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Another Myth Buster – Moving a Bee Hive

Well, the old saying that you can only move a hive 2 feet or 2 miles is hogwash. Beekeepers in Richmond, Virginia and nationwide always advise that you should not move a hive unless it is a really short distance (2 feet or so) or a really long distance (over 2 miles.) The short distance is obvious, as the bees should be able to get a whiff of their queen in the new location (not to mention the fact that the old home is right there beside where they are looking!) The long distance is based on the general belief that bees forage out to 2 miles and know the lay of the land in this area. If you move them a mile, for example, they’ll go out foraging, recognize the area and return to their old home.

Well, I moved a hive about 80 feet (the Southside hive) the other evening and placed a cedar branch over the entrance. The next day, I had about 6 bees buzzing around the old spot. The day after that, I didn’t  see a single bee there. But, the hive in the new location has bees coming and going like mad.

It is true that this hive was only recently moved to my property. Regardless, the success of this move matches other experienced beekeepers (such as Michael Bush), so I will bank on it going forward. Of course, I hope to not do a lot of hive moving.

At any rate, it’s off to the wood shop now. I need to build some more brood chambers!

3 comments to Another Myth Buster – Moving a Bee Hive

  • Doug Ladd

    This is a myth. I have moved hives that sat in the same location all summer, i moveded them during midday (worst case) and only had a handfull of bees that returned to the old spot and i am sure these are ones out foraging when i moved it.

    If you need to move a hive, move it! Period. I dont even worry about the branch. Or wait till late evening when all the foragers are home and move it then.

    Just make sure you never move a new split making a queen until AFTER you are sure the new virgin queen has completed ALL her mating flights. Otherwise you might make your new hive queenless if the queen is out mating when you move the hive…

    Enjoy busting myths. I have disproven a few myself this one included. Winter ventilation is another myth i didproved for myself. Check out Dennis Murrels sight on this…

  • Thad

    I moved a hive about 80 feet and for about 11 days a good portion of the bees keep returning to the old location. Once there they landed on what was near by and died. NOT a myth.

  • No doubt there are exceptions, but since that post I have moved hives dozens of times in my yard without ever experiencing that problem. But, I do have an interesting follow-up note. Earlier this Spring I moved a Nuc out to an outyard, some 25 miles from my house. I left it there for a month, using it as an egg bank for a few splits. I then brought it back to my home yard (but placed it in a spot some 40 yards from the original location.)

    An hour or so later, I noticed a bunch of bees trying to get into a stack of deeps full of foundation and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then I realized that they were in the EXACT spot that the Nuc had once been in. The bees REMEMBERED! Heh. Who would have known.

    They did eventually find their way back to the original hive (well, they weren’t dead on the ground or even at the stack the next day.)

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