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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    San Jose,CA
    Posts
    36

    Default Moving old, but occupied hives

    OK, here is one for you guys. I got a call from a woman who is caring for an elderly man who is now needing full time care. He and the family evidently are trying to "put his affairs in order" I guess. Part of those affairs include moving his hives off the property.

    I went to have a look, and found that they are very tightly propalized for one thing, and the wood does not look particularly solid either. I did manage to pull the hive on the left apart and there are a few frames of bees in there. The taller hive on the right has bees too, and I saw them entering the hive at 7:30 pm. The bottom board is about ready to collapse from the look of it.







    My thought is to separate the hive bodies as best I can, mark them to maintain position for later possible re-assembly, cut some plywood pieces to cover the tops and bottoms of the bodies that contain bees and strap them together. Then I load them up and take them to my yard (my backyard actually). I guess I should do this all in the evening to improve the chances of most of the bees being home.

    There I can better evaluate the condition of the whole mess.

    How does that sound?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Bloomington, IN
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Why take them apart before the move? Then you have more pieces to deal with. Sounds like they are all stuck together now. Depending on distance you just need to block the entrance and go. For short moves I just wrap some duct tape across the opening and put a ratchet strap around the hive top to bottom, hooked back into itself. For a long move on a hot day you need to close the opening with screen. I go at night after everyone is in or early morning before they leave. No suits, no stings. Bring a friend.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Macoupin,Illinois,USA
    Posts
    355

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    sounds like a plan Dodger,except i would wear my veil till entrance was covered,but thats me,i kinda like my vision

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    San Jose,CA
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Makes sense. My first thought was to ratchet strap them, but I got to thinking that it might be safer to separate them, and that they'd be easier to handle. I'll be moving them about 7 or 8 miles in my pickup. As far a the openings go I could just attach a strip of wood across the opening with a couple of deck screws.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    897

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    "My thought is to separate the hive bodies as best I can, mark them to maintain position for later possible re-assembly, cut some plywood pieces to cover the tops and bottoms of the bodies that contain bees and strap them together. Then I load them up and take them to my yard (my backyard actually). I guess I should do this all in the evening to improve the chances of most of the bees being home."

    Brings back memories!!

    I had a very similar siruation a few months ago. The location was such that I had to pull them apart to move - but this would not be my preference.
    You have a pick-up. If they hold together I would wait till all the bees are in. Have a helper to lift them on your truck ( don't close the entrance) and get them home. Make sure you get dressed for ALL possibilities.
    I have found with such old hives that they get stirred up if you do much with them. Closing the entrance is not the problem - I have found that when you open them again they can ve very cranky.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Landing, NJ, USA
    Posts
    198

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Could you find a way to work the bees where they are? It might be some comfort to this man to have them nearby and cared for.
    Bill

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,181

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Do you have access to hive staples? Were it mean, and alone, I'd consolidate the bees into as short a hive as possible making it easier to handle by hand alone. Then I would staple the bottom board to the hive body and nail the inner cover on, duct taping the hole in the inner cover. Then, late in the evening, but not dark, back up to them w/ a pickup truck, pick them up, put them in the bed and drive away. There will be some straglers, some bees spend the night out from time to time. Drive home and park the tgruck as close to where you want the bees and go inside for the night. Deal w/ getting them out of your truck early in the morning when it is just light enough to see.

    Move the unoccupied equipment before moving the bees.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Madison, WI, USA
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    yblocker-

    I think your plan will work well. I moved a very full-of-bees hive this spring to a location 100 miles away and used the technique you are describing, except that for the top plywood I cut a large opening and covered it with window screen for some ventilation. The top plywood was held on with 3/4" screws and the bottom plywood with bungee cords. I have a little 4-wheel wagon (like a miniature hay wagon) that I used to haul the separated hive pieces from the bee yard to my pickup.
    life is finite while knowledge is infinite. - Zhuang Zi

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Orinda, California, USA
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    I think that whole helper thing sounds very suspect. I would definitely do that myself if I were you. Send me pictures when you are done
    Your pal.
    Enchplant

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Papaikou, Hawaii, USA
    Posts
    90

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    I would second the screen idea, over duct tape or boarding it up. i moved mine with hardware cloth stapled over the entrance. Good luck.

