The first week of July I had a huge swarm move into a box that I was painting under a car port behind my home. I let them alone for a few days and put a top feeder on with a gallon and a half of syrup to get them started. I waited until the day before yesterday to let them build some brood before trying to move them to my small yard 200 feet away at the back of the lot. I was thinking about the 2 feet or 2 miles rule I kept seeing but moving 2 feet every three or four days would have taken forever to go 200 feet and I had no place to move them 2 miles so looking through some old posts on moving bees I found several where different folks claimed to have moved them from 10 feet to several hundred yards with no problems of the bees returning to the original spot or at least with only a handful coming back. Well I said to myself these folks actually did it so it must be ok. I screened the entrance and moved them at night with no problem what so ever or so I thought. Yesterday morning I got up a bit late, the sun was shining and it looked like an overall beautiful day until I stepped out the back door. There under the car port was a mob of hundreds of highly agitated bees looking for their old home. I quickly got an empty hive body and placed it where their old home was and they began to file into it. I watched a minute thinking what the heck am I going to do now. In that short time I was stung several times so I beat feet for the back door. Every time I came out to look another angry bee would find me a give me a painful greeting. After a half dozen stings I decided to watch from a Little farther back, they found me anyway. They were in a stinging mood all day long. Anyway I went out this morning hoping they had all left and when back to the new location. No such luck as I saw several poking their heads out of the entrance. It's raining pretty good today so I don't know how many are still it the trap box so I'll wait until tomorrow to mess with them.
The moral of the story I guess is be a bit scepticall when a few people suggest that maybe the 2 FEET or 2 MILES rule for moving can be ignored.
Last edited by Romahawk; 08-02-2008 at 03:36 PM.
at night or evening, move the box from the old location back to the new one, shake bees out in front of entrance if it is an empty box or if it has frames add on top... you may have to do this for 3 or more days.
but a bunch of branches in front of the entrance of the new hive location to trigger reorientation.
you will still have lots of confused bees (at the old spot) but usually by night they find it back to somewhere (either the box at the old spot or the new location)
I probably will not try to take the trap box back and shake it out tonight. They were pretty sassy yesterday and I don't think this rainy day did much to sweeten their disposition.
If it's still raining tomorrow I'll go ahead and suit up and take the trap box out and dump it. Next time this kind of thing happens it will be the 2 mile move for sure.
I have bottom board entrances on my hives. To move them a short distance, I use a 1x2 laid across in front from side to side of the entrance giving a 3/8 to 1/2 inch gap between the 1x2 and the front side of the hive. That seems to work fairly well, the bees notice the different entrance obstruction when leaving the hive which causes them to re-orient. Some of them still forget about that on the field trip return back to the hive and go to the old location, but not so many as what you just experienced, it does seem to work fairly well.
I've never had to do this, but I had two thoughts that you might find helpful.
One is to take the box from the carport and shake them out at the new location each evening just before dark. This way they will have some light to find their way back, but not enough light left that they are tempted to go forage again. I would think the number should drop each day for 3-5 days.
I had thought of a chunk of chainlink fence leaned over the entrance. This would be rather longer lasting, but not too much of a barrier for the bees to fly through, but enough to take notice and reorient.
Just a quick update and thanks for the suggestions. After dumping the 5 frame nuke box I used as a trap several times yesterday and then taking the last box at night and leaning it up against the entrance to the hive I had moved out back all seems to be ok today. I put the nuke box out at the old site again this morning but there were only a dozen or so bees around it so tomorrow I think I will not put anything there. My main concern on that first morning was when they were stinging like crazy that they would go to the neighbors and initiate them into the world of beekeeping but that didn't happen. They stayed pretty well confined with their flying and stinging to the site of the old box. So I guess as some on here said maybe you can violate the 2 foot 2 mile rule and get away with it with out a lot of problems. All is well that turns out well.