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I have six hives that I need to move across the yard about 25 feet. I know it would be ideal to wait until Spring. But aside from that, when would be the best time? Now before the frosts come? Or mid winter?

I'm afraid to disturb them mid-winter; if they break cluster, they are done.
 

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I have had good luck moving them when clustered and cold. I assume you are moving the hive intact so you will not be disturbing them as far as opening the hive. In the winter they will be stuck inside for days so they will reorientate to their new surroundings when there is a nice day if moved and constrained to the hive for 3 or more days due to the cold.
 

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This is a good question. I would like to see if anyone here has an answer.

If I wait until very cold winter weather, and move a hive less than 2 miles, or so - within the same yard.

Will the bees get lost if it warms up and die, or do they automatically re-orient during the winter - so its OK to move a hive ?
 

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Will the bees get lost if it warms up and die, or do they automatically re-orient during the winter - so its OK to move a hive ?
No they wouldn’t get lost because as FarmerDave wrote, they will automatically reorient after being stuck in for a few days. There is a small risk of moving when cold & clustered, if it is a rough or bouncy move.:eek:
 

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This is a good question. I would like to see if anyone here has an answer.

If I wait until very cold winter weather, and move a hive less than 2 miles, or so - within the same yard.

Will the bees get lost if it warms up and die, or do they automatically re-orient during the winter - so its OK to move a hive ?
Yes I believe it will be fine, you are not moving far so just be gentle. On a side note, I see that comment far to often about if you are moving more than 2 mile the will be fine. It is true I guess that they will not make it back home if you move more than 2 miles but regardless if they don't reorientate as they are leaving the hive they will be lost. The only difference if you move less than 2 miles they may come back to their original hive location so you will see them gathering there and if you move them more than 2 miles they will still be lost and you will not see them at all. So, yes it has some validity that more than 2 miles they have only one choice which is to come back to their new home but they still must re-orientate before leaving or they will become lost. I have seen some escape early when moving to a new location and they take off and never look back and I know they will not be coming back to their new home. Most seem to say if they are locked in or can not fly due to weather for 3 or more days they will re-orientate when leaving the hive. I prefer to move them in the late fall/early winter so they are in the hive for even longer to be safe.
 

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This is a good question. I would like to see if anyone here has an answer.

If I wait until very cold winter weather, and move a hive less than 2 miles, or so - within the same yard.

Will the bees get lost if it warms up and die, or do they automatically re-orient during the winter - so its OK to move a hive ?
Yes I believe it will be fine, you are not moving far so just be gentle. On a side note, I see that comment far to often about if you are moving more than 2 mile the will be fine. It is true I guess that they will not make it back home if you move more than 2 miles but regardless if they don't reorientate as they are leaving the hive they will be lost. The only difference if you move less than 2 miles they may come back to their original hive location so you will see them gathering there and if you move them more than 2 miles they will still be lost and you will not see them at all. So, yes it has some validity that more than 2 miles they have only one choice which is to come back to their new home but they still must re-orientate before leaving or they will become lost. I have seen some escape early when moving to a new location and they take off and never look back and I know they will not be coming back to their new home. Most seem to say if they are locked in or can not fly due to weather for 3 or more days they will re-orientate when leaving the hive. I prefer to move them in the late fall/early winter so they are in the hive for even longer to be safe.
 

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I would move them when it's convenient for me, not worry about when it's convenient for the bees. If moving 25 feet in the same yard, and there are no other hives around, the bees will find their way back to a hive by end of day. They may not end up in the same hive, but they will end up in one of them for the most part. There may be a few that dont figure it out, but that'll be a very small handful that doesn't amount to anything signfificant.
 

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Just move it any convenient day. The foragers are dying off now. If any get lost they are bees that will be lost in the next couple of weeks as it is. Unless you live in zone 8 or higher then foraging is about done, zones 6 or lower foraging is is costing more than it brings in. If that is more heartless than you can muster then watch your weather forecast for three or four days of weather that stays in the lower forties or colder. Tie the stack together with a ratchet strap and with a helper move the hive on the first day of the cold snap. After they've been inside for for that long they'll reorient on the first fly day.
 

