Inspired by Bush Bees, we decided to ignore the standard admonition about losing bees if you moved your hive more than 2 feet but less than 2 miles. (The rule of thumb is that if you’re moving your bees across the yard more than 2 feet, you’ll need to move them temporarily out 2 miles away so they don’t fixate on the old location.)
Too much damn work.
Instead, when a neighbor seemed fearful about a hive near his fence, we happily offered to move it on the other side of the yard… that same night.
Here’s how it works:
- After sunset, we taped up the entrance with duct tape.
- We loaded the hive on a wheel-barrow and moved it to the other side of the yard.
- Then for the magic… We piled branches — a lot of branches — in front of the hive and sprinkled mulch on the landing board.
- In a couple days, we removed the branches and mulch (but the girls had cleaned out most of the mulch).
The mulch and branches act as jarring visual cues, telling the hive that something big has changed and that they should re-orient themselves.
“Bees moved less than a mile are likely to return in considerable numbers to their old location. This can be minimized by throwing grass or straw over their entrances to force them to take note of the change when they emerge for the first time from the hive at its new location” —The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping, Richard Taylor
BINGO! Most of the bees will forget all about the old location and instead fixate on this one, just 10 yards away. Sure enough, the next day, we saw only a dozen bees flying around near the old location but by dusk they were all gone. Most of the bees were happily orienting at the new hive.
What if it doesn’t work?
No problem. If instead of sweet success, you find hundreds of foragers back at the old spot and STILL there the next evening, just put a hive body with frames at the old location. Collect those bees and move the box over to the new hive, placing it on top like a super. Leave the branches and mulch in place (consider adding more). Lather, rinse and repeat as needed.
Get more Lazy Beekeeping tips from Bush Bees.