Moving Bees Off A Rooftop Intact
Yesterday, Joe from Crystal Bee Supply came over to help Brian and I move a hive off my rooftop apiary to a new bee yard. Joe and his family have been keeping bees for 30 years and currently have over 200 hives in Essex County, MA. They also sell bees, honey and bee supplies to local beekeepers. His family has helped me out in a bee equipment emergency on more than one occasion. If you are a local beekeeper I encourage you to visit their store in Peabody. If you are new to beekeeping it is great to see all the equipment in person before buying it. As an added bonus you get the professional mentoring advice they provide to all their customers.
Brian, Joe and I were moving bees from Borage hive, a colony that derived from a swarm caught in May 2012. Borage built out three deeps of comb and stores their first season – quite impressive. This colony resides in my rooftop apiary, which is on a flat roof 8 feet above a deck. The only way to get to the apiary is by going up a ladder from the deck or through a window on the second floor. Borage was not going to fit through a window (not that I would want to do that anyway) which meant this heavy three deep hive (full of stores for the winter and weighing 150-200 lbs) needed to come down the ladder and onto the deck intact.
On Saturday night I taped over the inner cover hole and screened off the bottom of the hive with a moving screen. If you need to move bees this moving screen is well worth the money. I bought one at EAS and my husband Brian made more for all my hives, including the nucs. I have used them countless times since then. The moving screen has three entrances that you can open or close. When installed, it leaves a gap in front of the hive opening (blocked by a screen), which allows adequate ventilation to get to the bees and even space where they could form a small beard inside it, if needed. I usually just tape the moving screen to the hive with duct tape, but for more security you could also screw it onto the hive.
It was cold on Saturday night, so after my bees were all inside the hive in a cluster, I closed them up. In the morning, the bees were all locked inside the hive until after they were moved to the new location. This ensured I would not leave any of these girls behind. On Sunday, Brian and Joe strapped the hive together with a ratchet strap and used Joe’s hive moving tool to carry it over to the ladder. That’s when it got interesting. With Brian on the roof and Joe on the ladder, Brian lowered the hive down to Joe who first balanced it on his head (I wish I had a picture of that) before grabbing it to move it down to the deck.
Surprisingly it went much smoother than any of us thought.
I got the easy job of taking pictures – lucky me!
After it was on the deck, it was easy to move with two strong guys and the hive moving tool. This tool locked into the hand holds of the hive to lift it up. It made moving this hive relatively easy with two people.
Borage was then strapped into Joe’s truck for a speedy trip to the orchard. One sharp turn later and the top-heavy hive tipped over slightly. Traveling behind Joe and seeing this happen in slow motion was nerve-racking but it was quickly fixed and we were on our way.
Once we arrived at the new bee yard, we found the girls a nice east facing spot with plenty of sun and noon time shade.
These bees now have access to fruit trees, golden rod, maples and even a large farm 1/2 mile down the road.
I think they will be happy here in their new home. In the spring, I may even bring them a friend to join in the pollinating fun.
Other Posts You May Enjoy:
- Bee Swarm Call 3– “There’s A Bee Swarm In My Bushes”
- Picking Up The Package Bees
- Mass Bee Field Day 2012
- Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference
- Make A Candy Board For Winter Feeding
This post was shared on the Down Home Blog Hop.