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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm moving a little less than half a mile away. I have some flexibility on when I move them, as long as it's within the next few months.

Would it be best to move them now while it is still warm, and risk them going back to the original location? Or, wait until late November, early December when it is cooler and they are fairly dormant, but possibly risk chilling them?

Here are the average highs and lows for Birmingham, AL, where I am.

September - 84° / 65°
October - 74° / 53°
November - 66° / 46°
December - 55° / 36°

Thanks.
 

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Move them when it's cold and freezing with the bees dormant. Moving them now would end up with most of the forage force back at the original location as 1/2 mile is not near far enough away at all. 10 miles, no prob, 1/2 mile, you asking for problems.

From your posted average temps, I'd say the last half of December or first half of January, for most more normal weather years.
 

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I would tend to agree with Ray, if you lived where the bee’s wouldn’t be flying most year round. I have the same issue when moving hives down in TX. For that reason, I say move them as soon as possible, and try to force re-orientation, there are articles on this. You will still loose some foragers ( not all ), but better to loose them now while they can be replaced, then when brood rearing has slowed, and numbers are needed to keep temperatures regulated in the hive. Problem is it doesn't truely get cold enough down south to keep bee’s from flying, I had some bringing pollen in during December last year, but nights were in the 30’s. The big issue is numbers being replenished before freezing night temperatures occur. If you where up north and had a true a winter I would say wait. You being down south if you wait, the queen will slow brood production, your foragers will still fly out and find the old hive location, they freeze, and numbers are lost which will be needed on the colder nights. When it comes to diminishing numbers if I have to choose, I want to give them a month or two to replenish numbers over loosing numbers during a period in which I know they will most likely not be replaced.
 

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I bought a hive and a nuc from a guy about a mile down the road in June. I put a branch with a lot of leaves on it I front of each hive for a few days at my place and it seemed to work fine.
 

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How many hives are you moving? If not many, I'd suggest using Ray's idea of 10 miles. Find a place to rent (5-10 miles away) for a few weeks and then move them back to the new location.
 

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Just need to move them in the dark when most are at home and when you place them put an obstruction in front of their entrance which could be a very leafy branch so they have to work through it to get back in the hive or a piece of plywood so they have to go in on the ends of the entrances. Leave this on for a few days and your good to go. I have been doing this for many years and it works fine you just lose a few bees that didn’t return from the night before so it won’t hurt the population much.
 

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If you decide to move them now, put an empty box in the old location and collect the strays, moving them again. After two or thee days they catch on. But do place an obstruction in front of the new location’s entrance. Something that works twenty times might not work the next time. Bees just do whatever they want. Let us know if it works for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the input everyone. I'll definitely put a branch or two in front of each hive whenever I move them. If I can wait I will as it will be more trouble to coordinate moving them over the next few weeks. I should also be able to watch the original location after moving them, so I'll also put a few boxes there and check them after a few days.

When you move the bees back that went to the original location, do you need to put the empty box back in the original location or is it not needed anymore?
 

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If time isn't a big deal, then wait until it's colder and they're not flying much.

But people REALLY over complicate moving bees. Why in the dang world would you move them 10 miles only to turn around and re-move 9.5 miles another time?

I move bees all around my apiary frequently and yeah 50-100 feet isn't a half mile, but if anything you'd think there would be massive drift back to the mother colony, right? Put something solid (like plywood or an extra top or bottom board, skip the branch they have a lot of holes and they fall or blow over a lot... a branch doesn't have some sort of special magical power... you're just wanting it to look way different than it did when the bees pop their heads out, and something SOLID is a great way of doing that) in front of the entrance and it's not that big of a deal at all. Best to move them early morning or at night so everyone's at home and they all walk out and see a "wall" in front of the hive so they reorient. There will absolutely be some bees that go back to the original location. I wouldn't suggest doing it if you're moving them off of an old lady's deck or something as they're usually pretty curious at the old location. But you can always just put a box out with combs in it at the old location and collect stragglers or just give them somewhere to go so they're not being a menace.

When you move the bees back that went to the original location, do you need to put the empty box back in the original location or is it not needed anymore?
You can put it back, the idea is that they eventually "figure it out", I really wonder if they're just not the oldest bees finally dying/wearing out though. Also wonder if putting a box there encourages them to not maybe "remember" that the hive has moved? Probably overthinking that, though. I'm not sure if bees do autopilot like people do. Sometimes I'll still start driving to a factory I haven't worked at in 7 years when we make certain trips that involve hitting the highway I'd take to that place every day. Funny how that works.

I would personally not put a box at the original location until later. Say you move them at night. I would wait to put a box out until right before dusk or something the next day. Get them in that "I don't have a home" mindset so that maybe when you move them and shake them out, they're in a begging mood.
 

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I have moved an apiary of 16 full colonies and 24 5 frame nucs 100 to 150 feet to a new location, cleaned up the old location so that there was no boxes or stands at the old site, and within 2 to 3 hours the foraging bees had found and reoriented on their colonies. I didn't place anything in front of the entrances of the moved colonies or leave any boxes for field bees to return to. If you leave a box for the foragers to enter it encourages them to remain at the old location.

When colonies are moved but remain close to the original site the returning forages will seek them out when they find the old location empty. They will begin to circle with the circles growing wider until they find the new position, which in this case is only 50 feet. This type of move is not the same as moving an apiary miles away. The first foragers to find their colony will fan at the entrance and the others can smell this sent for quite a distance, and while there may be some drifting, it will be a minor concern. For several days there will be some foragers that return to the old location each day when they begin to forage, they will circle the old location and because there is nothing there, they return to the new one.

It is best to make this type of move when the weather is warm so that the returning bees have time to find the new home without the danger of chilling, and when flying on the following days until they fully orient on the new location.
 

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But people REALLY over complicate moving bees. Why in the dang world would you move them 10 miles only to turn around and re-move 9.5 miles another time?
folks assume if you move them a long ways away, the foraging force will find their way back to the hive, but after a short move, they find landmarks they have oriented on in the past, and end up back to the original location. I dont buy that at all.

Move them a short distance, they flyout, and do find thier way back to the original location, seen it here, use it as a strategy for equalizing. Move them a long ways away, IMHO, the older foragers fly out, and they are lost, dont find thier way back to the original location, and dont find thier way back to the hive either.

Our experience moving colonies out to the fireweed patch, the next day they often have very little entrance activity, but go back 3 or 4 days later, booming. During that time they have had brood emerging, and bees realizing 'nothing coming in', so they graduate from house to foraging duties.

This is why we never move a colony that has little to no brood, because it's essentially a death sentence for them.
 

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I'm moving a little less than half a mile away. I have some flexibility on when I move them, as long as it's within the next few months.

Would it be best to move them now while it is still warm, and risk them going back to the original location? Or, wait until late November, early December when it is cooler and they are fairly dormant, but possibly risk chilling them?

Here are the average highs and lows for Birmingham, AL, where I am.

September - 84° / 65°
October - 74° / 53°
November - 66° / 46°
December - 55° / 36°

Thanks.
we Had some bear problems earlier this spring knocked over two hives twice on consecutive nights. Put them back together both times but he didn’t comeback. This was the second time in 7 years we had bear prob. So decided it was time to move hives and put up an electric fence. Went out in morning and sealed hives up. Moved them about 100ft to new position and left them closed up till next morning leaned 14” x 4’ boards against front of hive and let them out. Prob 20 foragers at each of old places rest of them oriented and went to work problem solved. Wasn’t the first time I’ve moved hives like that.
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Tree Land lot Wood Plant Grass

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