Siting your apiary

Apiaries should be sited so that only the beekeeper ever gets stung!

By having high walls or hedges around an apiary, bees can be forced to fly well above close neighbours. If neighbours or pets do get stung, relations can be impaired and the risk of danger to life, although small, cannot be overlooked. Anaphylasis

Colonies can be kept almost anywhere in the British Isles, even in urban and suburban areas where honey yields can be surprisingly high. The number of colonies kept depends on available forage and limitations of the site.

If the beekeeper wishes to build up beyond the capacity of their home apiary, they will need to establish out-apiaries away from the home site. Bees do not require daily attention, so it’s feasible to keep them away from home but the colonies must be given attention when they need it so access to the out-apiary must be unhindered and accessible by road.

An apiary should meet the following requirements;

  • It should be sheltered, dry and sunny
  • Fresh water should be available from a source bees can safely drink. Bees drown easily when out of their depth. A shallow tray sprinkled with gravel is ideal but remember to keep it topped up (rain water is best) and place it some distance away from the hive.
  • ideally south facing; bees will immediately find the Sun to orientate before heading off in their chosen direction. If the hive faces south, their flight path will be more predictable.
  • away from frost pockets and damp areas
  • some areas cannot support large numbers of colonies throughout the season. If unsure, speak to another beekeeper
  • the flight path of bees must be considered so they don’t fly over neighbours’ gardens and washing lines – bees only poo outside the hive and they love a bit of target practice on the laundry! Make sure seating areas of your garden or footpaths are not directly south of the hive or you’ll be in their flight path!
  • Ideally, your hive should be screened by trees or fencing from human passers- by to keep both bees and passers-by happy! A head-height fence is ideal.
  • Ensure your hive is sited where wild or farm animals will not disturb it or the bees will not disturb them.
  • it’s a good idea to find out the map reference for your apiary and write it somewhere accessible, maybe on a hive stand. The What3words app is useful and is used by the emergency services. You may need to direct an ambulance one day.

Hive stands

Hives must not be set unprotected on the ground or damp will rot the floor and vegetation will quickly grow up and block the hive entrances.

Wooden stands are often used but they must be stoutly built as hives weigh 50 to 100 kg (100 to 200 lb) when full. Another good and simple solution is to set each one on a concrete slab.

Bees’ natural inclination is to choose a site high off the ground so lifting them up about a couple of feet is good for them and good for preventing ‘beekeepers back’ when you are working with your hives.

The ground in front of hives must be kept clear of vegetation. Cut or trim regularly but don’t use weed killer.

As the beekeeper will work the hive from behind, a space should be left behind the hives which gives the beekeeper convenient access. If the space there is level and wide enough to accommodate roofs and stacks of supers etc., lifted off during inspections, working the hives is much easier.

It is generally believed the hives work best if the entrances face south or south-east. However this is not a matter of prime importance.

These hives face East and do very well

Check that each stand you construct is
– solid and firm and not rocking;
– level from side to side;
– sloping slightly from back to front with the front lower than the back.

Time spent on these details before the bees are on your hands will save much labour and heartache later.


BeeBase is offered free to beekeepers by the National Bee Unit. It is funded by DEFRA, the Welsh Government and Scotland’s Bee Health Programme.

The website provides a wide range of apicultural information to help beekeepers maintain healthy and productive colonies. It provides a wide range of beekeeping information including honey bee related legislation, information about pests and diseases and how to recognise, control and treat them. There are also downloadable publications and advisory leaflets.

Meridian highly recommends that new and experienced beekeepers make use of this extremely useful resource and sign up. Doing so puts you on the radar of the regional bee inspector who is there to help and guide you. Should you suspect your bees have been affected by a notifiable disease or pest, a visit from an inspector can be arranged. This is not something to be feared, the inspectors are extremely knowledgeable and are there to help. Registering with Beebase also means you’ll receive email notifications of threats and problems when they occur in your locality.

Registering also helps Beebase understand the distribution of beekeepers and their apiaries across the country. This helps them to effectively monitor and control the spread of serious honey bee pests and diseases, as well as providing up-to-date information on keeping bees healthy and productive.

By registering with Beebase you will play a very important part in helping to maintain and sustain honey bees for the future.

Bee Inspectors contact details

Kevin Pope
Mobile : 07775 119466

Daniel Etheridge
Mobile: 07979 119376

Peter Davies
Mobile : 07900 292160

obtaining a nucleus

A nucleus colony, or nuc for short, is a small honey bee colony created from a larger one. It’s so named because it’s smaller than a full-sized colony and is centred on a queen bee and a nucleus of worker bees.

