Rotation of a hive?!

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Pope Pius IX

New Bee
May 10, 2020
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Hive Type

Just read the "grumpy bees" thread with interest - a swarm I took last year are feisty to say the least (have been stung a couple of times, and chased quite a number) - though not as bad as the ones described. I'm loathe to just kill them off as they also seem ridiculously good at honey production - I've got two full supers already, which is more than I have ever had from one hive in one season.

But the problem I have is, the siting of my hive (obviously done when housing them, before I knew their character) means that the hive lets out onto the garden. The hive "opens" at 3 o'clock; at 12 and at 6 there are tall objects within three feet of the entrance (the end of a shed, and the fence at the end of the garden.) But at 9 o'clock, the rear of the hive, there's a good three feet before the fence that separates my garden from next door's. I'm now a little worried about going into the garden - I'm been stung once for no reason when simply in the garden, attacked a couple of times for a similar reason, and stung once when inspecting the hive, although in fairness I was probably making a bad go at it. Either way, my 8-year-old is so far really enthusiastic about beekeeping but I reckon a sting will change their mind quickly, so the answer as I see it is to rotate the hive 180 degrees.

I remember reading somewhere that if the bees fly out and have to fly up almost immediately, that's safer in terms of stings anyway, so the first question is, is there anything in this?

The second question is, if I'm going to rotate the hive but not actually change the location of the hive, are there any rules about how to do that? I don't want the bees to fly out, gather nectar, return to where the entrance used to be and then peg out a hive's length from the entrance that I've moved!

The third question is, if rotating them isn't possible or is pointless, I need to take them to my allotment, but that's under three miles away and I can't move it there in three-foot increments, so I'll take it to a field near where I work, which is seven miles away, long does the hive have to remain there before I then transfer them back to my allotment near me?

Thanks all...
I have had similar problems. I have put some fine mesh in front of the hive, a couple of feet away from the entrance forcing the bees up. It confused them initially, but they quickly adapted. The long term aim is to put trellis there instead and grow a climbing plant up it to reduce the gaps further.
I have a 1.8m trellis approximately 50-75 cm in front of the hive entrance which works well. The bees go up and over it on the way out. On the way in they sometimes fly at the trellis and then realise that they need to go up and over it, however most approach from above and then just drop down.

And taking them to an allotment if you share it with other allotmenteers is the last thing you should do.
Suggest a few days watching the bees and a rethink of the risks. It is true that they climb quickly as they leave the hive and a fence / bee-windbreak will tend to protect people from accidental contact with bees leaving the hive. However, they often return at lower altitudes, indeed mine often can be seen returning up the lane at about waist height. A marvellous sight and these are cuddly bees. When I had aggressive bees, the windbreaks made no difference; the horrors just went over or around and attacked. For these monsters, I don't think the hive orientation will produce better-behaved bees. Your description of your bees sounds like you have bees that will follow and will attack. Not good bees for interactions with an eight-year-old. It seems quite common to find that feisty bees produce more honey, but this may be a very dodgy trade-off.
Thanks all for comments. I should probably add, the allotment thing is only possible because all other allotmenteers have been canvassed and are OK with it (the council insisted on a veto for every one) - so whilst it's not ideal I think it's a possibility if all else fails.

Can I just check, jenkinsbrynmair, what "2 points at a time" means? Compass points, yes? So don't turn more than 180 degrees?

My plan is to rotate them 180 degrees, then place trellis at what will then be the back. No idea at all what they'll do but I'll let you know.

I am delayed in implementing this plan because my veil/suit zip has bust and I'm not going near this lot with a hole around the neck (again.) And trying to find a tailor to repair it, at the moment, is a bit tricky.

Anyway, more advice welcomed but it sounds like no-one's taking the "oh dear goodness, no, rotation's just terrible" line, which to be honest is good enough for me...
You can turn them 180 degrees but not in one go. Turn in 45degree increments every few few days. Didn’t you say they were “fiesty to say the least” And that you had been stung?
If the bees start stinging your fellow gardeners you will not be popular.
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Why not just shift them and eliminate stings to your family and neighbours? Take them to that remote place and deal with the queen there. Bring them back when they settle down with a new queen.
I thought about shifting them somewhere, but I'd rather not if it can be avoided. I suppose it could be a further back-up if the rotation and allotment plans fail.

However, wouldn't I need to introduce a new queen, rather than have the queenless colony develop one? The "grumpy bees" thread seemed to indicate that such an action didn't always work. And I don't have the cash to get in a nucleus with a new queen in.

Can anyone help me with the "how long the hive should be at a location for before being moved back to close to the original location" point?
Is there a way of getting queens without buying them that's not too well known? A queen is usually between £25-£40, unless I'm looking at a sort of apicultural Harrods in error...! I can't seem to find any cheaper than that.
It seems that the bees as they are are an accident waiting to happen. As you have a field, available, then move them. Find out how to split the colony, (Queen and flyers in one, younger bees and brood in another; introduce a queen to the Q- part after removing all the queencells and once she is laying and accepted (2 - 3 weeks), kill the dodgy queen and unite with newspaper. Leave for a week. Then you can assess the colony over time and take it home when it's safe.
Is there a way of getting queens without buying them that's not too well known? A queen is usually between £25-£40, unless I'm looking at a sort of apicultural Harrods in error...! I can't seem to find any cheaper than that.

That is about the going price. (£25 is cheap) . Breeder queens are 100's of pounds.
Cheaper way - yes raise your own. Does not have to be complicated. Even taking a frame with a swarm cell out and putting it in a nuc, will give you a new queen. Patience needed as takes time to emerge, mature, mate and lay. Many different methods. Read up and have a go.