How to move a hive any distance

It’s really odd to find something you wrote being used as the main topic of somebody else’s video, especially when you’ve never met or even heard of the person. That’s the internet for you. In this case the videographer is LDSPrepper and, luckily, he found that my technique for moving a hive worked perfectly for him.

He refers to me by name “Rusty” for a while and then devolves into “Ray” which, I guess, is fine. Oh yes, he also refers to me as “he” which I guess is understandable, but it tells me he’s not a regular reader. Gotcha. Anyway, I forgive him because he gave me high marks in Beekeeping Myth Busting 101.

Anyway, here’s his video.

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Comments

ScoobyDoBee
Reply

Great job teaching, Ray! :)

Rusty
Reply

Thanks, I think.

Bruce
Reply

“Call me anything you want. Just don’t call me late for dinner.” Good job Ray.

eric : GardenFork.TV
Reply

I can’t tell if you are puzzled or peeved by this, but you shouldn’t be surprised by someone using knowledge they gained from your posts in their own post, be it a ‘video post’.

In the video he credits you several times, and shows your website address in the video, which is great.

(I create DIY and how-to videos, and have video documented my first years of beekeeping, and when I reference someone else’s work, I do the same thing.)

I’m dyslexic with names of people, many people are, and mangle people’s names on a regular basis, so I wouldn’t make a big deal about him getting your name wrong. He’s not a professional broadcaster, just a guy with a video camera and some beehives.

And unless you dig deep into this site, one can’t determine the gender of the author of HoneyBeeSuite easily.

I think your site is great, I’ve learned a lot from you, I’ve posted about it on Twitter and Facebook, even sent you a fan email (never heard back…)

So instead of being puzzled – be flattered! – Mr Prepper just made a great video for you, and you didn’t have to do anything!

And, now I know how to easily move the 3 hives I have to move about 100’! i was going to truck them across town for a week and then bring them back, now I don’t have to. I’ll make a video about moving the hives and credit you with showing me the technique.

Thanks again for all your hard work on the site here, always learning something, Eric.

Rusty
Reply

Now, Eric, you’ve got it all wrong. Like lots of folks, you don’t understand my sometimes dry sense of humor. I am neither puzzled nor peeved, but flattered. If I wasn’t pleased, or if I didn’t like the video, I would not have embedded it. I’m pretty particular about what gets posted.

Mr. Prepper not only did a nice job of demonstrating the technique, he has beautiful hives. I love looking at them. He has a pleasant voice as well and absolutely gorgeous oak leaves.

You don’t have to dig too deep to determine my gender. Lots of folks say I think like a woman (probably not a compliment). And I write about my husband all the time . . . as in the post before this one.

As for fan mail . . . you’ve got me there. I try to answer everything that comes in, although I do better with comments than e-mail. In any case, I’m sorry if I failed to answer. I definitely remember both you and your Twitter-ments.

So take it easy. I was just havin’ fun.

eric : GardenFork.TV
Reply

Good to hear that.

The problem with the web, and comments especially, is that they lack tone a lot of the time, not everyone can tell when it’s humor or when its not.

Maybe you’ll post my video homage to HoneyBeeSuite on ‘moving hives the easy way'; though my hives are a not as shiny & new ;)

Rusty
Reply

Eric,

Maybe I will. Send me a link.

Charlie
Reply

This technique has been around for a while. You’re not the first person to think of this. It’s common knowledge to close up a nuc after a split in the same bee-yard for 3 days.

Just saying.

Rusty
Reply

Hi Charlie,

I absolutely agree that the technique has been around for a long time . . . after all, everything I know I learned from somebody else. However, I do not agree that it’s common knowledge. What is more common is the “three feet or three mile” advice. What I try to do here at Honey Bee Suite is distill and clarify piles of confusing information. Most techniques I write about I didn’t invent, I just re-phrased. The answers are all out there but oftentimes they are hard to find and/or hard to decipher.

Just saying.

Johnny Mason
Reply

Good stuff. We have a similar sense of humor and you knoooooow I’m going to start calling you Ray from now on. ;)

Rusty
Reply

Johnny,

No surprise there. Even my daughter is calling me Ray.

