The ground under your hives

Do you need wood chips? I have some extra…. There is a service getchipdrop.com that provides free wood chips to home owners. Local arborists drop their fresh wood chips off at no charge, which is often quicker and cheaper than taking them to a dump or other location. So it is good for home owners, good for the arborist company, and good for the environment. One challenge, of course, is that you never know exactly how much you will get. Let’s just say I have more than I was hoping for.

Beekeepers have varying opinions for the ground under their hives. Some just use grass and weeds, which has been my historical strategy. One concern with this is that hive beetle larva can burrow into the dirt and pupate. This only occurs if there is a hive beetle issue in your hives, of course. With my hives in full sun, I have not really had any issues.

To counter this, beekeepers will spread diatomaceous earth on the ground, which will damage any insects that fall into the soil, including hive beetles and occasionally bees. A layer of landscaping cloth covered in gravel is another option, or even concrete, although I figure such a hard surface is harder on the beekeeper.

In past years I have countered the grass and weeds with old outdoor rugs that I move around to selectively kill off sections of the yard. This year I thought I might try some wood mulch.

So a while ago I signed up at getchipdrop.com to receive some wood chips. It took over a month, but about a week ago the following piles (!) showed up on my lawn. It appears to be two dump trucks full, my guess is at least 20 cubic yards of fresh wood chips.

So I am working on covering the bee yard in cardboard, and then applying a 3-4 inch layer of wood chips. The vegetation underneath dies with the lack of light, and the cardboard and chips decompose over time to leave a nice weed-free layer of mulch (at least for a couple years, I hope).

Below is a shot of the entrance area to my bees, covered in cardboard and chips. The overall fence is roughly 30 feet by 30 feet, so there is a bit of ground to cover. You can also see two of my outdoor rugs in the back. It’s a bit hard on my aging back, but otherwise I think it looks great.

May you prosper and find honey.

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