A good quality nucleus is like gold dust and can be raised for a beginner by a local beekeeper or beekeeping association.

A good quality nucleus will 

  • have a young, good quality, laying queen. She may be marked and/or clipped
  • have all stages of brood present
  • be free of signs of disease
  • have at least three frames with brood
  • have four frames or more fully covered with honey bees
  • have at least one full comb of honey (or equivalent) and half a frame of pollen
  • contain comb which is in a good, clean condition, preferably being less than one season old

Meridian will be happy to raise a nucleus colony for new members provided they have attended the Introduction to beekeeping course.


Our temperate climate

In Britain, we have a maritime temperate climate which is one of the most varied weather systems in the world. British bees are best adapted to cope with our climate and the resultant vegetation. Local bees are better still.

Maritime temperate regions are found in areas near coasts where the sea and onshore winds provide more rain. This helps to keep the temperatures level throughout the year.

Typical characteristics of temperate regions include:

  • having four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.
  • unpredictability – whilst having recognised characteristics, most of the seasons will also have very varied weather within them. Rain, fog and lower temperatures may not be uncommon even in summer. Don’t we know it!
  • believe it or not, temperate regions are the most popular climate to live in because we don’t experience the wide variations of some of the more extreme climates.
  • the ability to grow a large variety of crops and fruit meaning agriculture is a major income earner in these regions. Grain crops such as wheat, barley and oats are extensively grown. Pears, apples, strawberries and other soft fruit are grown to sell either as fresh produce or for manufacturing into products such as jam.
  • deciduous trees in most areas giving way to coniferous trees where the temperatures are lower for example in hilly or mountainous regions.

Britain’s summer temperatures are generally cooler than further into Europe. This is because the sea has a moderating effect keeping the land cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Our changeable weather makes accurate weather forecasting difficult to achieve. Rain often comes in the form of storms which develop in the North Atlantic and blow across Britain from west to east at all times of the year.

Even on our small island, the weather, and to some extent the climate, differs from north to south and east to west. Mountainous areas get a lot more rain than the lowlands and this has a large effect on what can be grown. Lowland areas tend to be warmer and more suitable for large-scale agriculture. British bees are adapted to make the best of the weather in their particular area and the crops and plants that grow there.

Getting your bees

You’re excited to get started, you’ve searched the internet. You’ve found some bees you can immediately send off for or go and collect. We understand, we’ve all been there, but before you rush off, there’s a few things you may wish to consider.

Not all honey bees are the same. There are different strains; they don’t even look the same. Many in Britain are small and dark, almost black or dark brown, others are larger and more noticeably orange. Some bees are easy to control and some are virtually uncontrollable especially in the hands of a beginner. If you end up with defensive bees, you may become discouraged and give-up beekeeping before you’ve really started. Also, you can’t keep highly defensive bees in a garden close to neighbours but you can keep a gentle colony which has been properly sited. siting your apiary

Some beginners are attracted to Mediterranean strains because they’re said to be gentle and productive but they don’t necessarily have the frugality of local bees and may not make their stores last the winter.our temperate climate

When buying bees:

  • Avoid buying bees from outside your area. It risks accelerating the spread of pests and diseases. Since Brexit, it’s illegal to buy packages or colonies of bees from abroad because it risks importing the devastating pests that we have so far managed to avoid in the UK. Most beekeepers agree, local strains are better adapted to the flora and weather conditions of that locality.
  • Use a reputable supplier. References will help you choose. Ask the supplier where the queen has come from. It is not always clear what strain of honey bee you are obtaining and whether the queen has been bred by the supplier, bought in or imported. If you join a beekeeping association, they will usually raise a nucleus of local bees for you and they will follow established quality guidelines obtaining a nucleus
  • It’s important to examine the bees before you purchase them to ensure they meet the required standard and are disease free. If you are not competent to do this then ask a beekeeper who is to check for you. If the vendor is not prepared to show you or allow examination consider why.

** New** Under new rules that came into force since Brexit, it is now illegal to bring bees into Great Britain. There are separate rules in Northern Ireland. Since the end of the transition period, only queen bees can be imported into Great Britain, rather than colonies and packages of bees. This page will be updated when further information becomes available.


