Moving hives in winter

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JonnyPicklechin 

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I am due to move 8 hives of various weights (5 healthy colonised nationals, 3 poly NUCs) from one site to another, distance 2 miles, travel time, 15 mins-ish.

Given it will be chilly, are there special instructions in relation to the bees' clustering? They'll be disturbed with the physical move and this will break up clusters. Should I pick a warmish day or does it not matter? Obviously they'll be well ratchet strapped and entrances closed off etc
 

Erichalfbee 

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I am due to move 8 hives of various weights (5 healthy colonised nationals, 3 poly NUCs) from one site to another, distance 2 miles, travel time, 15 mins-ish.

Given it will be chilly, are there special instructions in relation to the bees' clustering? They'll be disturbed with the physical move and this will break up clusters. Should I pick a warmish day or does it not matter? Obviously they'll be well ratchet strapped and entrances closed off etc
Just don't throw the boxes about and drive carefully. They will be fine.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Unless we are in the middle of an extreme sub zero episode where bees will struggle to rejoin the cluster if dislodged, they'll be fine - doubtful we'll get that yet even 'the beast from the East' was more hype than hypothermia.
 

Erichalfbee 

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We have storm Arwen on the way though.
 

oliver90owner 

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As usual, not an excess of joined-up thinking from those who think moving is a problem. The beekeeper should be easily able to carry out this operation without disturbing the bees or risking losing bees.

Bees don’t tightly cluster when the hive temperature is above about 7 Celsius. Bees drop off the cluster if they get much below 8 Celsius. It is surprisingly difficult to shake bees from frames which are close together.

The ‘beast from the east’ occurred late Feb - early March. Likely a lot of colonies had started brooding prior to its arrival. That would have caused havoc from either isolation starvation or for the colony being unable to access water (needed for all those squashy larvae) at a time when pollen may well have normally been available. Rather different to moving bees in winter.

OP has the opportunity to select a suitable time for moving? Easy, if so - just pick a warmer day!

The hives could even be left in a warm vehicle to warm the hives sufficiently such that the bees will be active.

This is another case where an OMF is useful - no problems with ventilation, even if the colonies were closed up, for some time, in a warm area.

The points about swinging frames should not be a problem - the frames should be quite stable at this time of the year if the bees have been properly prepared for winter, but always better safe than sorry.

The average travel speed is given as 8mph - unless the 2 miles is as the crow flies and the journey is much longer. Again, only the OP knows which.

Swarm likely got it about right, but the beekeeper should always be prepared to modify a plan if conditions change. If a problem is even likely to arise, a tiny bit of thinking should offer at least one alternative, to avouid that problem ever developing.
 

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