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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Dickens County, TX, USA
    Posts
    62

    Question Moving hive in winter?

    If a bee's memory is 3 days, can you move the hive a few hundred yards in the winter when temps have been below 50 for several days?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    Yes. If its cold enough to keep them from flying for 3 days (close up the hive just to be sure though), you should be able to safely move them wherever you want.

    I plan on doing the same thing this winter myself.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
    Posts
    419

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    I had a hive to move but I didn't want to wait until it got cold. My concern was the vibration, bumps, hopefully not drops of the hive would break their cluster, and it would be to cold for them to recluster, but I guess that depends on how cold it is.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,961

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    I think that they 3 day rule is a myth. I moved some nucs one year during the middle of winter and rain and cold kept them inside for a month or more. On the first nice day all of the flyers were back at the old location.
    Bruce

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Palmyra, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    go ahead and move them now, just be sure to put something in front of the entrance (limb with a few leaves , ornamental grass )they will reorient pretty quick .
    I just moved 6 hives, placed a couple sprigs of ornamental grass in front of the entrances.
    worried it would not work, I put nucs in the old locations came home the next eve. and there was bees at all of the nucs . I thought that I messed up.
    went back at dark there was max 3 bees in a couple of the nucs.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    Move them now, and put a branch in front of the entrance to re-orient. Dropping or jostling a box of cold and irritated bees is not fun.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Dickens County, TX, USA
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    Does a branch in front of the entrance really cause them to reorient? Anybody know why?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    1,238

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    >I think that they 3 day rule is a myth. I moved some nucs one year during the middle of winter and rain and cold kept them inside for a month or more. On the first nice day all of the flyers were back at the old location.

    I agree some will return to old location.

    >Does a branch in front of the entrance really cause them to reorient? Anybody know why?

    Even with a branch some don’t reorient

    >So is the 3 feet or 3 miles thing just outdated

    it's 2 feet or two miles, it works fine, one mile works too with just a few that don't figure it out.

    I use allot of branches and sticks, forcing every bee to work around your obstacle. I also put a empty hive in the old spot, collect the bees that didn’t figurer it out.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    I have done moves in the winter like described. I can also assure the 3 day rule is a myth. I have moved them after having been locked up due to weather for a week or more and foragers still return to the old spot. Not many, but they were there. Bees are a lot smarter than people give them credit for. Something else to keep in mind - if you are in a very hilly area, bees do not like to fly up or around tall hills or obstacles. They tend to stay in easy to fly areas. I moved a hive once less than 1/4 mile to the otherside of the hill (really a small mountain) and none returned to the old spot.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Paw Paw, SW Lower Michigan
    Posts
    125

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    I moved a hive 100 feet early this spring before the bees were flying and placed an old wooden sled with steel runners in front of the hive to force them to reorient. They were stuck indoors for a week due to cold weather. When they started to fly only a handful went back to the old location.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Dickens County, TX, USA
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    I moved a hive about 1000 feet this spring. I filled up the entrance with grass and changed from a top entrance to a bottom entrance. Hundreds of bees went back to the old location. I put a box at the old location and moved it at night on top of the original in the new location. I did this several times with the same result. The bees went back to the old location. I finally gave up on them. They built up to a strong hive in the new location, but I lost a bunch of bees.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    1,106

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    I established a new nuc recently. I had to move it due to robbing from the donor hive. I moved it to a new location about 100 ft NE of the donor hive, with a small fence around it and a couple of prominent bushes adjacent to it, and perhaps more importantly facing south instead of east. I was quite surprised when the bees stuck with their new location and showed no tendency to drift back to the donor hive.

    The 90 degree change of entrance is used in Snelgrove board strategies.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    i have 3 hives... 2 at an acreage and 1 in the city (30 miles from the acreage). I was wondering if its best to move the hive from the city out to the acreage to winter them all together on the same pallet and move the hive back to the city in the spring.... or just let them stay where they are and buy a single winter wrap... (Saskatchewan/Canada... pretty cold winters). Any advice on buying single wraps? (2 deep boxes) thanks

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    713

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    Moving hive issues were the central theme of my first year at beekeeping.

    I moved the hives out of my barn walls into boxes suspended on ropes near where their wall-cavity-openings were.

    Then I had to move them down to platforms nailed on the side of the building and finally, down to the ground.

    Once they were established I needed to move them to a better place on my farm about 500 feet away.

    I tried Michael Bush's' method on my strongest colony first (see his writing for the detailed description for how to do it). As a test, I moved that hive about 200 feet. I followed his instructions to the letter. I blockaded the entrance to prompt re-orienation. It took three days for all the bees to get the hang of it. I put a left-behind box out for them, every lateafternoon during that period. I was elated with the method's success, despite all my local beeks claiming you had to move them three miles for three weeks.

