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As a beekeeper you are sometimes required to move Beehives, either due to a site closing down or you have just bought some new bees, and you need to move them from the sellers premises.
The popular theory is that you have to move beehives three feet or three miles, this theory has been argued by many. We have had great success by changing the hive entrance to force the bees to re-ornate to the new location. Some beekeeper place a branch in front of the hive entrance. We have also found our Robbing Screen have a similar effect on the bees.
Here is my thoughts on how we move bee colonies around our property or across the city.
Moving Bee Colonies
Here are some requirements for moving beehives and things to think about.
Don’t cook your bees.
It’s better to move your bees at night or early morning, when the bees are all home and the temperature is lower. I wouldn’t recommend moving bees on a hot day. If you move your bees during the day, most of the field bees will be out of the hive and these girls won’t find their way back home.
We always try and reach the destination just as sunrise is starting, so the heat of the day is reduced. Large commercial beekeepers use refrigerated trucks for the same reasons.
Things you need:-
A tie down cable, it is essential that you harness the hives together. So the individual hives levels don’t move while travelling. We use the tie down cables that are used to secure items on a trailer. These are also known as Ratchet Ties.
You also want to make sure that the hives are unable to topple over. Pack empty hive boxes around them. You need to ensure that the hives don’t move during the trip or if you have to stop in a hurry.
It’s also a good idea to harness the boxes to a solid object in your vehicle, so it doesn’t move forward if you need to stop in a hurry.
Seal up the hive
You need to seal of the entrance to the hive, we use a block of wood and tape this onto the hives. We drill holes into this to provide ventilation. Make sure the holes are too small for bees to get out of the hive. You can also make a entrance with mesh on it to provide more ventilation.
Leave the bees for a few minutes at the new location before opening them, also don’t wear a head torch when you open the entrance. The guard bees will head towards the light and can sting you.
We have been using our Robbing Screens to move the hives boxes, these have been working well.
Other things you can do:-
Move hives with a screened bottom board or a screened roof, this will ensure the bees don’t get too hot on the trip.
If you have air conditioning in your car then use that on a cool setting. I wouldn’t recommend turning on the cars heater, if the bees are sharing the same air space.
Do you have any other tips you could add to this post? Please share below:-
- Delivering beehives with Bike-A-Bee and Chicago Cargo flickr photo by Steven Vance shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license