How do we place hives to prevent drifting?

Q: We are second year beekeepers, and after splits and swarms are finding ourselves with four hives. The books seem to indicate a long line of hives is not good due to “drifting.” What do you think of a U formation then? Is it OK to have hives with entrances facing each other? Suggestions? Thanks, and thanks for another good newsletter. Rich and Diane

A: We turned to Texas beekeeper Dennis Brown for his insights on this one, thanks Dennis!

It is absolutely true. You will create a drifting problem if you line your hives up in a row right next to one another.

I have always placed my hives in twos. I place two hives in line next to each other (a foot or so apart) facing the same direction. Then I will place two more in line but, five feet apart from the first set of two in the same direction. You could add another set of two in line five feet from the last set in the same direction.


At this time I would change direction. You could begin to create a “U” shape if you like. You can add three sets of hives to create the right arm of the “U” and then three sets to create the left arm of the “U”. All the hives can face the inside of the “U” or turn them 180 degrees. It doesn’t matter. Personally, I like my hives to face the inside of the “U” because I can observe all the entrances at the same time. The important thing to remember is that your hives on the arms will be ten to fifteen feet away from each other when you create your “U”. The base of the “U” has a clear path in front of it.


My hives are much easier to work when placed in twos. I can work one hive from one side and the other hive from the other side. If you have more than two together, you will have to bend around and work the middle hive from the back. Your back can wear out pretty quickly like that.

Review: You can line your hives up but, keep two together and then two more at least five feet away from the first set. Entrance direction does not matter. Add a third set then start changing hive direction. If you want a “U” shape, move up in front of the last hive in the first row five feet and place three sets of two hives five feet apart for the left arm and three sets of two hives for the right arm. Now you have a perfect “U”. With this configuration, drifting is never an issue.

Dennis Brown, Author of “Beekeeping: A Personal Journey”, Lone Star Farms,

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