So I decided last night to begin the slow process of moving my hive and today is the first day in the first of three temporary locations. The rule of thumb when moving bees is either move them within three feet or move them at least three miles. The other option is to not follow the rule of thumb, but then I’d need to close them in for three days and I don’t want to do that now when it’s so hot as I fear I wouldn’t have sufficient ventilation for them.

I thought I’d selected a good location for the hive where it receives morning sun, some shade from the afternoon sun, and protection from wind. Turns out that it is also a high traffic area for the birds that come to use the feeders and the top is getting covered in bird poop. I don’t think the bees mind, but I certainly do. There are other reasons to move, which I’ll discuss more in later posts.

The total distance I want to move is about 12 feet, so I’ll need to break that into four smaller moves spread out over a few weeks. I was a little concerned, wondering how they’d figure out that their home had been moved. Hives don’t normally just walk away, so it didn’t seem to be something a bee would simply adjust to naturally. Applying the idea to us, what would you do if you woke up one morning, stepped out your front door, only to find your surroundings had completely changed? How quickly would you notice?

Wanting to understand these fascinating creatures a little better, I did some quick research online regarding their orientation process and how they know where home is. One suggestion was to place branches in the area of the hive entrance to trigger the bees to reorient as they would naturally if a branch or something fell over a hive that was in a tree. I broke some sage flower stalks from a nearby plant and placed these over the entrance. I’m not sure this was necessary since I only moved them about two and a half feet, but I wanted to be cautious and considerate of my bees.

This morning I’ve kept a close eye on the hive. Major fail on my part: the sage stalks touched the ground allowing those pesky ants another access point. I tidied up my branches so that they no longer reach the ground, but still covers the various points of entry so the bees notice something is different. I’ve noticed them exiting and then turning towards the hive and doing their fast zig-zag flight around the exit, similar to what I saw them do the first day they were here and how they seem to investigate me when I’m working around the hive. I assume this is them reorienting.

Sage branches placed over the entrance to signal a change to the bees.

I’ve also noticed more activity and more bees returning with full pollen baskets than before. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps you have some ideas! Could it be related to the move? Or the warm weather? Or just the time since the hive has been established? I hope we’ll learn more over the next few weeks.