When moving a beehive there are a few things you need to remember, be it a short distance across the garden, or a longer journey to a new location. We'll guide you through both scenarios, and there are a few essentials you need to remember.
“Bees tend to be very geo-located to the spot their hive is in. So if you just pick up the hive and move it, the bees will come back and say - Hey, where’s my hive?’”
- Cedar Anderson, Flow Hive inventor
Suit up - Bees can become agitated when their home is moving around, and who can blame them? So it's important that you wear protective gear such as a full bee suit, including gloves and a veil when moving your hive. Even if you've sealed the hive, there's always a chance some bees could find a way out, or there may be stragglers around that won't appreciate your efforts.
Strap up – When moving a beehive, it's important to make sure it all stays together. You can secure the baseboard to the brood box using straps. For long-distance moves, we use a couple of ratchet straps to be safe. For shorter moves, a single strap should be enough.
Shut the door! Or don't – The distance you plan to travel will dictate whether or not you should seal the entrance of your beehive before moving. For moves of less than 10m, we recommend leaving the hive open. Anything longer and you should seal up the entrance. The best time to do this is at night, or very early in the morning while all the bees are inside the hive. This way you will avoid losing any bees that are out foraging. If there are some bees around the entrance to the hive, use your smoker to encourage them back inside gently. There's no need to blow smoke into the hive, but a few puffs around the entrance should be enough to send them inside.
When they're in, you can block up the entrance. We like to use steel wool, which can be pushed into the entrance. You can also cover the entrance with mesh, and secure it with tape or staples. Don't forget to close the roof- the Flow Hive 2 comes with a plug, if you've got the Flow Hive Classic you'll need to block the hole in the inner cover, this can be done easily with some mesh.
Keep it cool – Beehives can heat up very quickly, so ventilation is really important! When sealing your hive before moving it, always make sure that air can circulate. Flow Hives come with inbuilt ventilation control, so ensure that this is open. If you've got a screened baseboard, ventilation is taken care of. If not, you'll want to use mesh, which you can staple or tape over the entrance. Also, be careful not to leave the hive in direct sunlight for too long.
No place like home – Bees are oriented to where their hive is located. When moving a beehive, we want to ensure that the bees will get used to their new home, and not return to their original hive location. The distance you want to move your hive will determine the method you should use. If you're going more than 6km, then the bees won't recognise the new area and are unlikely to return to the old spot. If you're moving a shorter distance than that, you'll have to take the steps we describe below to ensure the bees can find the hive at the new location.
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How to move a bee hive long distances (more than 6km)
First of all, make sure you and the hive are secure – suit up, strap up, shut the door, and keep it cool.
Use a pickup truck or a trailer to transport your bees. Transporting a beehive inside a vehicle is dangerous - if the bees get out you could be in real trouble, so we don't recommend this.
Keep your smoker at hand during transportation.
When placing your hive on the pickup or trailer, make sure it sits nice and level. If you've got a Flow Hive 2or 2+ you may need to adjust the legs to make sure it's well balanced and steady.
Strap the hive on tightly using strong straps. We recommend using ratchet straps as these are really secure.
When you reach the new location, set up your hive, get it level, take off the straps, and open the entrance. The bees will come out and get acquainted with their new home.
How to move a bee hive over a shorter distance (10m - 6km)
Before you start, remember the essential steps – suit up, strap up, shut the door, and keep it cool.
Once the hive is prepared, move it and set it up in the new location. Before opening the hive entrance, put something in front of it. You could hang a towel over the entrance or rest a branch against it. This will help the bees reorient to the new location. As they leave the hive, they will notice that something is different and will be less likely to return to where the hive was originally situated.
Even with this step, it's likely that some bees will return to the original hive location. In this case, you can collect them in a box and bring them to the new place. You may need to do this a few days in a row to get them reoriented. Another option is to do two long-distance moves. Take the bees to a new spot more than 6km away, and leave them there for three weeks. Then move them back and place the hive in the new area, by this time they will have forgotten the original hive location, and should reorient to the new place immediately.
Moving a hive 10m or less
If you want to move the hive less than 10m, it can be done incrementally, day by day. You can move the hive less than 2m per day.
Make sure you suit up and secure the hive with straps, but for this method, you can leave the entrance open.
Initially, the bees will return to the original location, but the hive will be close enough that they will find their way back. Any further and they probably won't locate the hive.
The next day, you can move it another 2m, and carry on until you've got it set up in the new location. Then the bees can settle into their new neighbourhood.
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