Phillip
Reply

I watched another of his videos. His hives are beautiful because they’re coated in fibreglass. Or that may be part of the reason, anyway. I used linseed oil to preserve the natural look of my hives. I’m switching to paint because the linseed oil wears out quickly. But if I knew anything about fibreglass, I’d give it a go. I wonder how safe it is for bee hives…

Rusty
Reply

Phillip,

I never heard of anyone fibreglassing a hive, but I suspect it would make it really heavy. I helped fibreglass a wooden boat once, and it weighed a ton afterward. That was a long time ago, though. Maybe things have improved.

Toby
Reply

The fiberglass part of the finish would be un-necessary in this case, you could use just use the epoxy if you wanted, it would probably be difficult, messy, and expensive. If you want a more durable finish that will last you might try spar varnish, it is commonly used on the exposed woodwork on boats.

Bruce
Reply

I have done a fair bit of fibreglassing and it would certainly protect your hive from the elements, but as Ray says it would increase the weight significantly. Although there are a few new (they claim) eco-friendly resins, I would worry about the toxicity of traditional fibreglass resins.

Pat
Reply

Love your sense of humour Ray! And your website!

Pat
Reply

:)))

Charlie
Reply

Rusty,

I don’t have a problem with what you said, “Most techniques I write about I didn’t invent, I just re-phrased. The answers are all out there but oftentimes they are hard to find and/or hard to decipher.”

I do have a problem when you “re-phrase” and call it your technique leading readers to believe you came up with it all on your own. The reader who posted the video was very happy to give you the credit for “your” technique. (That video was very well done by the way, great narration). You should give credit to whoever you learned this technique from instead of calling it your own.

Rusty
Reply

Charlie,

I see your point but the problem with that kind of knowledge (you called it “common” knowledge, I believe) is that who knows where it comes from? Much of this stuff I picked up years ago. Maybe it came from my grandfather? I have no idea. You know that ice melts at room temperature, okay? To whom do you credit that knowledge?

When I use the word “my” I simply mean my interpretation or my post or my writing or my site. When I hear about various techniques I try them, modify them in a way that works best for me, and then write about them. I supposed you could say the modifications are my own, but I’m not claiming that either. By the way, when I know the source of information, I always refer to it.

Charlie, if any person learns something from this site then I have accomplished my goal of accumulating, filtering, and simplifying the vast amount of bee knowledge that is out there. Many people appreciate it, obviously some do not. Although I hate to lose a reader, I realize my site is not for everyone.

Thank you for writing.

Charlie
Reply

All good points. I love your site BTW and read it often and will continue to do so. You have a gift for writing in which I give you all the credit!

Charlie

Rusty
Reply

Thank you, Charlie. Your points are well-taken as well.

Alan Harvey
Reply

Hi Rusty,

Thanks so much for your website. I live in the tropics (Malaysia) and being a typical male, I got my bees and hive first, then looked for instructions on what and how to do. First thing, the hive was in the wrong place, so I needed to move it. Everything I read said the old 3 ft to 3 mile rule. Then I came across your site. I moved my hive 4 nights ago to the other side of my house about 20 meters as the crow flies. First night all ok, second night half the hive managed to escape, but stayed on the hive, third day I let the rest of the bees out and all are quite happy in their new location. Thanks for your how-to page. I will be back as I haven’t a clue what I am doing, but am having fun learning and getting stung! Thanks Alan

Rusty
Reply

Alan,

I’m glad that worked for you. Thanks for letting me know.

Ilja
Reply

Guys, can you give some information about where and how I can buy a beehive trailer or other transport for moving hives?

pete
Reply

Why didn’t I find this site few weeks ago!

Had to move my hive to avoid flight path being in direction of a sensitive neighbour. I followed the three mile rule as I needed to move the hive about 25 feet within the garden. Left the hive in an orchard 15 miles away for three weeks. Got them back Friday in the new location and after two days I still have 60% of the flyers returning to the old site! Seems like they do make their way back eventually but they hover around the old position for most of the day so far. Just hope they wise up soon.

Great site.

