Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stressfree Reorienting of Hives

With bees, experience is a good teacher.  One thing I've learned over the years is that I haven't set my hives in the best position based on the location of the sun.

[Photo - 4 east facing hives.  Two on the left I wanted to change to south facing].

Two hives in particular were getting quite a draft from east winds in early spring. The wind would blow the poor bees left and right.

I'd come in the yard on particularly windy spring days and see bees scattered all over the grass in a large area where the wind had tossed them. If I didn't look down I would have stepped on them.

The two hives were active and large and I didn't want to take them home to shuffle their memories so I could bring them back--mostly this decision is because my home is only 4 km away and the bees do tend to fly back to the yard (and I can't help but spend extra time collecting these strays. Picture me picking them up one by one and taking them to their new home).

Because I had time on my side I opted instead to do a more stress free shift. I would leave the hives in place but instead rotate them a few inches every few days, gradually angling them until I had them turned into a southern position.

Over the first few weeks of spring that's what I did and it worked very well. The hives were side by side and I got them facing south where they'll get more light and less wind blowing straight into the entrance.

Shifting these hives wasn't as hard as I thought, given that they were heavy with honey. I'd use my hive tool to pry the bottom up and then carefully give a shove on the deep. I did notice that after a rain that the hives did slide much easier than when the platform was wet.

I didn't see any lost bees wondering around outside for very long. I only made the rotations on warmer days so that if the bees were outside for a bit trying to re-orient or figure out the change they didn't perish from the cold.
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