beekeeping equipment

Through a screen darkly

Yesterday I fixed up a small hive with upper and lower ventilation, strapped it together, and added a Brushy Mountain Bee Farm moving and robbing screen, partially painted. My plan is to move this hive further from the house–away from the dog–and I will use the method I outlined in the post, “How to move a hive.” Although I’ve moved hives before, this is my first time using the moving and robbing screen, and so far I’m impressed.

It is designed to be left in place all the time if you want. But I just plopped it down in front of the hive yesterday, then strapped it on with a tie down. Once the bees were in last night, I simply closed the three entryways. Very quick and easy. I can’t say the bees are real happy, but I am. I like the fact that there is a space for the bees to go out on the porch for some air and go back in anytime. It’s also reassuring because I can see that they are fine, that they are only annoyed and perplexed.

I will move the hive to its new location, leave them locked up for three days, and then remove the screen. It seems more secure than trying to stuff an entrance reducer in the opening and trying to make it stay there during the moving process.

The entrance at the top left (mounted over the metal sheet) is designed to let the bees come and go without letting robbers in. If you had robbers, you would keep the two lower entrances closed and only use the top one. From what I’ve read, robbers follow their noses and will continually try to fly straight in from where the scent is coming. The metal sheet diverts the scent to the side, so the robbers keep working that area while the real entrance is just above the metal screen. Apparently the bees that live there can figure this out, but the bees that don’t belong are continually flummoxed by this arrangement.

I purchased the screen recently to use against robbing bees, but yesterday as I was painting it, I remembered I could use it for moving this hive. So I stopped painting (mid-stroke it appears) and set it up. Of course, it’s been rainy and miserable for weeks on end and now that they’re locked up it’s sunny and warm. I told them I was sorry . . . it’s the best I can do.


Moving screen with all three doors open.

It's dark on the screened-in porch.


  • Okay, it’s time for you to get a cheap video camera. It would be great to see a demo of this in action.

    Most moderately priced still cameras can shoot half decent standard def video, if not high def. If you live in Mac world, shooting, editing and uploading is a cinch. If you live in PC world, it’s still pretty easy.

    That’s my thought du jour.

    • Sounds like you’re trying to make my life more complex. I already have serious technology issues, as you know.

    • You guys, both of you, are trouble. I was going to just ignore Phillip, but now with Sam chiming in, my husband says, “You have no choice, you have to do video. Your readers are demanding it!”

      How many times do I have to say it? I’m a writer. You mean my exquisitely chosen, aptly arranged words don’t paint the perfect picture? Come on, now.

  • If you are moving them significantly less than 3 miles and more than 3 feet, you might like to use a trick I read about. Your cage probably tries to get round this as well but no harm in a two pronged approach. This person said that he could break the rules as it were, if before he moved a hive, he placed a long painted white board (eg a wooden plank about 2-3 metres long and 8-10 inches wide) leading to the hive entrance for a few days before hand. I pictured this like runway landing lights. Then moving the hive by steps of about 15 feet became possible if this ‘landing strip’ was also moved.

    I assumed that was because though they used other means to navigate when further away from the hive, they also used visual clues close to the hive to fine tune, and the landing board was a significant visual clue.

    • Hi Tricia,

      Wow, this sounds like a really cool idea. It makes sense, too. It gives the bees a strong visual clue as they get close to the hive. It seems like it would work great for those 10- or 20-foot moves that are so hard to do. I will definitely give this one a try. Thanks for sending it in.

    • Jess,

      It is supposed to. Apparently wasps are like robber bees in that they follow the scent and will keep bumping into the screen where the scent is coming out. However, I have never tried this screen on either robbers or wasps so I have no firsthand experience. I will be happy to report on it once I try it for that purpose.

  • Rusty,

    My bees also congregate on the inside of my robbing screens like in your pictures. It always seems like they are trying to figure out how to get through the screen, rather than just using the entrances. Do you think the ones milling around on the inside of the screen are confused, or are they doing something else?

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