small bee

From time to time it may be necessary to move a hive. You may be moving house, carrying out renovations, or a tree has fallen on your beehive (yes, that has happened!) The old rule is that you can move a beehive three feet or three miles. The reason for this is that bees orientate themselves to landmarks around your hive. When the hive is moved a long way they will re-orientate themselves to new landmarks, but if they are within range of the old landmarks they will drift back to where they came from. On a sunny day this can have the effect of a ghost hive, bees swirling above the footprint of the ex-hive. As the temperature drops, bees may cluster on the ground or a nearby branch and chill (not hang out – actually die!)

The best time to move a hive is in winter, the hive is relatively small and light and there are fewer foraging bees. They are less likely to leave the hive in cool temperatures. If you have to move a hive and you can’t take it far away, then moving it a metre every couple of days will reduce your losses.