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How Do You Transport Bees In A Car?

It doesn’t matter whether you need to pick up a new hive of bees or you need to move one of your existing hives to a new location. It is absolutely possible to safely transport bees in a car over long distances. If you do not transport bees correctly, you and your car will be a disaster!

As long as you prepare correctly, everything in the transport process will go smoothly. Suit up, strap up, and keep it cool! By driving alone, driving slowly, and maintaining proper ventilation in your car, you and your bees will arrive at your destination safely.

Without proper preparation for your transport, moving a hive can be a stressful experience. Luckily, you found my post! Read more to know all about how to transport bees in a car.

Before Transporting Honeybees

Moving a beehive in your car doesn’t have to be a dangerous or risky activity. However, if you aren’t careful and don’t follow a few crucial steps, the situation could go wrong, and very quickly too! Let’s take a look at what you need to make sure of before transport:

  1. Suit up.

Honeybees can become very easily agitated when their home is being moved around, and who can blame them? This is why it is so important that you wear the correct protective beekeeping gear, such as a full bee suit, gloves, as well as a veil when moving your hive.

Even if you have sealed the hive, there’s still a chance that some bees could find their way out, or there may be a few stragglers around that definitely will not appreciate what you are trying to do!

  • Strap up.

When moving a beehive, it is crucial to make sure it stays together tightly. You can secure the baseboard to the brood box by using straps.

You can also decide to use a couple of rathet straps for moves over longer distances, just to be 100% safe! For shorter distances, a single strap should be more than enough.

  • Either shut the door or don’t shut the door.

This may sound confusing, but the distance you plan to travel will change whether or not you should seal the entrance of the beehive before loading it in a car. For moves less than 30 feet, it is recommended that you leave the hive open.

Anything further than 30 feet is recommended to seal up the entrance. The best time to seal your hive’s entrance would be at night or very early in the morning when all of your bees are still inside of their hives. This way, you will avoid losing any stinger friends that may be out foraging.

If there are some bees around the entrance of the hive, you may use your smoker to encourage them to go back inside gently. There will rarely be any need to blow smoke into the hive, but just a few puffs around the entrance should be enough to send them back inside.

You can block up the entrance when you are sure all of the bees are back inside. You can use steel wool, which can be pushed inside of the entrance, but a piece of mesh secured with staples or tape will work just as well! Never forget to close the roof!

  • Keep your hive cool.

As you probably know, beehives can heat up very quickly, so ventilation is of utmost importance. When you are sealing your hive before moving it, always make sure that air can circulate.

Flow hives come with inbuilt ventilation control, so ensure that it is open. If you have a screened baseboard, the ventilation is taken care of. If not, you can use mesh, which you can either tape or staple over the entrance.

Also, be mindful not to leave your hive in the direct sunlight for long periods.

  • Close all holes of the hives.

Before placing the hive inside your vehicle, inspect your hive for any ventilation holes. Close all possible gaps to make sure that the bees won’t be able to crawl through these holes to escape while you’re driving.

You will want to staple mesh or tulle fabric to ensure air is still flowing inside the hive, as mentioned above. Do not just cover these holes with tape and restrict the airflow.

  • Get lots of duct tape, and use it!

It would benefit you and your safety to get high-quality duct tape to make sure that every entrance and hole is adequately sealed.

You can add a few layers of duct tape, mainly on the seams of the hive, to ensure the bees won’t squeeze through the seams and cracks. Again, do not restrict any airflow.

  • Always thoroughly inspect crates when picking up purchased bees.

If you are purchasing bees and collecting them with your car, you can expect them to come in a secure crate. However, before placing the crate or package inside of your vehicle, make sure that you inspect carefully for any gaps, holes, or opportunities for bees to escape the crare while you’re driving. Inmagine that disaster!

It would be best to take duct tape with you for the pickup so you can cover the seams and ensure that the bees remain safely in their crate or package.

  • Get tulle fabric.

Some beekeepers prefer to go the extra mile by purchasing tulle fabric and then wrapping it tightly around the packages. The layer of tulle offers additional protection while allowing the bees to have proper airflow and ventilation still.

You will be able to find tulle fabric at your local fabric store! An alternative to wrapping tulle around your bee package is putting the bee container in a suitable mesh laundry bag.

  • Communicate with your local beekeeping club.

If you still have a couple of questions on what to do before you are ready to drive off with live bees in your car, it might be a good idea to reach out to your local beekeeping club.

You will find and talk to several experienced beekeepers who will be able to assist you in the transport. With some luck, you might find a kind beekeeper who can be there with you to prepare the hive!

