In past years, when it was time to mow the orchard/bee yard, I would give the hive stands a fairly wide berth until right at the end of mowing that area, then drive the tractor as quickly as possible in front and back of them about ten feet away. I did this without a suit on, because there were few hives, and the speed generally got me past them and away before they figured out what was happening. This resulted in much less area to whack to knock down the grass and weeds in that ten foot area before and behind them (suited, of course), but was still kind of a pain. Obviously, getting nearer to the hives with the tractor would be much better, efficiency-wise, leaving much less area to have to manually whack. The very first year with bees, I did run up right across the areas directly in front of the hives, as they were young hives, and there wasn’t much danger in doing so.
Now, with six very active hives, another hive likely to come from a split of one of those, and more bees coming, efficiency is definitely key, as is spending as little time possible annoying them with motors or vibrations. After all, I want them to be able to focus on their work pollinating, collecting pollen and nectar, making new bees, and generating honey. So today, I suited up, climbed on the tractor, and started mowing, running right up in front of the hives. The girls were supremely pissy about this: bees boiled out from every single hive, some coming to knock against me and the tractor, others forming up on the landing boards, and some flying around in front of their homes, ready to attack in force. Suiting up: excellent decision!
At one point I hopped off the tractor to pull the two new hive stands out of the way to mow under them, and when I turned to climb back on, there were bees buzzing around the tractor, attempting to communicate their displeasure to it about its motor, and the vibrations from the blades disturbing their piece. On the down side: it can be a little hot in the suit, even on a cooler day like today. On the plus side: I swept a couple of bees off the seat before I climbed back on, so no stings in the butt (or anywhere else), and the orchard/bee yard is mowed right up to and behind the stands, leaving much less to whack, and that just right under each stand.
Next project: digging out the grass from under each stand, laying landscape fabric in, and topping it with mulch. My desired end result: no whacking necessary around the stands at all. Easy and efficient is the name of the game, particularly with the brutal summers we have.