    A week or so later I tried it again with my two other hives. I did exactly the same thing but the results were far different. One hive eventually got it after an extended period of confusion. The other, on the first night in the new location, abandonned the hive and the bees began to walk back to the old location, in a tearing thunderstorm. In desperation I reversed the move in the dark and rain and returned the box to the old stand. More than half the bees perished in the mayhem. But not apprently the queen - I either scooped her up with the mass of walking bees, or she hadn't left the hive.

    The end result was that I had three hives scatttered about my farm , with two in the middle of the driveway, which because I am in northern NY wouldn't work because the need to plow snow.

    I mulled over the situation for a few months and finally decided to move them in early December, after a brief warm spell followed by a cold front, when I knew that the temps were going to stay down for awhile. I was hoping to keep them inside in cold enough temps to make them uninterested in flying for a week or so, which I thought would do the trick, for sure. They had a lovely flight day on a 65F Thursday. The front was approaching on Friday morning, in the early afternoon we moved them by strapping them together and lifting them with bucket of the tractor, carrying them one by one to their new stand.

    Here's a picture of that in process:Attachment 13562

    We traveled backwards because it was our lowest gear and despite hard frozen and bumpy ground, the lift was gentle, the ride smooth and the landing light as swansdown. (Hint: Close the bees in the night before, securely, so none can escape. Strap the hives together with one pair of ratchet straps, and attached another set to do the actually list. This prevents any mechanical stress imposed by the lift process from shifting the boxes.)

    I had worried that any jarring would break the cluster apart and that they would be unable to re-form it in cold weather. My plan to handle that (besides trying to be very gentle) was to have microwaveable gel packs ( the kind used as first-aid-type supply) on hand that I could slip in under the SBB through the varroa monitoring slot to add some modest warmth during the first night. A mechanics' inspection mirror looking upwards through the front entrance and an infrared heat detector device revealed that the cluster stayed intact, so the pads were unneeded in the end. I did wrap the hives (which were also insulated with foam panels) in extra wool blankets.

    I moved the hives on December 6th, expecting that they would have at least one flying period before Christmas. Last year, the weather stayed too-cold to fly from the day I moved them until end of January (more than 8 weeks), and even after that extended period of being inside some of the bees failed to reorient (despite extravagant, multi-layer barriers in front of the entrances) and they flew back and perished in snow at the old locations before I could find and retrieve them for rewarming and return to the hives. It was disheartening. A few weeks later there was another small flush of bees lost and too-chilled near the old stands to return to the new one. After that, it never happened again (to my knowledge).

    Otherwise the move was completely succesful and the bees did exceptionally well even after the fierce winter last year. All colonies survived.

    Keys points: If at all possible move the entire stack as one unit, not broken apart into separate pieces. Fewer bees will be lost in the process and I believe that the disturbance is much less. If moving in winter have a plan in place to add some warmth in the first day or so to allow the cluster to reform before it becomes too-chilled. Resign yourself to losing some bees - and try to be on-site, if possible on the first warn-enough-to-fly day to try and re-home the lost ones immediately.

    I, too, don't believe the three-day confinement myth. I would use multiple layers of re-orientation prompts: stuffed up entrance, branches and a couple of flat things (boards, political signs) set against the hive to create a exit-path labyrinth. That helps, but it is not a guarantee that even after all that the bees will get it right.

    I like to winter all my bee hives together on one stand, and this past spring and early summer I was too overhwlemed with anti-swarming efforts to get them moved out to their nearby, planned, summer stands (@20 feet away, and each separate from each other). Having them close together over the summer was convenient but quite unsatisfactory in other ways, so I will be spending some time this winter trying to devise as successful a spring dispersal strategy and as my winter "all return to the stand" plan. If I had had the time to move them apart this year, I would now be in the process of moving them, by short stages, back to their winter stand. Moving them as late as I did last year left them open to problems if they mindlessly returned to the old places in weather that was only marginal for quick flights. Ideally I'd get the move completed in warmer fall weather before Columbus Day, which would be less risky for them. I am lucky that I have access to heavy equipment as my hives are wintering very heavy this year (And hopefully that way from now on; they were pathetically light when I moved them last year. I fed them continuously all winter to get them through.)

    I think all bee moves result in losses and that the old beekeeper adages about distance and time working, merely merely prevent beekeepers from seeing the lost bees that happen no matter what. So try do all you can do to support the move (branches or boards in front of then entrance, left-behind boxes every night to collect stragglers, and choosing your season carefully) in order help minimize the inevitable costs to the bees.

    Good luck!

    Enj.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Romania, Sibiu
    Posts
    323

    Default Re: Moving hive in winter?

    Leave a box with/out a frame in it at the old location. Late in the evening you can take those foragers and shake them to the new box. I had to do such a move due to robbing(unite weak nuc to other weak nuc elsewhere ~4m)... there were only a hand of bees though. If you have to just do it.
    Dfa (Humid continental warm summer climate)

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