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Whidbey Island Washington Beekeeping & Honeybees - Lavender Honey - Green Road Farm - Tim Walsh

Moving bees to a new location

**Note: This method involves moving bees at night. Bees are very protective of their hive after dark. They are very determined to get you to go away. There is not more buzzing, there is less. They crawl all over you looking for a place to sting. I have had never been stung in 7 years of beekeeping, but moving bees with a suit on, was the only time I have ever been stung….3 times! One crawled up my leg, one stung me through my sleeve and one stung me through the suit on my collar bone.

That said, you will read how it is easy to move bees 4 miles or 2 feet but not intermediate distances, like a hundred yard. Well it can be done quite successfully.

The basic idea: Wait until dark, when the bees have returned from foraging and move the hive, super by super to the new location. Once you have them stacked at the new location you place objects in front of the hive openings to stimulate them to reorient themselves to the new location.

Materials used: 4 pieces of plywood (you can also use anything that will cover the tops of the supers), smoker, a  wheelbarrow and random objects (grass, twigs, branches etc.)

The process:

1 – Prepared the new location by mowing, putting cinder blocks in where I will place each hive and put a piece of plywood down on the ground next to the new location. You will place the supers here as you move them.

2 – Waited well into dusk until the numbers of bees flying in from the fields were non existent or very minimal. ** (wear a suit!)

3 – Place a piece of plywood across the wheelbarrow so that you can lay a super on top of it.

4- Smoke the hive with a few puffs of smoke.

5 – Close off all entrances to the hive with something that will not dislodge.

6 –  Remove the hive cover and smoke the bees down into the super.

7 – Take that super off and place it on a piece of plywood that is sitting on the wheel barrow and cover so that it is now sealed top and bottom.

8 – Move it to the new location and place it on the plywood you already had there.

9 – Repeat until you have the brood chamber (I picked up the brood chamber and the bottom board at the same time). Go to the new location and place it on the cinder blocks (or base).

10 – Place all of the supers on top of the brood chamber.

11 – IMPORTANT: Place grass, leaves, twigs, branches…anything in front of the openings (but not covering the opening). When the bees come out in the new location they will notice the change in their environment and (hopefully) begin reorientation. When bees orientate they fly in ever increasing circles creating a mental map of their environment.

12 – Leave the hive this way until the morning and then remove the things you blocked the openings with but leaving the twigs and foreign objects in place.

I moved 4 hives this way and the next day there were a hundred bees or so flying around the old location. They seemed to be flying to the old location and then circling around, some landed on a nearby branch, and then by dusk they were all at the new location.

I left the foreign objects in front of the hive for a week and the cleared the entrances.

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