Steve Owenby
Reply

Rusty, I’m just starting out on the adventure of beekeeping. I thought that I’d post on Facebook this fact in hopes that some friend would give me advice on how I could save some money in getting started … it worked! I have acquired a complete hive with 3 supers, smoker, veil and BEES. I have to move this hive about 60 miles. The hive is loaded … should the hive be transported as it sits now or can I break it down and seal it somehow for better transport. My truck has a tonneau cover – will this help or hurt?

I WILL be visiting this site often … great job!

Rusty
Reply

Steve,

The hive should really be moved as a unit, so the tonneau is going to get in the way. I usually set the hive on a piece of plywood then strap the whole thing together with a ratcheting tie down so it is really tight. I wait for the bees to come home at night, close the entrances, and move the hive the next day. I place a hand truck or furniture dolly under the plywood, rock the hive back, and then ramp it up into my truck. The plywood is needed because I have screened bottoms, but if you have solid bottoms, you don’t need it.

If you want to take it in pieces, you will need to close off the top and bottom of each box, and the bees aren’t going to like it. Still, if you decide to go that way, make sure each box is really tight so the bees can’t get out. I would then stack it in it’s normal position (with an entrance) and let all the bees come home before you close the entrance and move it the next day.

Timothy
Reply

Rusty.

If I lock them up for three days do I need to put the branches in front of it and how do I make sure the bees get air being in there?

Rusty
Reply

Timothy,

I would do both the locking down and the branches. Some bees are very stubborn.

For air you can use a screened bottom, a screened inner cover, you can put hardware cloth over the opening instead of solid wood, you can drill an air hole in the side of a brood box and screen it with hardware cloth, you can use a moving screen or a robbing screen, you can use a moisture quilt with screened vent holes, you can use a regular inner cover with the hole screened, or something I haven’t thought of.

Anna
Reply

Hello Rusty,

I stumbled on your blog while researching the net about solutions with a bee problem. I live in Phoenix, AZ and I have had a hive for probably 8 years or so in the trunk of a silk tree by my side entrance. I never had a problem with the bees till a week ago. People often told me I need to kill them, but I always answer “they know I live here too and they never caused any problems so I don’t see why I should.”

Well, things have changed, last week they stung my gardener and yesterday they stung me. The tree is too close to the side entrance to my house which I use several times per day. This spring I planted a lot of flowers and fruit trees so I spend more time in the yard watering and taking care of the new vegetation. This spring I also noticed an increase on the number of hornets in my yard. I would love to remove them and looked at the video one of your fans posted; I am just afraid the colony is too big to do that.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated, I really wouldn’t want to end up calling an exterminator. Thank you.

Rusty
Reply

Anna,

First off, do not call an exterminator. If you must get help, call a local beekeeper. A beekeeper can take away the hive and allow the bees to live. A colony that has persisted on its own like that for many years must have some good, solid genetics. Do not kill it.

The aggressive behavior is probably temporary; something set them off. Maybe they are in the process of raising a new queen, or it could be that the hornets are bothering them. See my post on why honey bees may sometimes become aggressive, and don’t forget to look through the comments for even more insight.

Since you just planted fruit trees, you need those bees more than ever. I can’t imagine any serious gardener wanting to get rid of bees, although I can certainly understand wanting to move them further from the house. I recommend you wait a couple weeks and see if they calm down. If they don’t, then call a beekeeper for removal.

Cassi
Reply

Hi Rusty,

What about moving my 2 hives a second time? Because I realized the new location I put them in a week ago is too shady. How long should I wait to move them to a sunnier spot?

Thank you

Rusty
Reply

Cassi,

I don’t think you need to wait, you can just go ahead and do it.

Valerie
Reply

I need to move my bees from AZ to WA state. Any recommendations?

Rusty
Reply

Valerie,

That will be much easier than moving them 50 feet. Just make sure they have ventilation so they don’t get too hot, but don’t put them in a wind tunnel either. If they have plenty of honey, they will be fine. Lock them up the night before you leave and place them in their new location as soon as possible.

linda
Reply

I have twenty or twenty-five thousand honey bees living under a wood playhouse in my back yard. I’d like to get a few bee boxes and move them twenty feet from our house. My grandchildren live with me and the bees like my mango trees. How do I get help?

Rusty
Reply

Linda,

Call a local beekeeper or beekeeping club. I’m sure someone would be happy to come out and help you.

