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How To Move A Colony of Bees

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Moving A Bee Colony:The Easy Way

It is a difficult task to move a bee colony but it can be done...sometimes. It needs to be done in the Spring when the population of the colony will be smaller than at other times, and easier to manage. Large amounts of available food in the springtime will mean that bees can have time to make enough honey to get them through the winter.

The easiest way to move bees, if it works, is to totally expose the hive by removing the siding on the barn. Once the hive is exposed the bees should be brushed carefully into the new hives. Pieces of comb that contain the bee larvae or brood should be attached to the frames with rubber bands and care should be taken to get the queen without harming her.

This is best done on a cool day or evening when the bees are less active. A week or so after transferring the bees check the hive to see if the queen is there and alive. If not you will need to get a new queen bee or the hive will die. While this is the easiest way it is also the one least likely to work.


Moving Bees: The Hard Way

This way is harder but has a better chance of working in the long run. If you try it first and it does not work you can always try the "easy" method. This method will take several weeks to accomplish full removal and relocation of the bees so "bee" patient!

You must block all entry to the hive except one. Make a screen cone over the remaining entrance that will permit the bees to exit the hive but not to return to their old home. The cone can be made of wire screen and should be at least 12 inches outward, narrowing from several inches in diameter to an outer opening of only 3/8ths inch. Put a dummy hive which you have supplied with foundation or a hive with one or more drawn combs adjacent to the screen cone opening and hold it in place by temporary scaffolding. As the foraging bees exit their nest they won't be able to return to their home and should inhabit the new hive. After a couple of days of trapping place a caged queen in the new hive in her cage. Allow the bees to release her so that the substitute hive will be a normal hive. In a couple of months, the substitute hive will hopefully be a functioning colony of bees and it can be removed from its temporary position. Most of the bees from the original nest will have been trapped with this arrangement and will have become inhabitants of the new hive.

Once they have acclimated to the new hive, however, you must move the hive to it's final spot more than 3 feet per day. Bees will not search for their hive so if it is moved more than 1- 3 feet the bees that are out gathering food will be unable to return to the hive and die. By moving it slowly the bees will be able to find the hive each time they return.

Image:Cornell University Master Beekeeper Program
Image:Cornell University Master Beekeeper Program

Moving A Hive

If It Doesn't Work?

If neither of those suggestions work to move a colony then the only one choice is to call a local beekeeper and see if they can come and remove the bees, which will probably cost money if they don't need any more bees. Potentially they can help you set up your own hives when they come out to remove the bees.

Bees need to be protected. We are losing them by the thousands to mites, the African Honeybee, and an odd virus that is killing them. Without honeybees our gardens won't fare very well at all.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hello! Want advice how to start. Found only this:

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks to Eric for that info. Plenty of bees in the Appalachians. Quite annoying. Would like them to survive but need to get them away fast.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks Eric for the info. I will try this soon.

    • profile image


      6 years ago


      Block the entrance to your hives after dark and then move them to the new location.

      Now comes the important part.

      Break off the brushy end of a tree limb or some other device that will disrupt the free flight pattern in and out of the hive and place it in front of the hive opening.

      Remove the blocker from the hive entrance.

      The next morning the bees will know something is different about the way they have to get in and out of their hive due to the brush in front of the hive.

      They will take a short re-orientation flight and all will be ok.

      Remove the brush after two days.

      I have used this method many times and never had a problem.

      Sometimes I may have only moved them 100'.

      I think I learned this trick from Michael Bush (giving credit where credit is due).

      Hope things work out for you.

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 

      7 years ago from Atlanta

      Wow, an interesting subject, very informative Marye!

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      7 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      It has to be done slowly

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am a new beekeeper, I have two hives. I have placed my hives too close to my home. I live on ten acres & would like to move them about 800 feet away to the other end of my property since the weather here is in the low 60,s @ nite. Can this be done all @ once? thanks.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      great writeup, however, Im uncomfortable with the "bees are safe" message that seems to be coming through in the comment section.. I am in the pest control industry, and deal with bees often. MOST bee hives we deal with seem to be rather "safe" with very docile bees. depending on what state you live in, it is very possible you have africanized bees in your area. According to the department of agriculture, here in Nevada all hives are a minimum of 2% africanized. Ive stumbled across many hives which are clearly much higher percentage africanized, and it is not a task for an amateur! I will only send certain, more experienced techs out to deal with a hive I feel it may be africanized due to the difficulty of handling them. If you are not a profesional, or an experienced beekeeper, use great caution, or avoid dealing with it all together and seek help! These bees can seriously injure, or kill you!

    • RalphGreene profile image


      7 years ago

      I thought dealing with bees is dangerous. Thanks for the info.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Help----I live in Norh Andover, MA.

      A large colony of bees has decided to make its home in a Magnolia tree just outside of my back door.

      (This door is the only access to my home for my 95 year old mother.)

      What do I do? Need some quick suggestions....I do not want them killed just relocated.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very useful hub. Thank you for doing it. I will use it next spring when to move colonies to other fields.

    • amsmoving profile image


      8 years ago

      How much does it cost to start bee keeping?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      We were pulling some thick vines next to a garden path and a swarm of bees came out of the ground and stung my husband. We don't want to kill them but are concerned about the grandchildren walking down the path. As no actual entryway can be seen we are stumped as to what to do. Suggestions?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I want to move a colony from a wooden lighthouse, which got there wild, and I want to move them to a bee hive. What is the best way to do this?

    • funride profile image

      Ricardo Nunes 

      9 years ago from Portugal

      Great hub, it has been a great help as I´m now starting my own hives and I must learn everything I can. Thumb up ;)

    • trakker14 profile image


      10 years ago from franklin

      excellent must have had bees along time...

    • gabriella05 profile image


      10 years ago from Oldham

      Great hub great information thank you Marye

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Very interesting! I had an uncle that kept bees for 30 years, but I was never afforded the opportunity to see them.

    • Michele Engholm profile image

      Michele Engholm 

      10 years ago from Hutchinson

      To Mr. Marmalade and all...We did have an interesting summer...  You should have been around the day I took down the wasp nest....That I thought was abandoned...and wasn't...  I looked like a Charlie Chaplin movie.  : )

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      You are welcome. Beekeeping is one of the things I want to do soon.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Marye! Thanks so much for the information. I really don't want to hurt the bees that's why I've been dragging my but about fixing the barn side. I was sure I would have to do the moving in the late fall. Lucky I didn't attempt it yet. Thanks again for this great HUB

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Honey bees are actually ver y docile.

    • MrMarmalade profile image


      10 years ago from Sydney

      Wow, to my unsophisticated mind that sounds very dangerous.

      hope whoever does it has someone else standing by in the extreme of something nasty happening

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      I am not sure Michele...I wonder if there is some way the bees keep the wasps at bay?

    • Michele Engholm profile image

      Michele Engholm 

      10 years ago from Hutchinson

      Another great hub! We noticed a decline in our bees here in Minnesota this last summer, but oddly an increase in wasps around my house. Is that normal? Thanks for The great info once again Marye!


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