Beekeeping Information Centre

Moving Hives

bees-on-the-move-paDuring the active season, it is only advisable to move hives “under three feet or over three miles”. If you move them under three feet (about one metre) then they are able to spot their home has moved a little and won’t get lost.

Moving them under three miles (about 5 kilometres) means they will recognise the territory you have moved the hive to and will wing their way home, ie, back to their old site, even if there is no hive there. They will cluster on the grass under the hive stand and die if the nights are cold.

Moving them over three miles will mean that when the bees emerge from their new home, they will not recognise the landscape at their new location, so will re-map it and return to the hive.

Rearranging The Apiary

Winter moves are easier if they are done during a cold spell when there is no flying. The rule can be ignored as the bees will re-orientate when they start flying again on the return of warmer weather. This is useful if you want to rearrange the apiary for any reason. Ask a friend to help as the hives will be heavy. Wear protective clothing just in case some bees are disturbed, but hopefully with two of you, you can carry the hives very gently without even closing the entrance. This can be done during the day as the cold weather will keep the bees indoors.