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So... the bees who fly right now, and through the early spring, are oriented to the hive location. And there are enough to be a problem for any penned in critters, or people, so try to picture a mass of angry bees and just plan to be around so you could address that if it happens. Some folks have no neighbors in sight, others have bees in suburban lots. Don't know the OP's situation.

I have moved hives when it was cold. They were frameless hives - top bar hives. No pressure. ;) In winter in OH, we get stretches that are cluster-tight weather (highs not even 30F), and we get a couple days with some weak sunlight and in the mid 40s at some point almost every winter month. I chose a day that had the mid-40s coming on. We moved the hives in the very early am, before flight weather. They were moving between 10-20 feet, depending on the hive.

-One hive was moved away from a bush, to an open area (20 feet away). It was facing 180 degrees the opposite direction. Very few bees returned to the original location.

-Another was moved 20 feet forward, and another closed up hive body was placed where the hive used to be. Several hundred bees were lost there.

I learned that I need to make the area where the hive was look completely different somehow. Removing the hive AND the hive stand, and any detritus that was within a few feet of the hive, would be good enough for me.

Oh, and I have started putting distinctive items that are easy to move but easy to see from a distance (like a patio chair, or wide board) close to a hive that I want to move. If I move the hive AND the visual cue, it seems to ease the transition. That's something that could be added a couple of weeks (or a couple of fly days) before the hive is moved.
 

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FWIW, a speaker at our club commented that it will take a hive up to 4 hours to recluster after being disrupted. If you move a hive on a cold day and the cluster is broken, at the very least, you can expect some lost brood, if there is any. I would move the hive on days that the temperature is above 40 degrees and would move them late morning to give the bees time to recluster in the "heat" of the day.
 

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The main thing is that it's not so cold that falling bees can't climb back up and it isn't going to quickly get so cold that they don't have time to find the new location if they get confused. So on a cold morning before a warm day isn't so bad. Put a branch or something in front of the entrance to help them reorient.
 

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I have waited for some bad weather, combined with being unable to leave the hive (screen) for 2 or 3 days, and before you open them up cut some pine or cedar limbs and lean them against the hive to where the bees can get out, but can't just fly straight out. They will re-orientate, and at the end of the day remove the limbs.
 

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Not mid-winter. Based on the weather forecast, before November 12. I would not use branches or obstructions, and I would not leave a catch box, empty stand, or anything else at the original location.

Why would you not use branches? Do you want to lose bees? You will lose several foragers anyway.
 

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Why would you not use branches? Do you want to lose bees? You will lose several foragers anyway.
In this particular situation, given the location, weather forecast, and distance of the move, I would likely move the bees sometime between late morning and early-afternoon because of the effect of the move on the winter cluster. Since there may be some foragers out of the hive at the time of the move, and given the temperatures, I would not want to have obstructions in front of the entrance to further confuse those foragers who return to find that the colony was moved while they were gone. I typically don’t use branches or other obstructions anyway because, based on my experience both with and without the obstruction, I have found it to be unnecessary, but I am careful not to leave a catch box or anything else at the hive’s old location. Less is more.
 

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I have had good luck moving them when clustered and cold. I assume you are moving the hive intact so you will not be disturbing them as far as opening the hive. In the winter they will be stuck inside for days so they will reorientate to their new surroundings when there is a nice day if moved and constrained to the hive for 3 or more days due to the cold.
IMO first warm day they go back to the old location and will be dead on the snow. the field bees I am referring to. the ones that hatch would not be affected.
If I had to dig a hole where my bees were I would move them Zero or 3 miles if winter like it is now. Others may have different experiences. Again my way could be different than yours. If you "want" to move them I would resist. IF you Must move them I would plan well.
GG
 

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The foragers that return to find the hive moved MIGHT find the new location. More than likely they will not.
 

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Now, if you move while clustered and cold, if they break cluster during the movement, there is a likelihood of their "balling the queen" and you will only find out about it in the spring. Been there done that. OMTCW




Beekeeping since 1964
 

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It sounds like the more experienced beekeepers on here are saying that after several days of winter clustering, they automatically re-orient during a cleansing flight?
 
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