A few of you might have seen this picture of the arrival of my two new hives last Friday night. Moving bees after dark might seem a bit odd but there are several valid reasons for doing so. The average hive contains about 55,000 bees. Over half of the hive will be out foraging during the daylight hours. In order to move the full colony its best to wait until after dusk when most of the foragers return.
The bees are easily disorientated by vibrations and noise, so even a short move can agitate them. The entrance must be sealed off and the top entrance closed. Hive bodies are strapped together in order to prevent the heavy brood chambers from tipping over. (You can imagine the consequences if that occurs) Bees have an innate sense of direction and will try to return to the location of their hive. Bees navigate by the position of the sun and have an innate sense of polarization which allows the bee to navigate on a cloudy day. The honeybee can range up to two miles so ideally the new location is two miles from the original site. In my case, the hives came from well over that distance. It’s best to let the bees settle in to their new location for at least twenty-four hours. They can remain sealed for up to 72 hours. We did open the top entrance which consists of a small notched slot in the inner cover on arrival for ventilation. I checked activity on my hive after 24 hours and there was little bee activity on one hive and a bit more on the other. Rain and cool temps moved in that night so I left them sealed until the next day. Once I noticed more than twenty bees on the landing of the quieter hive I removed the temporary entrance reducer. The more active hive was circling and crowding the sealed entrance and once removed, they settled right in and went about foraging. Hives are not usually lined up in a row but staggered facing slightly different directions so the bees don’t interfere with the other hive’s landing pattern. A C-shaped positioning is common. So far, my original hive seems oblivious to the arrival of the strangers.