Jim F.
Reply

Rusty

Just wanted to thank you for this site! I have used many suggestions from in the past few weeks. I had to move a survivor hive from our old farmhouse set for demo and I used this method to make sure they got reoriented to their new location a few thousand yards away. It worked like a charm and they seem to have settled in quite well in their new home. I’m in the process of getting the hive registered with the state as a survivor hive as it had been in the same place for well over thirty years now . I hope they will continue and their genetics well be useful to preserve future generations of honey bees. Plan on trying to rear queens next season once they are well established and I finish some classes in the process.

Thanks again for your work and efforts in this site. You’re a bee saver!!!

Rusty
Reply

Jim,

I didn’t know you could register a hive as a survivor. What state is that?

Jim F.
Reply

In Indiana they are keeping a list of them; that is the information I have been given through our department of natural resources. I’ll post more on it once I hear back from them.

Sil
Reply

I hope I did this correct! Hello from Friendswood TX. Yes, that is the name!

I have been putting my 2 cents to protect nature, after reading about the bees being in trouble. I plant cilantro in all the back of my small yard (hate the grass Lol) the bees love it! 3 weeks ago I discovered that the bees decided to make their casita in my casita (house) lol well who can blame them? There was a hole in the wall, plenty of food not too far and water!

Perfect right! Yeah for them! For me it’s my garage wall. lol

I have called, went to a meeting of beekeepers, and frankly I am upset and disappointed. I did not get any help, I still do not know what the heck is a super etc etc etc… My intention is to remove them from my wall into a beehive, everyone has said it can’t be possible yara yara yara….

These bees have been pollinating my garden for years… I am not after their honey as the beekepers…. I just need them out of my wall.

I came across your site and yes it was LDSprepper’s video and of course your in site that has definitely made me want to make this happened.

I explained to everyone that I would be sealing the hole that they came into the wall, and we of course will get the honey combs and the queen into the hive… Again everyone said it’s not possible, they’ll just go back to where they are, the gps etc etc! Again thank you for giving me the inside to try and accomplish this.

Now can you help me set up that hive.. What do I get.. I can’t afford to spend a lot a money, the removal is going to be $$300!

Please help… The bees and I will be eternally thankful to you

Sil

Rusty
Reply

Sil,

I wish I could help you, but I can’t really do it from here. I don’t know why the beekeepers are saying it can’t be done, unless the bees are in a difficult to reach place.

To get the colony to move you would have to get the combs, as you say, especially the ones containing brood (baby bees) and the queen. If you could put all that into a hive, the foraging bees (the ones that are out collecting nectar and pollen) will still go back to the original location, as they told you. If you put the hive close by the hole, and then seal up the hole, some of them may find the new location, some not. Then you will just wait for the brood to hatch and the colony to build up.

By the time you buy a hive and equipment and protective gear you will spend least $300, so unless you really want to get into beekeeping you might consider letting them do it. Moving bees out of a structure is much more difficult than just moving a bee hive.

jferg61
Reply

Sil:

I agree with Rusty can’t figure why the beekeepers would say it can’t be done. You can get a beginner’s kit hive set up for around $300.00 that will include the veil and gloves smoker etc. and there are a lot of YouTube videos that show you how to build a simple small beeVac (which can then be used for other projects afterwards). You can do the cut-out yourself (but make sure you do some due diligence and educate yourself first). It’s not that hard once you know how making sure the air pressure is not too fast so you don’t kill the bees. I’d be happy to share what I know with you if you would like (I’m no expert but I do have experience).

If you are moving them just into your yard you should be able to collect the stragglers in the evening when they cluster around the original hive entrance.

Jferg61
Reply

That would be awesome, yes! There is a head vacuum sold by home depot that goes in the 5 g bucket, you make a hole and tape part of it, until you get a gently pressure.

Ok, last night I tapped on the bottom of the wall and I heard the buzzing.
So, my questions is do I have to do the cutting of the wall all the way on the top (maybe where the ceiling beams are? Or at the port of entrance? Of course from the inside of my garage?