During Transport

Now that you know precisely what to do before transport, you can now focus on a few steps to take while transporting your stinger friends and their home. Let’s take a look at what you can do during the transporting process:

  1. Consider getting a truck.

If you need to transport an exceptionally aggressive hive, the best course of action you can take is to use a truck. A truck will not only allow for proper ventilation for your colony but will also create a barrier separating you from your bees.

If you do not own a truck, you can ask a friend to borrow theirs or rent one.

  • Never put the bees inside of your trunk.

It might be tempting to put the bees in the trunk because you will be creating a barrier between you and the hive. Trunks do not offer proper ventilation and can cause your bees to overheat.

If you take adequate measures to seal off your hive, as mentioned above, then you don’t need to worry about any chances of bees flying while you’re busy driving your car.

  • Ventilation is the goal!

Although particularly warm weather is ideal when transporting a beehive, you should always keep your windows open when you’re driving around with bees. Heat with no ventilation can cause your bees to overheat and ultimately kill them.

If you have an air conditioner, you can turn it on and maintain a cool and steady temperature inside the car. Keeping your bees cool will also keep them more docile during the drive.

  • Drive slow!

Even if you need to go on the highway and go up to 70MPH, it would be best not to drive that fast. If it is possible, drive a little slower to ensure your safety when transporting a hive.

  • Drive alone.

Transporting a beehive does not make for a fun family road trip. If it is possible, minimize the number of people inside the car when moving a bee colony. Other people, especially those who are not beekeepers, may feel uncomfortable or scared when thinking that they need to share a space with a few hundred bees.

Their negative energy can transfer to the bees and cause them to get aggressive.

  • Secure the hive inside of the car.

Always secure your bees so that they won’t be able to slide or roll around while you’re on the road. If the hive is big enough, you can secure it with a seat belt. Another option you have is to put the box or package on the floor of the backseat of your car and ensure the hive stays firmly in place.

It would also benefit you if you had a few ratchet straps on hand so that you could secure the hive from all directions.

  • Don’t panic if you see a few bees flying around while you drive.

Even after you are sure that you took the proper measures to secure your hive, do not forget that bees are very innovative creatures, and they will always find a way! If you notice a few bees flying and buzzing around in your car during the drive, try not to panic.

Although some of the bees will find their way out, it doesn’t mean that all bees will. For the large part, bees will fly towards your windows and will not really focus on you. Remain calm and continue the drive to your destination.

  • Mist the bees to keep them cool.

If the weather is really hot, you should prioritize keeping your bees cool during transport. If you are collecting a package of bees, take a spray bottle with cool water with you.

You can spray through the mesh portion of the crate to reach the bees. You can use either plain water or a sugar-water mix. Spraying the bees with water will keep the bees cool and will also calm them down during the disruptive time of their hive being moved.

Be sure not to drench the bees, as a simple misting will be more than enough.

  • Refrain from making long stops.

Your main goal as the beekeeper should be to get your bees to their destination safely. While it is a good idea to make frequent stops to inspect and cool them down with your spray bottle, you shouldn’t take your time to sit down for a snack or run errands.

The hive is already under a lot of stress and shouldn’t be put under more.

  1. Bring a beekeeping suit with you.

Always have a beekeeping suit with you when you stop to inspect your bees. However, it would be best not to drive while wearing a beekeeping suit because the veil can hinder your sight.

Many beekeepers find that wearing a suit gives them a sense of security, but by just wearing a beekeeping jacket will provide you with some protection from any possible stings.

  1. If you have an emergency, take the bees out of your car.

If you have an emergency, such as a flat tire, that will require you to stop for a longer time, it would be best if you take the bees out of your car and place them in a shaded area while you work on changing the tire.

It is not good to keep bees in your car if you are not moving, and placing the bees outside will provide them with better ventilation and fresh air.

Conclusion

When transporting bees in a car, you don’t have to feel intimidated unless it is a particularly aggressive colony. Firstly, always ensure that your bees have proper ventilation. To protect the colony and yourself while you drive, always make sure it is tightly secured.

Always have duct tape on hand to close any gaps or seams. While transporting your bees, remember cool spray and when they arrive at their new location, remember to help them reorient so that they won’t attempt to fly back to their old hive location.

Jaco Stander

My name is Jaco Stander. I’m from Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a registered beekeeper with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development in South Africa. Registration number WC808. I live on a small holding where I keep my 16 beehives. Taking care of bees is a very rewarding feeling, contributing to keep our bee colonies growing and thriving, and as a bonus, enjoying that sweet pure raw honey!

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