    I also like what whiskers said about working with the family to leave the bees there if the gentleman would get some pleasure out of it. You could repair/rehab them and when the time is right move them home, or leave one. He may not care anymore. But its a nice idea in case he still does.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    San Jose,CA
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Enchplant-

    Yes, perhaps you are correct regarding the overall chance of my finding qualified help.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Winhall, VT
    Posts
    1,066

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    I did this twice last year with hives that were older and more rotten than those. After it gets dark use a screen wedge to close the entrance. Ratchet strap the whole hive. Put it on a dolly and rolled it to the back of my truck and laid it down in the bed. Since the comb was so old it was tough enough to handle the horizontal trip of 6 miles. Once in beeyard I put it on a hive stand and opened entrace. Put a branch over entrance to get them to reorient when they fly in the morning. Worked simple. After a few days I started swapping out the old stuff. Easy peasy!
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    San Jose,CA
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Kieth-

    That sounds like the way to go. I have a dolly too, and since the hives are I the backyard, I'll do it the ay you describe.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    San Jose,CA
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    So we managed to get the two populated hives over here along with a couple of medium boxes/frames that are useable. The two box hive was far heavier that the three box stack, but we felt more comfortable strapping them and simply carrying them from the backyard to the truck. I think I'll give them a week to settle in over here, then pull them apart to see what's up. They both have a reasonable amount of activity at the entrance so maybe these will be good strong bees. After all they overwintered with no care at all for a year or more.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    San Jose,CA
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Fast forward 9 months. We went though the hives after a few days, and one double deep had frames in the upper box and no frames in the bottom. That bottom box was a mass of comb. Should have taken pictures I know. We did find a queen, and put her frame and the two or three other frames with bees in a fresh box with frames of older drawn comb I had. The other box was really badly propolized, but we managed to get it apart, and we found that queen too and set her up as well. I extracted about a gallon of honey between the two. Over the following summer 2012, I left them alone, and simply added a box of drawn comb on each hive when it looked like each box had about 7 or 8 frames of bees. That was July or August.

    They seem to be a very strong strain of bees, and I've done no mite treatments or counting. I have been randomly feeding with 1:1 sugar. So now that it's January, I am seeing so much consistent activity from both hives, that I wanted to post a video. I would like to get some opinions on the best way to manage them to reduce the chance of swarming, and get some honey again.

    I was just going to throw another deep on each hive, or just honey supers and not disturb what appear to be successful hives.

    A good friend and member of this board, recommends reversing the deeps now. My question is, whether it might be too early or perhaps at the other end of the strategy scale, not aggressive enough. Maybe we should already be in there creating a split for a nuc or two. I realize it's only January, but around here swarm season can start in February. (By the way "around here" is actually Oakland, CA. not San Jose as it appears on the banner above the first post.)

    In any case I though it would be fun to post the video and show that the neglected bees really seem to be strong.
    Any thoughts on how to best help and preserve them would be welcome.


  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,438

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Nice! Sounds like you ended up with some really good hives, and free at that! Do a couple splits and get some more hives. I'm curious as to how long they have been unattended.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,473

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Have you done a complete inspection lately? If not, it's time to do so if swarm season is coming up soon!

    You are looking for the size of the brood nest, how much capped and open brood you have, the presence of queen cells, and signs that the bees are shutting down brood raising and filling the brood nest with nectar -- the latter would indicate that they are getting ready to swarm.

    Also a good time to check on stores and how much space they are using.

    You may have quite a bit of honey in there if they were busy in the fall -- and if so, swarming is more likely than if you have empty comb!

    Peter

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    708

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    I'd be all about splitting those ladies for some daughter queens.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    San Jose,CA
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Here in Oakland we have been having some very warm sunny weather, so today i went through the weaker of the two hives. It has no stores, no queen and what looks like older capped brood on a couple of frames. The bottom box had no bees and the top had 5 frames worth. So I combined what there was into a single deep, and put a feeder on it.

    I need to check the stronger hive next, and am thinking that if it looks like the stronger one can live without it, that I'd give the weaker hive a frame of eggs if I can find one, and a couple of frames of honey.

    I was going to reverse the stronger hive as a swarm control tactic, but now that the other one needs help, maybe it's better to reduce the population by donating to it from the strong hive? I know it seems early for this kind of thinking but the winter is nearly over here.

    Thoughts?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,583

    Default Re: Moving old, but occupied hives

    Our winter is not over yet. And Spring is not here yet. Feb. is the critical month to see if everything is alright or not into March. If you would like to do anything to your stronger hive, you can wait until Feb. 26th the latest. If the weather not turn bad on March then April should be o.k. for full Spring swing.
    Anything you do to your strong hive better be careful because any cold spell can come up at this time of year. Don't let this innocent warm spell fool us here even though the red plum trees are blooming without any leaves now. This year's weather is a bit crazy. Also, if you really need to do the donation because of no queen then one frame of eggs will do for making a new queen. Hopefully you will have some drones for her when she's ready in March. Or if you can find one, you can buy a new queen like I did but harder and more expensive at this time of year. And keep an eye on the strong hive before swarming time. Hope all goes well for you.

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