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How To Move A Colony of Bees
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 slowly...no 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.
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.