Moving bees

A few weeks ago I moved my two little colonies in nuc boxes to a new location nearer to home. I’d never had to move bees before, so asked other beekeepers for tips beforehand and as luck would have it the BBKA News that landed through my door that day had an article all about moving bees.

The main thing with moving bees is make sure the bees can’t get out.

Earlier in the day I had put ventilated travel screens on top of both nucs, then left their roofs resting on them just in case it rained (it didn’t). Around 9pm, as the darkness of evening was drawing in, I returned and turned the dial at their entrance to the ventilation only setting. Very quick and easy. I had a kind helper with strapping the boxes together and moving them up to the car.

I haven’t been driving that long, and never with bees, so was a little nervous, particularly going over bumpy country lanes. I hadn’t anticipated the sound of the bees hitting the travel screen as they repeatedly flew up.

The roads I was driving down were very quiet at that time of night, so much so that for about the first fifteen minutes I only passed a couple of other cars. Was nice to be able to take it slowly without worrying about other drivers.

None of the bees got out, and they are now settled in nicely. One recently hatched queen is now laying and the other colony appears to be queenless, so I’m planning to combine them this week. I will need to think of a new Cornish name for the queen, a long dark beauty. Any suggestions?

As I was inspecting over the weekend I heard a sudden thud and something landed on the ground next to the hive. When I looked more closely, it was a baby bird, hairless and still. A baby blackbird perhaps. Its huge eyes were now permanently closed. I suddenly thought of my own children at a day old, so vulnerable and delicate. By the next day, its skeleton had been stripped to the bone. Somehow, life keeps going, and the remaining blackbirds keep flying.

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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9 Responses to Moving bees

  1. disperser says:

    I suggest Oilel . . .


  2. Well done for the nuc’s safe journey. When we have to move a nuc sometimes the temperature even at night can be problematic and some of them decide to spend the night al fresco. We take a small hand sprayer with cold water and a quick squirt makes them think it is raining and they dive inside. Some of the swarms we had must have had virgin queens and they took a long time before they started to lay so do not be too quick to unite. I do not understand why it was like that this year. Amelia


    • Emily says:

      That’s a good tip Amelia. I can imagine the temperature could be a good 10-20 degrees hotter at night where you are than here. Interesting about your virgin queens.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How about Korenza..? Was it recently you moved them? ive been planning to move one of mine but the location i have in mind is less than 3k away


    • Emily says:

      Hi Johnny, I ended up selling them, trying to downsize a bit at the moment. Hopefully will have more time/space to keep more colonies in a few years time!


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