Thank you for the offer, now what do I need for that beehive? Just a starter kit? Or do I need a super (separate box?) that is the confusing part for me

Sil

jferg61
Reply

Sil:

Here is a like to a great supplier who has been good to me. This is where I got my starter kit. You need to make sure about the sizing as they carry s, m, L, XL glove sixes etc. make sure you order the sizes that fit you. This kit includes everything you will need to get started except for the bee suite and you can buy that here too or just come up with something white and thick to wear. (Make sure you have all leg cuffs taped up or they will get you by climbing up your leg and that is NOT fun [voice of experience here])
I http://www.betterbee.com/Products/10-Frame-Hives/Assembled-10-Frame-Beginners-Kit-with-Large-Gloves
This link is for large size gloves but you can search for larger/smaller sizes as needed. The kit includes two deeps supers and two medium supers it also comes with foundation a smoker a feeder and everything else you need for one hive. You will need at least a couple concrete blocks to set everything up on as you want your hive up off the ground. Skunks and raccoons like to raid hives so if they are off the ground the bees can defend themselves and sting these guys in the belly so they leave them alone.
Now once you have all your equipment together (do not cut before you have EVERYTHING put together and painted or stained and aired out. Get everything together and set up where you want them to go (Bees tend to build their comb in line with the East West axis (noted this when cutting our many wild hives) so have your hive facing south easterly is the best idea). Make sure it is placed far enough away from and human traffic path so the bees will not be disturbed by people walking by all the time. Keep it at least 50-75 feet away from any doorway etc. Make sure it has morning sun and afternoon shade (especially in Texas where the temps get really bad e.g. HOT around noon and onward). Make sure you have a water supply available for the bees I can send you an plan for a floating water supply later ( you do not want your bees drinking from the neighbors pools or whatever as that might cause tensions’ with neighbors who mostly have NO understanding about honey bees).
Ok now that you have the hive it is painted/stained it is set up in a great location that provides the bees with plenty of light and shade and protection from the wind etc. and has a water supply (everything any bee could possibly ever want) you are ready to get started with your cut out.
Something you will need for this operation include bat are not limited to the following (I’ll try to remember everything but I suggest you go online and double check just so I haven’t forgotten anything).
1. A beeVac (the bucket one you talked about will work but you have to be VERY careful with the pressure to insure you do NOT kill all your bees) Start it with wide open so pressure is lowest and then slowly close to increase just enough to pull the bees in NOT suck them in (it will take a couple tries but you will figure it out you just want enough suction to get the bees started down the hose not enough to just suck them up like you were vacuuming a carpet).
2. Zasaw to do the actual cutting
3. Drill to start hole for sazaw .
4. Pry bar to gently pull the wallboard away from the studs.
5. Empty deep Hive frames and rubber bands so you can transfer the brood into for transfer to your hive.
6. A serrated knife to cut the comb into frame size sections to be transferred into the empty frames and rubber banded into place (best to hold the frame up to the actual comb to size it and then cut it with the knife [Make sure you place the comb in the frame the EXACT way it was in the hive before you cut it out {otherwise the bees will abandon that brood and it will die}]).
7. A good spray bottle filled with sugar syrup 1/1 that you can spray on the bees so calm them down that way you do not have to use so much smoke (you will need smoke just try to keep it to a little as you can get by with.
8. One of your deep supers to hold the banded frames of brood and honey that you remove from the wall ( you can leave the bees that are on the comb alone as they will keep the brood warm and are not likely to be a problem).
9. Smoker
10. Bee suite, Vail, Gloves. Duct tape toe tape your ankles.
11. 5 gallon bucket of water to wash your hands and equipment off with as you are going to get covered in honey!!
12. Another bucket to place odd shaped none brood comb and excess honeycomb into.
13. Gatorade (this is hot work and you will need to take a break once in a while to get rehydrated.
14. A good attitude and a can do one. You can do this and you can save the bees too just work slowly and be accurate and determined ( you will get stung!!! It is part of the job! The ideas is to try to limit the number of times you get stung and that can be done by working efficiently and carefully paying attention to details [like making sure you place the cutout comb in the same way it was in the original hive etc.]).
Now to answer your question as to where to start the cut. That really depends on where the bees are located, how long they have been there and how healthy a hive it is. Where is their entry? Most time (according to my experience) the bees will start their comb at the top of a void. If you garage is made like most that will mean they will most likely have started building their comb at the top beam where the ceiling and the wall meet. You can try your tapping test to see if you hear them there. Some older garages have spacer beams the run about halfway up the wall between the joist Not something you will know unless you use a stud finder and it indicates such a structure (this is not done and has not been done sense the 50s-early 60s). Is it drywall or wood, concrete or what? All those make a big difference as to how you are going to go about the actual cutting out part. I have seen comb that started at the top of the wall and went all the way to the floor for three stud sections but that was a hive of 20+ years. If yours has just moved in then it should be pretty small but they do work fast lol.
I hope this is helpful and if you have any more questions please feel free to ask I’ll share what I know. Good luck and have fun and be careful! Be gentle with the bees especially the queen who you will most likely not see (all the more reason to work slowly and carefully so as not to injure her). Once you have finished with the cut out you will take the hive super with the combs in it and set it on your screen bottom (I suggest you place the queen excluder over this so the queen cannot take off on you; you will remove it in about a week and a half or two so the drones can get out and by them she should be happy with the new digs) place the other super on top of this with the foundation in it and then the feeder. Come back and check the hive in about a week and a half no more than two week to remove the queen excluder and to check for new brood etc. if there is new brood then your queen has made the transition and things should be going well. There is no need to place a honey super on just yet as you want the bees to fill out all the deeps first with brood and honey then once they are settled and growing you can remove the feeder and add a honey super with the queen excluder between it and the top deep and place the top board and lid on it and your bees should be happy and go about the beesness. You will want to check in on them every two weeks or so and see how they are doing.
Again I hope this helps and again if you have any other questions please feel free to ask I’ll share what I know and if I don’t know I will tell you so. Good luck and good bee keeping!