Meridian Beekeepers’ Association

Meridian was set up over twenty years ago by a group of enthusiasts with the aim of encouraging new and existing beekeepers to look after their bees by means of good husbandry and increased knowledge.

A great deal of effort has been put in by many members to increase public awareness and to help educate school children about bees, beekeeping, pollination and the environment. 

Our mentoring scheme, apiary meetings and training have proved very popular and the cooperation between members means that difficulties and challenges can usually be resolved quickly and effectively. If the association’s members don’t know the answer, we usually know someone who does!

Meridian Beekeepers’ Association is a member of Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association and the British Beekeepers’ Association. Our members are protected by insurance provided by Bee Disease Insurance Limited.

We have two Association apiaries at Swanmore and West End, Southampton.

We support beekeepers and beekeeping in the South Hampshire area of Southern England. Our area ranges from Romsey in the West, Winchester in the North, Meon Valley and Fareham to the East and South.

Your committee


Old Dairy House, Mayhill Lane, Swanmore, Hampshire, SO32 2QW

West End allotments, Moorgreen Road, West End, Southampton, Hampshire, SO30 2HG

Equipment loan

The association has some essential equipment for loan but it is important that members return the equipment in a clean and fully working state. A deposit may be required for each piece of equipment borrowed which is returnable on completion of the loan.


  • Extractor (3 units)
  • Settling tank
  • Lightweight plastic uncapping tray                   
  • Warming Cabinet   
  • Heather Press          
  • Display Boards      
  • Display Hive            
  • Burco boiler (for cleaning frames and equipment)
  • Dissecting Microscope  (£25 deposit)
  • Dissecting Microscope (£50 deposit)       
  • Hp Microscope (2 units) (£50 deposit)                 

Before borrowing a microscope, members should have a good working knowledge of their use. There is a BBKA course and microscopy certificate.

USB Computer Mini Microscope Cameras are also available with software to record microscope images.

Pestle and Mortars can be provided free when borrowed with the high power microscope.

Slides and coverslips can be provided.



The Association shall be called the Meridian Beekeepers’ Association hereinafter referred to as the MBA or the Association.

2. Objective

a. The Objectives of the MBA are to promote and encourage the craft of beekeeping in the community by means of education, information and co-operation.

b. To encourage and foster the highest standards of beekeeping, the best standards of honey, healthy bees and with disease and swarm control.

c. To encourage the young to take up the craft and offer assistance to all new beekeepers.

d. To encourage members to increase their knowledge by studying and taking BBKA Examinations.

3. Relationships

The Association is affiliated to the (Hampshire Beekeepers’ Association) and the (British Beekeepers’ Association). All rules of the HBA and the BBKA shall be observed by members of Meridian.

4. Membership

Membership of the MBA is open to any person willing to accept the rules of the association and whose membership is approved by the Management Committee.

The classes of membership shall be:

4.1 Full Members (registered)

4.2 Partner Members

4.2 Associate

4.3 Honorary Member

4.4 Junior Member

4.5 Corporate Member

Full members have the right to speak and vote at any meeting and to attend any general meetings. They can only attend a committee meeting at the invitation of the committee. A member need not be a current beekeeper.

Partner members are those who live in the same house as the ordinary member and who might look after the bees in the absence of the full member or have bees of their own.

Associates – Beekeepers who are full members of another association can be registered as Associates of MBA. Members of the family of an MBA ordinary Member are entitled to become associates of MBA (Family). Non-beekeepers who wish to become associates may do so, on the understanding that if and when they acquire a stock of bees they apply for Ordinary membership. Associates may speak at any formal meetings but cannot vote. Corporate members are individual members or Businesses/Other Associations who are keen to support the association and research.

Honorary Membership – This may be awarded for conspicuous service to the association. The recipient has free membership together with all the rights and privileges of Ordinary Membership. The Association will be responsible for paying their capitation to BBKA.

Junior Members are any person who is still in full-time education and/or is under 18 on 31st December preceding the year of membership, has no more than two hives and pays the required capitation to the Association for sending on to BBKA through the Treasurer of MBA.

5. Subscriptions

The annual subscription for the following year will be fixed at the AGM which takes place in February. Every member will be insured through Bee Disease Insurance within the limits of that insurance.

6. Management

The Management of the Association will be vested in the following Officers:

6.1 The Chairman

6.2 up to 6 elected committee from the membership

6.3 The Secretary

6.4 The Treasurer

6.5 The Membership Secretary

All the Officers of the Association will be elected at the Annual General Meeting. No person whilst an undischarged bankrupt may serve on the committee or hold any other office or appointment within the association.

