On one of the many beekeeping forums I’m a part of on facebook, I happened to stumble across a post from a woman who was having to sell off all of her beekeeping supplies and two hives due to a severe allergy she had developed. She and I touched base and almost exactly 24 hours later, my husband and I were on a two hour road trip to collect our new hives!
It worked out because it happened to be our wedding anniversary (9 years!), so the grandparents were already planning to babysit. We just finagled an overnight for the boys, threw our equipment in the car, and were on our way!
Now, you have maybe never wondered about when the best time of day is to pick up a beehive and move it, so I’ll tell you! During the day, many of to the bees are out foraging, so it is ideal to wait until dark, then seal up the entrance. This way you gain the maximum number of bees. With the entrance sealed you can transport without fear of losing any. The owner of these bees did not feel comfortable closing them up due to her allergy (and I don’t blame her), so our plan was to arrive at hive #1 around dusk. We knew there may still be a few bees hanging out on the outside of the hive, but most would be inside. The second hive was about 40 minutes from the owner’s home, so we’d grab that one last.
I happen to know that bees are kind of cranky around dusk. I know this because I have two small children and sometimes beekeeping needs to happen after they go to bed: around 8:30. We have often joked about hives becoming Africanized after dinnertime (Africanized honeybees are incredibly aggressive).
As suspected, there were many bees hanging out on the outside of the hive. We smoked many in, but we had to just resign to the fact that a few would be outside. The problem with these bees outside of the hive was that they were the first ones to be severely annoyed by our presence. My husband was wearing only jeans, boots, his bee jacket, veil, and gloves and was lucky enough to sustain (earned?) about 15 stings over the course of moving the first hive (mostly through his jeans). I only sustained one sting because, well, I wasn’t the one drilling into the hive! In addition to the time of day, a couple other things ticked them off: (1) the entrance reducer was stuck kind of half in and half out and we really had to yank and pry and jostle to get that out. That seemed to be the first offense (in their opinion). (2) Drilling a covering over the entrance also ticked those few exterior bees off.
Once we got our hands on a bottle of sugar water, and were able to spray them, things calmed down considerably. When misted with sugar water, the bees become much more interested in licking that up than stinging my husband.
We then used ratchet straps to secure the three boxes together:
And then we just lifted it up and carried it to the truck…
We then we headed out to hive #2. This one was in a field and we used our headlamps (set on red light) and the light of car headlights to make the move, so I don’t have pictures.
I can tell you that my husband did include a special anniversary “gift” while we were preparing hive #2. Inside the hive on top of the frames the owner had a feeder. We lifted the top of the feeder off (the jug that contained the sugar water), but the tray that the water drips into was stuck to the hive because bees cover everything with propolis. My husband scooted his hive tool underneath to pry it up and the whole thing flung up, out of the hive, and hit me right in the face. I mean, not really because I had my veil on, but it was full of bees and then my veil was full of bees. That’s what 9 years of marriage will get ya… a face full of bees! haha!
Anyway, in addition, we added additional boxes, frames, feeders, a smoker and many other beekeeping odds and ends to our collection! It was a late night, but definitely a great addition to our growing business. The apiary is now up to 9 hives in total: 5 complete hives and 4 nucs (mini-hives).