Moving Beehives a Short Distance

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This article is for urban beekeepers who want to move a bee colony or hive a short distance on their property. Have you ever asked yourself “How fat can you move a beehive?”. We hope this article answers your questions.

A common Myth in Beekeeping is that “If you want to move Beehives you, have to move them 3 feet or 3 miles”

Which means that you can only move beehives 3 feet everyday, or move it 3 miles away and then leave it for a month then move to the new location on your property.

Moving Beehives

In the height of summer we are often moving colonies all over our bee yard, we found this technique works well for moving bee hives a short distance.

Here are the steps

  1. After sunset or when the bees have stopped flying, close up the hive.
  2. Put a strap around all the boxes, so they don’t come apart on the short trip.
  3. Setup the hive where you want it to be located, Open up the hive.
  4. Place an obstruction over the entrance of the hive. We find a leafy bush works well.
  5. Remove the obstruction after a couple of weeks.

Why this works

Bush in front of Hive

The obstruction in front of the hive forces the bees to re-orientate themselves to the new location. The tree or bush makes them think something has changed.

This should prevent most of the worker bees from going back to the old location.

How To Move A Beehive a long distance

We wrote an article about how we do this HERE.

Other Tips

Do this before a few days of rain, the longer the bees are stuck in the hive the better they re-orientate themselves. But don’t block the entrance.

Do you have any tips to add this article? Please comment below, what other things do you do when moving bee hives a short distance?

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25 thoughts on “Moving Beehives a Short Distance

  1. Denis Muir says:

    I have already successfully used a slight variation, but which requires you do have a mesh floor hive but it eliminates the need for some form of hive entrance obstruction.

    Simply close the hive – move it and leave closed it for a minimum 48 – 72 hours before opening it again. Suggests the bees have a relatively short term GPS memory. Checking the previous hive location several timers over 24 hours after reopening the hive did not reveal any bees flying around looking confused.

  2. kevin moore says:

    Hi the one thing you need to be aware of if moving hives a short distance is that you should never leave any thing on the site where you moved the hive from, no old floors, walker boards, bricks or any other lumps of wood as the bees see these things as there old hive, Its is ok to put another hive there after the former bees have settled into there new position,

  3. Graham Ardern says:

    HI I have moved my hives from Warkworth back too Wainui Silverdale. There is plenty of bees and brude but there is know sign of honey making in the 2 hives, does anyone have any idea what could be going on. If they stay the way they are they won’t have any food for the winter ? .

    • Gary Fawcett says:

      Hi Graham,

      Hmmm never seen that before, how long ago did the move happen?

      Do the bees have plenty of space to put nectar? Can you see new eggs from the Queen (less than three day old ones?)

      Thanks…Gary

  4. Cheryl says:

    We have bee’s that have been in a wall of old house for 15-20 years and want to relocate to a box. How do you do that? Also it seems to be massive by sound of it. How many queens can be in the wall?

    • Gary Fawcett says:

      Hi Cheryl,

      Sounds like what you need to do is a cutout, where someone come over and cuts the wall and removes the bees.

      What area in the world do you live? You could try and local beekeeping club who may be able to help or direct you to a bee removal company.

      Thanks…Gary Fawcett

  5. Gary Linter - Cole says:

    This is a very useful hint. We’ve been pondering the move matter of ten meters.
    This reads like our solution.
    Tino pai.

  6. Dave says:

    I use the same method but I use a distinctive smelling plant to partially block the entrance like sage, mint or lavender. Since I use screen bottom boards, I also put some of the same plant under the colony while they are closed up, it gives their hive a distinctive smell. Never had a problem.

  7. Barry Moore says:

    I have moved dozens of hive short distances this summer with almost undetectable flyback – I combine 2 simple methods and tend to move the hives in the evening and start the reorientation in the morning. First step is to open up entrance and stuff it with a neat bundle of dry grass and mint stalks – ie very quickly poke bundle into entrance. Use of mint provides first signal to bees that something has changed – 2nd signal is the blocked entrance. Next step is to put a fairly dense covering of leafy branches over the entrance – ferns or bracken very good for this- this is the 3rd signal. I then reach through and partially pull out & loosen the dry grass bundle just to the point where a couple of bees get out. I then leave for 36 hrs or so during which time the colony will have partially cleared the grass and will be flying- they don’t like eating the mint! By this time it is clear all emerging bees are reorientering – flying in gradually expanding figures of figures of 8 – I then pull out remaining grass & mint and a couple of days later take away the branches.

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