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    Back to the Basics

    Welcome to the Back to Basics Blog where we go over some of the basic steps a beekeeper should take in getting the most out of their hives.

    Beekeepers will get their hives setup, painted and positioned in a certain location, but sometimes it is not the desired location, or they want to move their bees to a different area with a better honey flow. Either way, transporting your hive may be a necessity.

    Once bees become established in a certain location, they will go on orientation flights. They start off in small circles, flying back to the hive, and continue to grow the travel radius until they are set on the location of the hive. Moving a hive after the bees are orientated to the location will displace many foraging bees as they return to the original hive location. We suggest following the Rule of Three if you intend to move your hive. This limits moving the hive within 3 feet or further than 3 miles. Anything in between will result in lost foraging bees navigating to the original hive location.

    Moving your hive across your yard or a short distance away from its original location requires you to move it off site (over 3 miles away) for a week, then return it back to a more suitable location, or in small increments (less than 3 feet a day) over a period of time. Ensure that you are moving it further than 3 miles from its original location if transitioning locations for a better/different honey flow. Moving greater than 3 miles disrupts the scenery and prompts the bees to reacquaint themselves with the hive's new position.

    Here are some tips to remember when transporting:

    • Screen off the entrance the night before no matter how far you intend to move your hive. Your foraging bees will return to the hive at night and leave when the sun rises. Screening off all entrances at night allows you to transport your entire colony the following day. Wear your protective equipment because inevitably some returning bees will not be enclosed in the hive.

    • Having a hive break apart in transit and thousands of upset girls showing their displeasure is never fun. Use hive straps or hive staples to secure the boxes together.

    • Moving a hive can be a heavy task and doing it on your own can lead to pulled muscles or strained back. Utilize a lift or team up with someone using a hive carrier to transport your colonies.

    It can be difficult to transport your hive off site for a week and return to a new location. An alternate method can be used if your desired location happens to be further than 3 feet but less than 3 miles (a.k.a. across the yard). To trigger the bee's orientation flight, the environment outside of the hive must be significantly different. Obstruct or impede the entrance to the hive with brush (grass, tree branches, straw, etc.) so that when the foraging bees leave the hive, they must crawl through the "brush" before they can fly. After a day, remove part of the brush and continue this process until all the brush is removed after three days. They will see the disturbance in the environment and reorient themselves.

    It is always best to leave the hive in its initial location. Moving the hive will hinder the bee's production for days and cause stress within the colony. Also note that 10% of queens are lost when moving a hive. Set up the hive in an ideal location that will suit their needs as well as yours.