View Full Version : How to move a beehive

11-26-2009, 03:34 PM
I need to move three hives about 200 feet. Their current location has become very shady and disease prone. I understand that if I outright move the hives, the bees that exit the hive may return to the old location rather then the new one. How shall I accomplish moving them?


Randall Clark
11-26-2009, 05:08 PM
I don't know if this would work, but I asked this same question to an old timer just the other day and he stated that during the evening, close up the hive and haul it around a few miles, making lots of different turns, then set it up in your new location. he also suggested that blocking the entrance with a small board that had an exit at each corner where the bees had to make a turn when they left the hive would cause them to re-orient themselves to the hive location. If it is not possible to load the hive and haul it around, I would try just carting it around your yard while making lots of turns and using the exit board trick. That is what I plan to do.

11-26-2009, 06:40 PM
I don't think carting the hive around the yard or taking them for a drive and making lots of turns will solve your problem. Wait for a time when it will be below flying weather(40 deg F) for a week and move them then. The best thing is to move them to a location 2 or more miles away for a couple weeks then bring them back to where you want them. I've also heard that just moving them to the new location(200ft away) and piling some brush in front of the hive will cause them to reorientate. Move them and leave a empty box(no comb) in the original location. If the next day they fly and go to the empty box then it did not work.

Brent Bean
11-27-2009, 07:02 AM
I recently moved four very strong three deep hives about three hundred yards. This is a good time of year to do so. I watched the weather report an selected a period of time when it would be raining and cold for at least four days, night time lows in the lower 40ís and day time high also in the 40ís.
The night before the move, I confined the bees. The next morning I strapped them down and loaded them on a trailer and moved them to the new location.
On the early morning of day five just before sunrise, I released them. The temperatures on day six went back into the high sixties to low seventies. I observed no bees flying around the old location.
Also in the old location the hives faced south east the new location they face due south.

Barry Digman
11-27-2009, 11:00 AM
You could move the hives to a location several miles away for a few days, then take them back to the target location. I think that if they're clustering and not flying during the day that breaking that cluster up this time of year could be dicey.

11-27-2009, 10:10 PM
Randall Clark this is best bee joke of the year. You can put a hive on a lazy susen and let them spin for a few hours till your bees getting dizzy.

Barry Digman has the right answer.

Brent Bean
11-28-2009, 05:56 AM
Wait a minute Axtmann! There are more than one way to skin a cat. You can use Barry Dís method if you want to move them twice and have a place several miles away to leave them. Or you can use Michael Bushes method by placing an obstacle in front of the hive which causes them to re-orientate, I have also used this method with a success. Or you could use the method I mentioned above. All work.
I as of yet havenít used Randall Clarkís method but it has merit. :)

11-28-2009, 06:06 AM
Brent's method is what I did last fall. I had the typical problem of wanting to move them from one side of the yard to the other. I waited until the fall and buttoned them up at night. Moved them after dark. Left them buttoned up all the next day. Finally opened them up the day after....in the rain. The hives faced a different direction and I also put an old lawn chair right in front of the entrances. No problems at all.

I just turned the heat on in my shop. I'm dying to build a big turntable...just for fun! :D

Michael Bush
11-28-2009, 04:16 PM
I'd move them early on a day expected to be warm, preferably after they were confined by cold for a few days.


11-29-2009, 06:46 AM
Thank you so much guys! It doesn't sound nearly as intimidating as it used to. I really appreciate your thoughts, and I'll post again with my report after the hives are moved!
Thanks Again,

Randall Clark
11-30-2009, 10:33 AM
OK, I think this is a subject that merits a lot of discussion, as moving a hive is something that most beekeepers do at one time or another. I am new to this and my advice came from a beek with over 25 years of experience, so I think his experience makes it have some merit.
Since many of you enjoy debate type topics, I would like to delve into this a little deeper and see what gets said. As a new beekeeper, I have pondered the question of how do the bees know if they have been moved 10 miles or 100 feet? There has to be something that "Triggers" the bees to re-orientate, it seems to me. We know that by simply turning a hive a different direction or moving it up, down or to the left or right a foot or less causes them to be confused when they return to the hive, right? So, what triggers them to have an instinct to re-orientate when they are moved? Whether the bees have been moved several miles or only several feet, they only know their home has been bounced around. I'm not advocating that spinning a hive on a lazy-susan would do anything other than make them dizzy. But...... by jostling the hive around and carting the hive around the yard while making a few turns here and there, along with placing a wood block that would force them to LEAVE the hive for the FIRST time after being moved, by a different exit route seems like it could just work, without all the hassle of hauling them several miles to a new location for several days. To me, what makes this plausable is the fact that if a hive is moved several miles to a different location, what causes them to re-orientate? What causes them from just flying out of the hive like normal and then getting totally lost? What caused them to re-orientate at the new location? I think in part, that being confined to the hive for a few days... as well as the sense of movement has something to do with it. Just like M Bush said about putting limbs or some type of obstacle in front of the hive that is different for the bees. Something has to cause the bees to re-orientate. Why not the sense of movement and being jostled around? My Dad was a hobbyist beekeeper and he told me that he has moved hives to different spots in his yard that were less than 100 feet from the original location without doing anything other than just moving them in the evening after they stopped flying and were all back in the hive.
Anyway....... for you deep thinkers out there, Please relate any and all experiences and thoughts. We might all just end up learning something new.

