Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Moving Hives Easily with a Backing Board

This backing board is my invention. It's based on a couple experiences I've had with disabled people who needed to shift from one structure--bed, chair, car, etc.--to another.

A backing board is a very smooth board that could be slid underneath the disabled person and then they could be transferred to another surface by being sliddeh off the backing board.

Anyway, that's where I got the idea on how to move hives more easily.

If you've ever had to do it, you know it's a pain.

Small time beekeepers don't have the big equipment to lift and carry... so we improvise.

Carrying a hive that's not taken apart takes two people because it's so unwieldy and because it's heavy.

The boxes can slide apart too - the bottom board and varroa screen can separate at the wrong time and the boxes can slide apart when you don't want them too.

Also, if you've blocked your bees in for the move, you've got a few thousand very anxious bees that are looking for any tiny crack or opportunity to get out of that hive.

What I wanted was to move these heavy hives that were a deep and two or three supers high without taking them apart.

The hives were heavy but not overly so being that it was early spring. I decided to make my version of a backing board.

I imagined two or more people holding the edges to carry the hive and that's when I got the idea to cut handle holes into the backing board. And this is what I came up with. And it worked beautifully. Anywhere from two to four people could lift and carry the hive.

Our heavy duty wagon made the transition even easier. We could tip the hive to get the backing board under the edge and then move until it was centered on the backing board.

Then we'd slide the works onto the wagon. We'd pull the wagon up to the tailgate of the truck and then each person would grab a handle and we'd do a lift onto the truck.

Now those political signs that you may have read about (using to add shade to the top of a hive or give a little roof to the front porch) make fantastic sliders to transition a hive from the back of the truck bed to the front.

Once the hive was on the political sign we used a simple board--we called it the pusher board--to push/slide the hive by placing it against the bottom board and pushing until the hive was at the front of the truck bed. This made room for 2 more hives.

The move went fabulously and we didn't have any problem managing the hive weight or keeping the hive parts together.
The biggest challenge was keeping those determined bees locked into their hives.

We did most of the moves in daylight and so the night before I had taped screening over the entrances so they had air flow but the bees couldn't get out.

But the tape failed and the bees were determined and a few times they got out on me and were flying.

I waited until night time again and came with the staple gun to attach the screening and that was much more effective but somehow 3 hives still managed to have some bees sneak out through the bottom entrance.

The backing board was made with 3/4" plywood.  The handles were cut 1.5" from the edge which was just right to get a strong grip.  I used a bottom board to measure the center and then added about 8 to 10 inches and cut the rectangle out.

It was a big job since the move also meant removing the hive foundation - a 4'x4' plywood base, the wooden flat and all the large bricks.

You can see from the photos that most of the hives were 3 or 4 supers high.

I certainly could not have done the move alone and I'm very grateful for family members that are willing to help and aren't too afraid of bees to pitch in (even if one or two of them did get stung).

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