Moving Beehives

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:-

Strap up the hive
Strap up the hive

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

Seal up Entrance
Seal up Entrance

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.

Secure Screen to Hive
Secure Screen to Hive

Other things you can do:-

kiwimana Meshboard Inspection Tray Open

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:-

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7 thoughts on “Moving Beehives

  1. Avatar photo
    Su Wood says:

    I would like to know if you have any ingenious ways to move a hive? As we know they are very heavy I am now sure about, how to get a hive, as a complete unit, from point A (being the site) to point B (being the mode of transport), after it is strapped together. I have a flight of stairs on the outside of my house (16 in total). Porters trolley could be possible but I am not sure about stairs or lifting them onto a vehicle or trailer. Any ideas?

    • Avatar photo
      The Editor says:

      Thanks for the feedback Su.

      Hmmm how about getting a piece of gib board and placing it across the stairs. Use the board to slide the hive down the stairs with someone guiding it down below the hive?

      That might work as long as the person below it can slow its travel?

      What do you think…Gary

  2. Avatar photo
    Julia says:

    Hi, We had to move our beehives last year from a old site on our property to their new site which was probably less than 100 meters away. We tried a method we found on an overseas website ? (sorry can’t remember details ) Anyway it involved moving the beehives just before dark ,making sure they have a bottom ventilation screen on and blocking off entrance. We took the beehives into a cool dark shed on our property and left them for 3 days making sure they have good ventilation and the shed is dark at all times. After 3 days you move the beehives to their new spot. We did this and had great success , only a couple of bees went to their old site. The bees recovered well too. The idea behind this was that after 3 days in the dark the bees compass becomes reprogrammed just like when they swarm and they take to their new site quite well. We have tried the other method of moving hives to their new location (for short distances )by moving the hives in the early evening. Then after putting them in their new site we placed branches in front etc,(IT is best to do this during a rainy spell where it rains for a few days) but we lost more bees with that method than the first method. That’s our little experience. Thanks Gary and Margaret for great info. Julia

  3. Avatar photo
    Dieter says:

    moving heavy hives up or down I use a couple of planks. The length according to the height difference to be covered.
    moving hives around I use a hand truck or push cart. Secure the hive to the cart!
    bees, as a rule, will always find a crack or hole to get out of the hive. I throw a bed sheet over the hive to keep them underneath. There are always a dozen or two crawling around.
    4a. if you move them on a trailer you won’t loose them in the wind
    4b. if you move them inside your car you don’t want them flying around.
    if you do have bees in the car, also from having carried them in on your clothing after an inspection, open the window in the front slightly. This will keep the bees in the back until you have an opportunity to let them go.
    after moving a hive I always leave an empty super at the old location for any returning field bees to have a place to go and combine them later.
    Other than that “lost” bees will likely join other colonies adding to their GDP, i.e. are not lost for the beekeeper

    • Avatar photo
      Margaret Groot says:

      thanks Dieter, the idea of having a ‘collection’ box for stragglers is a good one. It is important that when moving the stragglers – wait til nightfall and they will be gathered so less chance of missing someone. Nightfall is after sunset and its natural for the bees to be at home. If using a trailor, its really important to know that as Beehives are made up of several components – moving on a trailor may cause the hive to separate so having a ratchet tie to secure the hive itself and then two ratchet ties to secure on trailor, both secured to the trailor this is because trailors do have a tendency to bounce around more easy than in the back of a car. Cheers Dieter and thanks so much for sharing your methods…Regards, Margaret and Gary …it’s the kiwimana buzz…

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