Are you contemplating moving your beehive? Whether it’s a short hop or a long haul, the task can seem daunting. But fear not! With the right knowledge and preparation, you can relocate your hive smoothly and safely. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of beehive relocation!
Relocating a beehive is not just about picking it up and moving it. It involves careful consideration of factors like distance, time of day, landmarks, and the tools at your disposal. A misstep can put your buzzing buddies at risk, so it’s crucial to get it right!
Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! With the honey bee population dwindling at an alarming rate, it’s more important than ever to ensure the safe and careful relocation of your hives. Let’s ensure our winged friends continue to thrive!
Relocating a Beehive: What You’ll Need
- Screen or mesh
- Duct tape
- Cushioning for the journey (if transportation is needed)
- Spray bottle filled with clean, fresh water
- Carpenter’s level
Preparing for the Move
Before you can embark on the hive relocation journey, it’s crucial to prepare thoroughly. Let’s go through a checklist of things you need to do before moving your hive:
- Suit up. Bees can get quite agitated when their home is being moved. To protect yourself from potential stings, don your full beekeeping suit, including gloves and veil.
Remember, even a sealed hive might have some escapees or stragglers who won’t take kindly to your relocation efforts.
- Strap up. Ensuring your beehive stays intact during the move is paramount. Secure the baseboard to the brood box using straps or ropes. For long-distance moves, consider using ratchet straps for added security. For shorter distances, a single strap should suffice.
- To seal or not to seal? The distance of your move will dictate whether you should seal the hive entrance. For moves less than 30 feet, leave the hive open. For anything further, it’s best to seal up the entrance.
The ideal time to seal your hive is at night or early in the morning when all your bees are inside. This way, you won’t lose any bees that might be out foraging. If there are bees around the hive entrance, use your smoker to gently coax them back inside. Once all bees are in, you can block the entrance with mesh and secure it with tape or staples.
- Keep your cool. Hives can heat up quickly, so proper ventilation is crucial. When sealing your hive, ensure there’s adequate air circulation. If your hive has built-in ventilation control, make sure it’s open. If not, use mesh to cover the hive entrance. Also, avoid leaving the hive in direct sunlight for extended periods.
- Home is where the hive is. Bees are incredibly oriented to their hive’s location. When moving a beehive, it’s important to help your bees acclimate to their new home and not return to their original location.
The distance of your move will determine the best method to ensure your bees can find their new home. For moves over 4 miles, the bees won’t recognize the area and are unlikely to return to their old spot. For shorter moves, you’ll need to take additional steps to help the bees find their new home.
Once you’ve ticked off all these preparation steps, you’re ready to start the hive relocation process!
Moving a Beehive: Long-Distance Moves (Over 4 Miles)
- Firstly, ensure both you and the hive are secure. Suit up, strap up, seal the entrance, and stay calm.
- Use a pickup truck or trailer for safe transportation. Transporting a beehive inside a vehicle can be risky. If the bees escape, you could be in a sticky situation!
- Keep your smoker handy during transportation in case your bees become stressed and aggressive.
- When placing your hive on the vehicle, ensure it’s as level as possible. Some hives have adjustable legs for stability.
- Secure the hive tightly using strong straps. Ratchet straps are recommended for their superior security.
- Once you’ve reached the new location, set up your hive, level it, gently remove the straps, and open the entrance. Your bees will then emerge and familiarize themselves with their new home!
Moving a Beehive: Short-Distance Moves (30 Feet – 4 Miles)
- As always, start by suiting up, strapping up, sealing the entrance, and staying calm.
- Once your hive is ready, move it to the new location. Before opening the entrance, place an object in front of it, like a towel or branch. This will help your bees reorient to their new location.
As the bees leave the hive, they’ll notice the change and are less likely to return to the original location. However, some bees may still return to the old spot. If this happens, collect them in a box and transport them to the new location. You may need to repeat this process for several days until all bees have reoriented. Alternatively, you can make two long-distance moves: move the hive more than 4 miles away for three weeks, then move it back to the new location. By then, the bees should have forgotten their old home and will reorient to the new location immediately!
Moving a Beehive: Very Short Moves (Less Than 30 Feet)
- If you’re moving the hive less than 30 feet, you can do it incrementally, moving the hive up to 6 feet per day.
- As always, suit up and secure the hive with straps. In this case, you can leave the entrance open.
- Initially, your bees will return to the original location, but they’ll eventually find their way back to the hive. Any further, and they might not be able to locate their hive.
- Continue moving the hive 6 feet each day until it’s in the new location. Your bees will gradually adjust to their new surroundings.
What Not to Do When Moving a Beehive
Now that you know what to do when moving a beehive, let’s look at some common pitfalls to avoid:
- Avoid moving bees during the day! The best times are before sunrise or after sunset when bees are less active and all are inside the hive. Moving during the day can result in the loss of foraging worker bees. However, a cool, windy, or rainy day can allow for daytime relocation.
- Don’t move bees on warm/hot days! A temperature range between 7°C and 16°C is ideal. On hot days, bees need to find water at their new location, and they need a lot of it!
- Don’t forget the water! Once the hives are at their new location, spray a water mist around the entrance before opening it. This will provide immediate hydration for your bees.
- Avoid using anything other than duct tape and flywire screens to seal your hive. Before moving the hive, ensure that no bees can escape during transport. You can use duct tape to seal the entrance if the hive is well ventilated and the weather is cool. Otherwise, use flywire screens.
- Don’t place your hive directly on the ground. Use a hive stand to elevate the hive and protect it from ground moisture. This helps preserve the wood and improves air circulation around the hive.
- Don’t place your hive on a level location. Ensure the hive is tilted forward at the new location. This allows any water that gets into the hive to run out of the entrance, preventing flooding and potential drowning of the bees.
Understanding Bee Reorientation
Bees reorient themselves under certain circumstances, such as when their hive is moved. If bees are confined in their hive for more than 72 hours, they typically reorient themselves. This is a natural response to unusual circumstances, and we can use this behavior to our advantage when moving hives.