Michael Bush
11-30-2009, 06:17 PM
Many of the old beekeepers like C.C. Miller etc. advice banging them around to get them to reorient. Yes, you are right, a sense that things have moved triggers it, as does confinement for a period of 72 hours (even a little while triggers some, but 72 seems to be the peak), as does any obstruction that forces them to take notice that something has changed.

01-03-2012, 07:29 PM
I agree.. a lazy susan or driving around in circles isn't going to do anything. Not unless you blindfold the bees first. MB always has a good answer. I wait for cold weather, or if you are expecting rain for a few days and can't wait until it gets cold. I just moved one of my hives from the yard to the roof. They went up three flights of stairs, and a ladder. So maybe that may be considered turns. I think if bees can orient food, based on the position of the sun, then convey that with a dance, while accounting for the change in position of the sun due to the passing of time; then turns aren't going to confuse your girls. You can always put an empty super in the old spot. If they return, close up the super and lay some paper on the top super of the new location. Leave them a frame of honey and lock them in the super for another day or 2. If that doesn't work go with the blindfolds.

DC Bees
01-03-2012, 08:17 PM
I seem to recall reading some where that the bees memory lasts about three days or so.Wish mine lasted that long.

Daniel Y
01-04-2012, 06:33 AM
A few things I have read indicate some possabilities.
A short distance does not effect the bees but a long distance does. This indicates to me.
1. the bees have some global positioning ability. or
2. they are keyed on on the landmarks near their hive. For example what the view looks like as they exit the hive.

This means that movement of the hive must be enough to disrupt whatever they are keyed in on that the hive is still in the same place.

I have read where moving the hive a short distance but then placing something in front of it will cause bees to re orient also. this support the general thought #2.

Finally bees have short memories so if they are not flying for 72 hours (that is what I have read) they will re orient even if the hive has not been moved.

This thread is the first I have ever heard mention of just bouncing the hive. It might be interesting to know if that does have any effect but I don't think the bees have enough of a brain to reason that movement means moving.

01-04-2012, 06:40 AM
I just move em on a cold morning. I think sometimes we over think stuff on here. just my 2cents.

01-04-2012, 07:25 AM
Here a thought or MHO
The bees have a general GPS on location and a pinpoint/land mark locater to the hive
So when they take off and hit the fields the general GPS brings them home to bee yard
Then the pinpoint/land marks, kicks in and the bee aligns it self for a home run to the entrance
Ta Da !!!


01-04-2012, 07:30 AM
I think smells and such also have something to do with orientation.

01-04-2012, 05:38 PM
Your right. After I do a invasive inspection my bees are in my face for a few days. Now I leave them along for 3 days, and they have forgotton my intrusion.

01-04-2012, 09:52 PM
Here a thought or MHO
The bees have a general GPS on location and a pinpoint/land mark locater to the hive
So when they take off and hit the fields the general GPS brings them home to bee yard
Then the pinpoint/land marks, kicks in and the bee aligns it self for a home run to the entrance
Ta Da !!!


This has been also my experience. If you move them only 100 m some of the markers are the same. If you move them 6 km - all is new. I have done it both ways. In the case of a relatively short move I place a branch or other hinderrance in front of the hive and it seems to work fairly well.
Some bees will go back to the location where the previous entrance was. If there is no landing possibility they will stay in mid-air for hours. If there is a landing possibility they will cluster and can be picked up and returned to the new location.

01-05-2012, 04:16 AM
They can remember longer than three days. I have moved hives away for three weeks & still had a few buzzing around the old hive site. Probably old field bees. Yanta