Truly: Jim Ferguson

Sil
Reply

I do not know if I’m answering to the comments correctly, I get them in my email, but when I try to answer it, it send me here.
So, when this web page ask for the name is it my name or the person I am answering to? Rats I just sounded like an idiot lol!
Who would guess that I started in PC way with DOS 3.1 lol
But things change so quickly, I just can’t keep up!

Sil

Darryl
Reply

Hello Rusty, new to beekeeping and about to move a hive in the New Orleans area…. The place we are planning to move the hive to (70 miles away) has a street light above it (10′ away and 30′ high)….will this be a problem for the bees? Will that be too much light at night for them? There’s a street light about 50′ away from them now and they seem to be fine with that. Any insight or advice would be appreciated.
Darryl

Rusty
Reply

Darryl,

It shouldn’t be a problem. It’s dark inside the hive regardless of the light, and a street light isn’t enough to confuse them into thinking it’s daylight. Not to worry.

Darryl
Reply

Rusty,
Thank you for the information. The reason I inquired about that is because the hive is on a front porch at the moment (below the soffit that I removed them from) and last night when I turned on the porch light, there were quite a few bees that left the entrance of the hive, went to the lights, and were aggressively flying into them…like they were attacking the lights. I read where they didn’t like white light at night, and that got me thinking about the street light above the new location. Between submitting my question and now, I read your “zombee” story and that has me thinking… Maybe I think too much. :-)

Rusty
Reply

Darryl,

Honey bees don’t normally fly toward lights at night, which is how the zombees were discovered in the first place: the researcher was trying to find out why they were attracted to the light. That said, if bees are trapped inside a house or shed, they will go to the light to try to get out.

Still, I wouldn’t read too much into it. I honestly don’t think it will be a problem. You could have some zombees, though. They don’t seem to be a big issue and they seemed to be more widespread than initially thought. I don’t think they would take out a hive.

Darryl

Rusty,
Thanks again. I checked the zombee watch website and it showed “ongoing testing” in my area (New Orleans). It appears that it’s been “found” on the west coast by you and up north.

I’ll take your advice and just put them where we originally planned to. I’m not gonna sweat the small stuff. Have a wonderful day and bee well.

Tim KS
Reply

Hi Rusty,

I’m a new bee keeper and want to thank you for this site and all the work you’ve put into it. I just found it a couple of days ago and have learned more here in two days than all the other forums I’ve been reading for months. Keep up the good work.
Tim

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