Moving Honey Bees

by in Moving honey bees June 11, 2023

Move Honey Bees Late In The Evening, At Night, Or In The Early Morning Hours When Foragers Are Still In The Hive.

There are many reasons why you will need to move bees to a new location. Regardless of the reason(s) you should move honey bees late in the evening, at night, or in the early morning hours when foragers are still in the hive. Proper planning can make this exercise both easy and successful. Try to get your transport as close to the hive(s) as possible to make loading them easier. You will need to seal the hive entrance in order to keep the bees in the hive, but make sure that they have proper ventilation. Below are two popular techniques used in moving honey bees.

Strapping & Confining – this is the easiest method of moving a few honey bee hives at one time. Using a ratchet strap, secure all components of the hive (bottom board, brood chamber, supers, and lid) together. You want to ensure that the hive is secure and does not slip or move during loading, unloading, and transportation.

Placing Hives On Pallets – beekeepers who need to move a large number of honey bee hives usually use pallets for transportation. This is a popular technique utilized mostly by commercial beekeepers, as they can load the pallets directly on to a flatbed truck with a fork lift. Once loaded, they are strapped down and then a net is placed over the entire trailer to confine the bees.

Items That Will Be Helpful In Transporting Honey Bees;

  • Smoker
  • Veil 
  • Gloves and any other PPE (personal protection equipment) that you want
  • Ratchet straps or tie downs
  • Bottom board or pallet
  • Pick up truck, and/or trailer

Setting Up At The New Location

Move the honey bee hives to the new location as soon possible to prevent stress and overheating. Keep in mind that honey bees that are moved less than two miles from their original location may return to the original hive instead of the new hive. When you move them more than two miles, the honey bees will reorient to their new location. If it is daylight when you arrive at the new location simply unstrap the hives, unseal the entrance, and walk away.

Put a branch in front of the entrance so any honey bee leaving the hive notices it. A branch with some leaves is helpful, as they have to fly through the middle of it to return to the entrance. This causes the honey bees to stop, pay attention, and reorient to the new location.

Bo Sterk, Bees Beyond Borders

When honey bees return to their hive they tend to be on “autopilot” and pay no attention to where they are. They just know where they live and are hyper focused on that entrance. By moving honey bees more than two miles, and helping them reorient using the technique mentioned above you should be successful in moving your honey bee colonies. Having more than one person is helpful when practicing this exercise because honey bee hives can be very heavy depending on the time of year. Whether you are creating splits, taking advantage of a nectar flow, providing pollination services, or creating a new apiary, these tips should help you safely move honey bees.


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