Relocating beehives can be one of the most unenjoyable activities in beekeeping. Most hobbyists don’t need to do this essentially, however, there are just some cases when it’s the only option. Us beekeepers follow a rule when we’re relocating beehives. It may sound simple, but it can turn your colony upside down if you don’t abide by these rules. These rules are universal! Almost all countries follow these rules which is really fascinating.
To start off, why do we relocate in the first place?
Reasons to Relocating Beehives
Relocating a captured swarm
Probably one of the most common one, rehoming a captured swarm can be quite the trip.
No nectar or pollen flow in the current area
Commercial or not, you would want your bees to be able to collect their natural resources. The lack of these can result in the failure of the colony if not solved immediately. Although short-term answers are available, such as feeding sugar syrup and pollen supplements, it’s not enough for the bees to rely on for a length of time.
Bee’s offering their service to pollinate farmer crops (i.e. almonds)
Some beekeepers offer their bee’s pollinating services to farmers of particular crops.
Relocating for a particular honey source
This is for beekeepers who want to offer a particular honey flavour, such as Marri or Jarrah, that are commonly located in the south west of WA.
Things to Consider Before Relocating Beehives
Time of Relocating
The best time of day to relocate bees is either before the sunrise or after sunset. It is not recommended to relocate during daylight hours! Bees are more active during the day which can lead you to lose some of the bees, especially the ones out to forage.
Avoid relocating on extremely hot weather. Bee’s need to collect a lot of water when it is too hot to control the internal temperature of the hive. The best temperature range is around 7℃ and 16℃. The cooler the weather the better! Cooler weather tends to have less activities in your hive, making it perfect for relocating.
Closing Off the Entrance
Before relocating, you have to ensure that none of the bees will be able to get out during the trip. Close off the entrance while ensuring that the hive is still well-ventilated, such as using flywire screens etc. Most beekeepers also wrap their tray bed (if you’re using a ute) with a cargo net to avoid bees being able to fly out.
Secure the Hive
The hive collapsing while on transport is a disaster. Avoid this by securing the structure of the hive with an EMLOCK or straps to keep the hive from falling apart for the duration of the trip.
Now you’re all prepared for moving the hive, what’s next?
The number one rule to remember when relocating is the 3-3-3 rule. You can only move the hive within 3m – 3km – or more than 3km.
Relocating within 3 metres
This can include backyard beekeepers and wanting to relocate within their backyard. Many new beekeepers just decide to move the hive abruptly without any consideration. The colony may be able to survive this but at a loss of many bees. The bees that left the hive such as foragers will return to the old location and struggle to find their home even if it’s just a meter away. You have a few options in doing this:
- Move the hive at least one to two meters per day to the new location. This way the bees will still be able to find their home.
- Move the hive during the recommended time of day, either before sunrise or after sunset. This way, no bees are out of the hive
If you are looking at moving to a new location more than 3m (maximum of 10m) away from the original location, you can do so by moving so, slowly, within 3m per day.
Relocating within or more than 3km away
When moving to a much larger distance than your backyard, here’s a few steps to take:
Step 1: Close the hive entrance. This can be done by placing a block of wood or a flywire screen as we have mentioned before. Just make sure to have the hive well-ventilated when choosing how to close the hive. You can also wrap your vehicle with a net to prevent bees from flying out.
Step 2: Secure the hive by using an emlock or a strap to keep it together.
Step 3: Secure the hive in the vehicle so it wouldn’t fall, slip or tip while on transport.
Step 4: As soon as the hive is placed in the new location, reopen the entrance.
Relocating this season is a tricky one! Make sure to consider all consequences before doing so. Moreover, this is good to remember especially in spring!
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