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Moving Honeybee Hives

Updated: Mar 2

Do you ever wonder how Beekeepers move beehives? Take an inside look at Hilltop Honey Co as they share how they move honeybees to different areas to make different varieties of honey.

Bee hives stacked in the back of the truck, ready for relocation.
Strapped, Loaded and Ready to Move

The night before each hive gets a truck strap that will keep the entire hive together during the transport, since the boxes are just stacked up. In the early mornings, the day of the move, long before the sun comes up, a strip of old couch cushion foam is tucked into each bee hive entrance to keep the honeybees inside the hive for the trip.

Bee Hive Entrance Plugged with Foam
Bee Hive Entrance Plugged with Foam

These hives have screened bottom boards, which let the bees regulate temperature during the trip and help them prevent from overheating. This is also the reason for the early morning start, so that the bees are relocated before the heat of the day. The photo on the right shows what a plugged up beehive looks like from our recent relocation. Hive 7 was the heavy hive this season and took several people to get that loaded into the back of the truck for the trip to the new location. We typically drop this on a wheel barrow when we arrive to make it easier to get to the right spot in the new location. Once it setup on a metal stand, we will quickly remove the foam and the honeybees will pour out into the sky. They will realize that they are in a new location and soon start doing their orientation flight to calibrate their selves to their new location, this will ensure they are able to make it back to the hive after they found near by water, pollen and nectar.

Some seasons we have to make repeated trips to the new location as the number of beehives we have really has grown over the last year. At the height of last season, we were up to 12 hives, enough to take to two different locations. This allowed us to make our delicious Appalachian Honey in rural Eastern Kentucky and our gourmet Sourwood Honey in the Mountains of Western North Carolina.

Our favorite thing about moving our bees to the mountains is that they have an opportunity to the bees to have an extended season. In South Carolina the honey flow, only last about six weeks, which means that after that period there are times when there is little blooming for them to work and keep the health of the hive up. Long, hot, and dry summers create additional stresses on the hive that we can avoid by relocating our bees to the mountain areas that offer more flora variety and different blooming cycles. These two locations specifically run about 6 weeks behind and have a much shorter hot and dry period.

We do bring those hives back in the fall to our primary bee yard so we can do really thorough inspections before winter comes, which is the time of year we see colonies collapse for a number of reasons. It is always great to to see the swarms we have caught and relocated, becoming strong and drawing the last frame or two of fresh white wax in September with the last major bloom of Goldenrod.

Fresh Drawn White Bees Wax Honeycomb
Fresh Drawn White Bees Wax Honeycomb

Thanks to Hilltop Honey Co. crew for giving our readers an inside look at how they move beehives to help support stronger hives and make unique delicious honey varieties. Check all of the honey varieties we carry in our Shop.

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