Hi I'm a second seson bee keeper. It 's been a poor honey year in up state N.Y. I am considering taking my bees south for the winter.I have a friend in Sufolk VA. just west of Virgina Beach. I have 20 hives at present , Half are wild hives removed from barns and homes. Now for the questions 1: Is the milder winter and longer growing season worth the move?
2: Is there any active pollen and nector in VA. in the fall late sept on?
3: Am I better off travleing at night,cooler temps?
4: On long trips like that do I cover the hives with a tarp or just leave them un covered to provent overheating?
I live in the snowy Cascade Mountains.First frost usually is a couple weeks away.If you are in a bad wintering area,you wont believe how much better your bees will look in the spring by getting them to a milder climate.I would never try to winter bees here again.I have been moving bees for more than 25 years to milder places for the winter.You can haul them in a pickup at night.Make sure you have a good way to rope them down and learn to tie a truckers hitch.In Cal. we never close up the entrance for moving.That panics the bees and restricts ventilation.just make sure you have enough fuel to get there without stopping for more.In the West everyone moves bees around on flatbeds,so the hives are designed for best efficiency in loading .No frills.Plenty of adventure guaranteed!
Last year our winter was not mild. It is nothing like NY's I'm sure but not the usual for here. This is my second year as well and I'm not sure of the abundance of our fall nectar and pollen. Goldenrod is available I know.
One caution would be the small hive beetle. They are in VA now (Southeastern VA) and that might be a consideration to take into account bringing hives here and then taking them away again.
>1: Is the milder winter and longer growing season worth the move?
Financially, I doubt it will pay for the gas and the time you spend, but it might help the bees some.
>3: Am I better off travleing at night,cooler temps?
>4: On long trips like that do I cover the hives with a tarp or just leave them un covered to provent overheating?
Never cover them with a tarp, but you might use a net. You can buy nets for that purpose and some states require them when moving bees. You can put Screened bottom boards on and set them up so the air can get to them. You can make or buy screen doors that provide more ventilation from Brushy Mt. and you can screen over the hole on the inner cover and leave the lids off, it isn't raining.
You might also check into the laws on transporting bees in each of the states you will be passing through. Some require a health certificate from the state bee inspector.
I live in Suffolk, VA and I'm also a second year beekeeper. The winters here are generally pretty mild, there are exceptions, but we rarely get any snow to speak of and temps are usually above freezing. A previous post warning about the small hive beetle should be taken very seriously! The Suffolk area is particularly bad with SHB. The state has infected hives quarantined so if you move your hives here and they become infected with SHB (pretty much a sure thing) then you will not legally be able to move them outside they're current location. Besides, I'm sure your friends from NY wouldn't appreciate you bringing them some unwanted visitors. Of course if you simply plan to keep your bees here permanently then SHB is really not a huge issue.
Regarding fall nectar sources, well it depends on where your hives are located. Typically the cotton blooms late summer (right now is its peak), but can be a mixed blessing regarding pesticides. Also, soybeans are blooming right now, but I'm not too sure how much my bees are working them (the cotton is very attractive to them). Some people are growing buckwheat and are getting three blooms with our extended season. I've never noticed a big goldenrod flow, at least not in my area of Suffolk.
Good luck and feel free to contact me with any questions.