Moving beehives

The sky was just beginning to lighten Saturday morning as I went out to the apiary with scissors and a wet sponge. The bees were not yet active so it was an ideal time to close up hives in preparation for moving.

Getting hives ready to moveI manage a few hives for Ernie and Gwen Hilton of Hyl-Tun Farm in Starks; just as mine had perished in the brutal winter of 2014-2015, so did the Hilton’s. Over the last 2 years I’ve built up both my hives and those of Hyl-Tun Farm─keeping the nucleus colonies at Runamuk so that I could closely monitor their progress. Now the Hilton’s hives are full-fledged and looking strong and Ernie and I arranged to move them back to Hyl-Tun Farm, which happens to be just a mile up the road from Runamuk’s current location.

How do you move beehives? you might wonder, lol.

I’m no migratory beekeeper and I really prefer not to move hives around too much just because it stresses them and it’s a bit of a hassle, but I’ve done it enough times to know what to expect.

materials for plugging hives for moving


I used a new sponge I’d whetted, and simply cut squares off to fit the varying sizes of the hive entrances on each of the Hilton’s 3 hives─bottom and top entrances, as well as any auger holes or any holes the bees are using to come and go from.

plugging hive entrancesThen I used wratchet-straps to bind all of the boxes, their bottom boards and top covers together so that nothing would slide apart during the move. And they were ready to travel!

Hives on the truckSince these hives are too tall to fit easily into my Subaru wagon, Ernie brought his truck over and we hefted each hive and loaded them one by one into it. Then we drove the mile down the road to Hyl-Tun Farm.

hives on the moveWe’d moved the apiary location at Hyl-Tun Farm to make it easier for me to access the hives without having to trek through their fenced pastures, and I picked a spot up on a knoll against the hedgerow that divides two pastures. This spot receives full sun up til the very tail end of the day, offers a natural wind-break, allows for south-facing placement of the hives, and is dry. These colonies will have access to the acres and acres of clover, grasses, and other forage available in the Hilton’s pastures.

hives at hyl-tunSince the Hilton’s apiary site is only about a mile from the Runamuk apiary we were a little concerned that the field bees might return to the former site. The lone hive remaining on that particular bench is a little weaker so any field bees returning there will hopefully join that colony and help to strengthen it. However, to minimize population loss in the Hilton’s hives I tried to create some kind of blockage infront of the entrances. Some of our research indicated that this might help, so I used what was readily available─brush and branches from the hedgerow─and stood them up in the cement blocks that support the hive-bench.

It’s been 2 days since the move so I stopped in at the Hyl-Tun apiary this morning on my way to work to remove the sticks and branches. So far everyone looks great and the Hilton’s are happy to have the bees back on the premises. Yay bees!