A friend recently told me she wanted to move her beehive across the yard, about 10 feet from its spot. As incredibly smart as bees are, they can’t find their hive if you move it to a different place in the same bee yard. They will return to the old location, circle in a confused cloud, and perish overnight while their home is sitting, literally, feet away.
So if you want to move your hive, you have to shift it less than a foot a day, to let the bees acclimate, until you have your hive where you want.
You move it miles away.
The bees will sense they are in unfamiliar turf, make short exploratory flights until they orient themselves and then settle in to their new zip code.
So, how do you move a live hive of bees?
Carefully. You need ratchet tie-downs to secure the hive boxes. You need to staple mesh over the hive entrance to keep the bees inside during transport. And you should move it either before dawn, before the bees wake, or late after sundown when they have returned from foraging in the sunlight. That way you won’t strand thousands of bees while they are out collecting nectar and pollen.
Put the hive in a truck bed, tie it down again, and drive like there are infinite tomorrows. Make ’em honk!
Today some friends and I relocated a hive to Connecticut Friendship Garden in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood. Happy to report my bee operation, and my heart, are both expanding.
Welcome to your new home! Here is video of the bees checking the place out:
4 thoughts on “Relocating a Beehive”
Michael Bush claims to circumvent the usual “2 feet or 2 miles” rule by just moving the hive to wherever it needs to be and placing a leafy branch or similar obstacle right up against the entrance. The theory is that it prevents the forager from simply shooting out about her business without a backwards glance to notice that home is not where it was. Her attention having been gotten she re-orients.
Lovely idea; thanks for the tip, it will come in handy
I moved mine across the yard and they found their way home. Bees can be moved under the right conditions. Numerous other blogs and articles were available to read, thankfully. Give the bees a little more credit, they are able to find their way, so long as they’re not caught in the elements.