Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Moving hives around in the bee yard
The whole thing about moving hives is that you don't want to confuse and lose bees by moving the hive too far so they can't find the hive.
In warmer weather if the bees returning are stuck outside trying to find their hive it might not be quite so bad but in early spring the temperatures can vary considerably and bees left outside at night can get too cold to fly quickly and give up searching.
In my Pines bee yard I lost 5 of 10 hives. I know the bees are experiencing a lot of stress with neonics, mites, climate change, etc. So I think about all the things I can control to help.
When setting up this yard I was so focused on making sure the bees had shade in the afternoon that I believe I put them into too much shade. Too early in the day they're in shade, which in a hot summer would be okay. But it would meant they're not as active. It would also mean they wouldn't get as much winter sun on the black wraps to help give the hives heat.
My feeling is that what didn't help the five weak hives was that they got too cold in their location. So my decision has been to move the hives to give the more sun. The theory being that being too hot is better than being too cold. In a warmer or tropical climate of course the shade issue could be very different.
So, how to move the hives about 15 to 20' without causing too much stress on the hives? The answer is to shift them in degrees. One foot per day is the suggestion distance.
[photo - new location about 20 feet away to the east]
Instead of setting up a platform next to the existing and sliding them over (very time consuming) I've put some wagons into use.
[photo - breaking down the yard, removing dead hives and platforms]
I've loaded a hive on a wagon and then I can move it each day until I get it into position.
I've found it's much easier for the bees if their entrance orientation is the same direction.
If changing the entrance orientation, do that much slower and in smaller increments.