The Committee has the power to co-opt additional members for special purposes.

The membership is able to pass a vote of no confidence in the Committee by calling a Special General Meeting with at least 65% of the membership present.

A simple majority is sufficient. The Secretary and Treasurer would remain until the new committee had been elected.

Your committee

7. Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting will be convened in February or March each year. Business will consist of the following:

7.1 Reports from the Chairman, Secretary and the audited accounts from the Treasurer

7.2 Report from the HBA Delegate

7.3 Election of Officers and committee members for the following year.

7.4 Changes to Rules of Association notified to members 6 weeks in advance.

7.5 Appointment of Auditor

7.6 Any items agreed by the Chairman and notified to the membership on the Agenda at least one week in advance of the meeting. All members are entitled to address the meeting through the chair.

8. Alteration to the rules of the Association

A proposal by any member to alter the rules of the Association must be with the Secretary at least 8 weeks before the AGM so that the Management Committee can be informed. The proposed amendment will then go on the MBA website or be posted as required at least 6 weeks before the AGM. Discussion will take place at the AGM and a decision decided by a vote.

9. Quorum

A quorum will be a minimum of 4 (four) of the elected members of the committee, A quorum for the AGM will be no less than two fifths of the current Ordinary Members.

10. Monthly meetings

The Secretary in conjunction with the management committee will arrange regular meetings to be held indoors from October until April and in members’ apiaries throughout the rest of the year. Lectures will be presented on aspects of beekeeping.

11. Website

The webmaster shall at the request of the secretary and management committee keep an up-to-date MBA website.  This shall be the main source of information for all members and non-members to include, but not limited to, items for sale, regular meeting times and venues, information from other associations, articles of interest local, national and international and announcements and information for members.

12. Extra-ordinary general meetings – The association shall hold an extra-ordinary general meeting at the request of five ordinary members of the Association or at the request of the Management Committee. The nature of the business to be discussed must accompany any such request. No other business will be discussed. Two week notice of the meeting must be given to members.

13. Enrolment

Applications for enrolment in the MBA are to be made to the Membership Secretary on the appropriate form and be accompanied by the appropriate membership fee.

14. Termination of membership

Any member giving notice of resignation or being in arrears on 28 February in any year will be deemed to have resigned and the Membership Secretary will remove his/her name from the register of members.

15.Voting rights

Only current ordinary members may vote. Voting at all meetings will be by a show of hands. Tellers will be nominated by the Chairman should the need arise. The Chairman will have a casting vote if a tie is declared.

16. Notice of meetings

Not less than seven days notice in writing shall be given for the Annual General Meeting and not less than seven days notice for any Extra-ordinary General meeting. Committee members shall be given a calling notice for a committee meeting at least seven days in advance.

All details of regular meetings and the AGM are published in the MBA Handbook and on the website.

17. Finance

The Treasurer is responsible for all the financial transactions of the Association. There are to be two signatories on all cheques, one must always be the Treasurer and the other can be an elected member of the management committee. The financial year will run from 1st January to 31st December. The Treasurer is responsible for presenting the audited accounts at the Annual General Meeting.

18. Bee Disease Insurance

All members who hold a stock of bees must pay annually the BDI premiums. The premiums will be collected by the Treasurer with the payment of the subscription for the minimum number of hives. Additional premiums can be paid up to a maximum of 40 hives. The cost of additional premiums will appear on the enrolment form.

19. Winding-up

A proposal for the winding up of the MBA must be put to an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting of the membership. To be effective such a proposal must be carried by a minimum of 75% of Ordinary members present and written proxy votes. If upon winding up of the MBA there remains after the satisfaction of all debts and liabilities any property or funds these are to be transferred to HBA for use by the Executive in any way they see to benefit beekeeping in the County.


Meridian shop has British wax foundation purchased by the association from This is high quality bees wax. Buying in bulk we are able to offer wax for sale to members at a reduced cost.

British Standard National brood foundation wired is £1.20 per sheet and British Standard National foundation unwired (this can be used for super frames; one sheet can fill two frames) £1.10 per sheet.

Most members purchase their other supplies personally online, however, if you are unable to do this yourself, Meridian will be happy to order on your behalf, or could look into discounts where appropriate.

Please contact Denise Smith at tel: 07525 753025