All beekeepers should learn how to move a beehive without destroying it so they can maintain their job or hobby even when they must make drastic changes to their life. In this article, we will explore how to move beehives from anywhere between 30 feet to over four miles. You will learn what factors you need to consider each time you make this move and how you can avoid the wrath of the honey bees for disrupting their peace. Absorb as much information as you can and enjoy!
Regardless of how far you plan to move the honey bees, it is wise to wear all the proper protective gear. Honey bees can be easily agitated when they are forcibly moved. Can you blame them? To keep yourself safe from swarms and stings, wear the full bee suit, including the veil and gloves. Even a sealed hive can give honey bees a way out. Stragglers may also stay behind and attack.
You will always want to strap the hive for transportation. Always secure the brood box to the baseboard with straps. It is vitally important that everything stays together during the journey. However, which tools you use to accomplish the task depends heavily on how far you wish to move the hive. When you are moving long distances, you should use several ratchet straps for safety. Shorter distances call for only a single strap.
You Might Need To Strap the Door
Whether or not you seal the hive’s entrance depends largely on your planned distance. If you are moving the hive fewer than 30 feet, you should leave the entrance open. For longer trips, you should seal the entrance.
The best times to seal the hive are either at night or when the honey bees are in the hive early in the morning. You do not want to lose the honey bees that are away foraging. Use your smoker to gently encourage honey bees outside the hive to go back in. Once they are back inside, you should block off the entrance with steel wool or mesh.
Keep the Temperature Cold
As you can imagine, beehives heat up quickly. When transporting hives, ventilation is super important. Before you move your hive, make sure it still has air circulation. Some hives come with built-in ventilation. Hives with screened baseboards also have this issue covered. But for beekeepers without those resources, you can tape or staple mesh over the entrance.
Returning Honey Bees
As a beekeeper, you want to make sure your honey bees get used to their new surroundings. However, they are creatures of habit. Especially if you are moving the hive fewer than four miles, some honey bees will undoubtedly return to their hive’s original spot. For those honey bees, you will have to take steps to make sure they know how to return to the new location. Read on to the section “Moving Short Distances” to learn how beekeepers can go about bringing honey bees back to their new and proper location.
Moving Long Distances
Now that we have explored a few of the basics, it is time to dive into the process of how to move a beehive without destroying it. First, by exploring how to move your brood long distances—which we will define as four miles or more—we can see just how precarious honey bee handling can become.
We already know to suit up, strap up the beehive, close the entrance, and keep the hive cool. But what comes after? For this next step, you will need a pickup truck or a trailer. The goal is to find a vehicle that will allow you to carry the hive without needing to put the hive in the vehicle with you. It can be very dangerous if you are stuck in the car with a beehive. You should also keep a smoker by your hand during the whole trip.
When you pack your hive, take special care to ensure the hive is level. With strong straps, tightly prepare the hive for the journey. Ratchet straps help if you want to make it really secure.
Upon entering the new location, set up your hive so it is level, remove the straps, and open up the entrance. Watch as the honey bees get to know their new home.
Moving Short Distances
Again, before you begin moving the hive between 30 feet and four miles, make sure you complete all these essentials—suit up, get the straps in order, shut the door, and keep the hive cool. Then, move it to a new location.
Once you set the hive down on a level surface, you can open the hive entrance. Make sure you put something in front of the entrance before you open it. This could be a towel or a branch. You want to signal to the honey bees that they have moved locations. By giving them something new to catch their attention, they will be less likely to go back to the original spot.
However, even if you work to keep them close to the new hive, there is a good chance a few will fly back to where their hive originally lay. If that happens, you should collect them in a box and bring them to your new location. You may need to go through this process multiple times before the honey bees get the idea.
Alternatively, you can reorient your honey bees to a new location by making them forget about their original home. Simply move the hive more than four miles away, keep the honey bees there for about three weeks, and then bring them back to the new area. They will have forgotten entirely about the original hive location and reorient themselves to the new place, never realizing that it is only a short distance from the original spot.
Moving Shorter Distances
The best way to transport a hive fewer than 30 feet away from its current location is to move it incrementally. Returning to the hive each day, you can move it six feet toward the new spot each visit. While the honey bees may return to their original location, the hive will remain close enough that they can find their way back. Though you will have to suit up and add the straps for each move, you can leave the entrance open.
Beekeeping is an endlessly fascinating hobby. If you want to give it a try, visit The B Farm to see VSH bees for sale.