Friday, June 6, 2014

Brushy Mountain's "Back to Basics" June

Back to the Basics:  Moving Your Hive
Beekeepers will get their hives all setup and painted 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, sometimes it is necessary to move your hive.

Once bees become established in a certain location, they will go on orientation flights. They start off in small circle, flying back to the hive, and grow the circle until they are set on the location of the hive. Moving a hive will disrupt where the bees are oriented to and beekeepers can lose many foraging bees (Beekeepers hate losing bees!). If you intend to move your hive, we suggest following the rule of 3 (up to 3 feet or over 3 miles). If you move a hive across your 10 foot yard, the bees will return to where the hive was originally located.

If you are intending to move your hive, no matter how far, screen off the entrance the night before with hardware cloth. Your foraging bees will come back to the hive at night and will be leaving when the sun comes up. Screen off the entrance at night so you will be transporting all your bees (inevitably there will be a few stragglers left behind). Don't strain when moving your hive, use a hive carrier or a hive strap to make moving easier.

If you intend to move your hive across your yard or a short distance away from its original location, you must move it off site (over 3 miles away) for a week and then move it back to where you find more suitable. If you intend to move it to a separate location for a better/different honey flow, ensure that you are moving it further than 3 miles from its original location.

Honey Frame

Wait... there is another way?
Sometimes it is difficult to continuously move your hive

If your desired location happens to be further than 3 feet and less than 3 miles (a.k.a. across the yard), you can use a different method. 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 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. 

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