We are past the solstice now and the bees are moving’ right along, both literally and figuratively. I’m not one for music, but indulge me and listen to kermit as we hum along into the summer.
The swarm season appears to be behind us. We have a new laying queen in all our our full hives now. Last week we made the jump and moved a hive to NH. Why move the hive? I asked myself that several times as I was getting ready. What seemed like a brilliant way to expand the apiary in mid-winter now seemed like a troublesome way to spend a summer’s evening. The original plan we laid out was to move two hives to NH for honey production. The hives would go to Bearcamp Pond Rd where an abundance of forage along the river and in the fields would hopefully net tons of honey. With a name like ‘Bearcamp’ we had some preparing to do. With much thanks to my Dad we built an electric fence. The fence uses a basic 12V charger from Tractor Supply. It has four wires, 3 hot and a ground. For bees the 12V battery will last quite a while (most likely all summer) as the fence is very short in comparison to the miles of horse fence.
The hive to be moved was on the end. It had 2 supers and 2 deep hive bodies and a newly marked laying queen. at 34″ high it just fit into the back of the truck under the truck cap.
Hive all closed up ready to be loaded.
Moving a hive is both harder and easier than you’d expect. It was easier to get the bees in it. We simply waited until very late evening and taped a screen over the entrance, a few pieces of duct tape over the upper entrances, and voila, a hive ready to move. In addition to the strap around it we adding another strap around the front to ensure the hive bodies would not shift. A good item to note is that we did NOT open the hive for 2 days before we moved it. This kept the bees happy and gave them plenty of time to propolize the boxes together.
I don’t have any shots of the hive getting loaded, as it takes 2 people to lift it leaving no one to document. I will say that a hive lifter is invaluable for this step. After I got over the anxiousness of getting loaded (no stings! no mad bees! hive fit in truck!) I was able to mostly enjoy the drive over to NH.
Sunset over Sebago lake during bee transport
(yes, I stopped, I don’t drive and photograph!)
I took it a bit slower than normal as I was worried about my ‘contents shifting during flight’ but it worked out just fine. By the time I got to NH it was dark, so once again no photos. The unloading went alright. I started the smoker and removed the duct tape and screening so the bees could fly at first light. Last time we moved the bees they came out and stung me at the removal but this hive was a lot mellower and didn’t seem to mind. I went back in the morning to check on them.
The bees’ new home – picture perfect
Here is a view of the hive location. Pretty much picture perfect. You can see they are in the middle of a field with plenty of forage. they are also next to the river for water. A lot of people don’t realize bees need water, and they will go looking for it in swimming pools or puddles or anywhere they can if you don’t give them easy access! Here’s a closer look at the hive.
All settled inside the fence.
While the location is fairly rural I did put up a sign with my contact info on the fence. Just in case any curious onlookers wanted to know. NH does not have a required ‘bee registration’, although some states do, but it is considered a ‘best practice’ to put your contact information on all your beehives. I don’t have any contact info on the ones at our house; clearly you could just shout to the kitchen window with questions, but as we look into expanding I wanted to do it right.
By all reports the bees are flying well and enjoying the new home. They were moved exactly one week ago. I plan to go check on them in the next few days. Getting established was the hard part. After that they should be fine to leave for a month or so while they happily make honey!