough food sources close to their hives. So, you can go with more number of hives per apiary than a backyard apiary.




Comprehensive Guide To Determine No. Of Hive Per Apiary For Commercial Beekeeping

I have already told you that you can keep up to 40 beehives per apiary. It doesn’t mean you will go with this number. Obviously not!

I have already discussed the factors that you must consider before starting your apiary. Then you can make your own plan for determining no. of hiver per apiary.

For commercial beekeeping, it is our goal is to make maximum profit from our apiary. So, you can determine the maximum no. of hives you can keep per apiary by following a few simple steps.

Guide To Determine How Many Hives Per Hive


  • Determine The No. Of Beekeepers: If you are going to start your beekeeping business alone then don’t go with more than 2 hives per apiary. You can increase the no. up to 10 hives per apiary if you are expert enough. But if you have your partner helping you to keep bees, you can double the number of hives. It is simple more people in your group the more hives you can keep.
  • Consider The Type Of Apiary You Are Going To Start: If you have a temporary apiary plan like placing your apiary in a crop field, you can go with up to 30 beehives. But for a temporary apiary like a mobile apiary, you need to travel to many locations. So, keep up to 10 hives per apiary.
  •  Foraging Plants Availability: You have enough land for your apiary but limited foraging plants. Then bees won’t like to stay if there is high competition for foraging and collecting pollen.  That’s why first think about the availability of foraging plants all over the year in your region.


These steps are vital for determining no. of hives per apiary. For my case, I like to keep 8 to 10 Langstroth hives per apiary. Because in my region there is a lack of crops during winter.

Though I provide them with enough sugar syrup and water, still they won’t be happy if there is more competition. Also, as I keep Asian honey bees, they become very aggressive during fall. That’s why I do not keep more than 10 beehives per apiary.

Currently, I have 20 beehives in my 2 separate apiary. This number definitely can vary depending on your situation and the availability of resources for beekeeping.

But my recommendation is not to keep more than 25 beehives per apiary.




What To Do After Selecting No. Of Hives Per Apiary

Having multiple hives definitely requires extra work. The more hives per apiary you have the more effort you have to give. However for the success of your commercial beekeeping, after selecting the number of apiary per hive you should maintain the following things.

  • If you have multiple members in your commercial beekeeping group, don’t assign more than one apiary to each person.
  • Make sure to properly winterize your hive before the winter.
  • Must provide multiple water sources depending on different numbers of apiary.
  • Make sure to split your overcrowded hive when necessary.
  • Don’t overperform hive inspection.
  • Always select the right time for a hive inspection.
  • Make sure to provide them with enough food.
  • Lastly, cultivate more and more foraging plants.




Benefits And Risks Of Having Large No. Of Hives Per Apiary

There is both benefits and risk of having a large no. of hives per apiary. The main thing is if there are more apiary then it will be easy to identify the weak and strong colonies. The bees will be stronger and learn to survive during competitive situations.

On the other hand, if there is a mite infection in one hive and you are not aware of it, it might destroy your entire colony.



Benefits Of Having Large No. Hives Per Apiary

Following are the benefits of having multiple hives per apiary.

  1. Increase In Honey Production: Having more bee colonies obviously will increase honey production.
  2. Learning Opportunity: Having multiple colonies will lead you to spend more time with bees. As a result, you will be able to learn more faster about maintaining them.
  3. Identifying Strong And Weak Colony: By comparing multiple colonies, you will be able to identify more easily which colony is strong and which one is weak.
  4. Disease Management: Comparing among beehives you will be able to identify any disease at the pre-developing stage.
  5. Requeening Queenless Hive: If you have multiple beehives it will help you to requeen any of your queenless hives with the help of another queen from another apiary. Make sure that the apiary from where you are taking the new queen still has another queen left.
  6. Splitting Overcrowded Hives: Having multiple hives will help you to split over crowded hive and merge it with a smaller one.
  7. Diversity Of Crops: Having a large no. of beehives will increase pollination in your region. As a result, the yield of crops will increase. The diversity of crops will also be increased.
  8. More Profit: Not only honey, beekeepers also make a profit from wax, foundation, and queen. You can create a nuc of bees for commercial purposes. Also, you can rear a queen in a cage and sell it to other beekeepers.

In conclusion, having a large no. of hives per apiary increases the profit of the beekeepers, and makes learning about bees faster.



Risks Of Having Large No. Beehives Per Apiary

Having an excess amount of hives per apiary has the following risk factors.

  1. Increase The Competition: A large no. of colonies will cause internal clashes among them, as competition for foraging will increase. But if there are enough food sources there is less risk of clash among them.
  2. Swarming Chance: If any colony is getting demolished by another colony, or can’t compete with others, they might swarm away. So, you should be considered weak colonies.
  3. Spread Of Disease: If you can’t identify mite infection at the pre-developing stage, it could be costly. It will destroy your multiple beehives as it will spread fast to the neighbor hives.
  4. Food Shortage: As the competition increases food sources can become limited for certain seasons. This might be solved by providing them with extra sugar syrup during non-foraging seasons.


Suppose you have selected a large no. of hives for your apiary. Because currently, you see there are a large number of foraging plants. Lots of food resources are available, so no problem with a large no. of beehives.

But what about fall and winter? Is the situation will be the same? Definitely not. During fall and winter no. of flowering plants decreases. Also, hives have become overpopulated.

During winter bees have to work a lot to keep them warm. So, the situation can be worse if there is a large no. of hives.

So, keep the optimal amount of hives so that the profit margin increases and the loss factor decreases.




Frequently Asked Questions



How many hives do most beekeepers have?

Most beekeepers have 5 to 12 hives. For commercial beekeeping, beekeepers may have even hundreds of hives. Usually, most beekeepers have around 10 hives per apiary.

How many beehives should a beginner start with?

A beginner should start with 1 to 2 hives. Starting with 1 hive is also good. With time you will learn more about your bees. So, you will be able to automatically multiply the number of hives with time.

How many hives does it take to make honey?

You can even make money from 1 to 2 hives if you can use them properly. But for commercial beekeeping and full-time earning purpose, the number of hives are 6 to 20 per apiary.

How many beehives can you put on 1 acre?

You can put up to 10 hives on 1 acre. It is prepared to use 5 to 8 hives per acre of land. This is to provide bees enough space to live peacefully.

Can you put 2 beehives next to each other?

Yes, you can put 2 beehives next to each other. Just make sure to have at least 8-inch difference between them.




Final Words & References

Selecting the number of hives per apiary is really crucial for successful beekeeping. However, you must consider the factors discussed above while deciding the number of hives for your apiary. Having multiple beehives per apiary will mitigate risks and increase profit margin.

It is always suggested not to keep more than 20 hives for mobile apiary. You should keep the range between 15 to 40 hives per apiary for commercial beekeeping.

If you have a large no. of apiary, make sure to provide them enough food and water. Make sure to gain more and more knowledge about them. Allocate more necessary resources for their healthiness.

Following are the references that can be helpful for your commercial beekeeping.

  1. Apiary – Wikipedia.
  2. The Plight of the Honeybee: A Socioecological Analysis of Large-scale Beekeeping in the United States. Author: Laurent Cilia.
  3. Performance of hygienic honey bee colonies in a commercial apiary. Authors: Marla Spivak and Gary S. Reuter



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