4 Safety Tips for Moving Beehives

There are many reasons why beekeepers move their hives. If you’re moving to a new home, doing some landscaping work, or you simply wish your bees were in a better location, it’s important to know how to successfully relocate your colonies. Bees are creatures of habit, so if you don’t take care of them—and yourself—during this disruptive time, you can run into problems down the road. For the well-being of both you and your bees, here are our safety tips for moving beehives.

Bee Memory

When it comes to your bees’ health, one of the most important safety tips for moving beehives is to move it less than three feet or more than three miles. This is because bees orient themselves to their hive’s location. If their new hive is in a familiar place but hard to find, they’ll likely just return to their original location or another nearby hive.


No matter where you’re moving your bees, it’s important to time the journey right. Move your hive after dusk or at night. This way, most of the bees have returned to the hive for the day, which means you’re less likely to leave stragglers behind. This is especially important in the summer, when higher temperatures can lead to your bees overheating inside their hive. If it’s hot, be sure to block your hive’s entrance with mesh or another material that allows for ventilation.

You can also relocate a hive in the winter, but you should take extra care not to jostle the hive during the move. Bees form a cluster within the hive in order to keep warm, and too much movement can cause them to fall from the cluster and freeze.

Short Distances

If you plan to move your hive a short distance, you’ll need to do it in small increments to give your bees time to reorient themselves to their new location. Wear protective gear and enlist a friend or two to help you lift the hive. You don’t have to completely strap down the hive, but it’s a good idea to double-check that the beehive frames and lid are secure. You can also block the entrance of the hive—just make sure the hive won’t overheat when you do so.

Long Distances

When you move your hive over three miles away, you’re far enough from your bees’ original flying range that they are forced to start fresh and reorient themselves. This means you don’t have to worry about bees getting lost or joining new colonies. However, longer journeys are far more disruptive for your bees. To make it as stress-free as possible, put up your hive stands ahead of time and make sure your transport vehicle is in good shape and full of gas so you can minimize stops. Be sure to secure the hives so there’s as little movement and jostling as possible.

To make the journey as safe as possible, it’s essential that you have all the right beekeeping equipment in order. If you’re in need of bee hive frames, for instance, look no further than Kelley Beekeeping.

3 thoughts on “4 Safety Tips for Moving Beehives

Leave a Reply to Matt K. Cancel reply

  1. Gary Glaenzer

    Ratchet straps ( 4 for $ 9.99 plus tax @ Home Depot) are the best way to keep your hives together during a move.
    If your hive stands consist of concrete blocks, orient them front-to-back, and after the move, run the ratchet strap thru the holes in the blocks and over the top of the hive.
    Keeps them a bit safer from tip-over type of vandalism, and a lot safer from high winds.

  2. Jim Patterson

    I need to reorganize some hive in a yard this winter. Some of the hives need to be moved more than the (3) feet.Can we screen the entrances on a warm day after dark and move them the following day.and leave them screened? If this is advisable how long do we keep the entrance screened?

  3. Matt K.

    I’ve been moving large quantities of honeybees since 2014. If you are going to move honeybees you need to KNOW how to safely do it. I’ve been stung up really badly on a load of over 100 hives on a pup trailer in the middle of the night and the end-results were NOT pretty.

    If you are NOT doing a split. But moving the whole hive. You should ONLY move the hives at the Crack of Dawn. So foragers are NOT left behind. During the day time, In the confusion they WILL sting bystandards because they are stressed. If it has to be a daylight move. A person can buy a Nuc and leave it behind, the foragers will want to be in the box. Then you can bring them to their new home, when you can.

    If you are doing splits of any size. The double screens actually work really well. A person can put the box down on a double screen board and have the strap underneath. once the box is on the screen. Put the lid on, the strap and load it into the truck. I generally put a WET towel at the base of the screen for the bees to have water. Double screens save me ALOT of time. It is good to stock up on them.

    Sideliners and Commercial:
    if you are moving larger loads you can get meshed tarps (basically large nets) from the big box hardware stores and Farm stores these days, from the Tarp section. They work all the same as the ones TRS and A.H. Have. They are smaller.

    Set your hives on a TRAILER that you have in that specific yard during the afternoon, and finish loading 1.5 hours BEFORE dark. Be certainly to evenly load your hives over the entire axle group(s). If your trailer or truck does NOT have air suspension. Expect losses. Highways are ROUGH on bees. I never load my trucks above the cab. So the center of gravity is lower. I see guys do this and I always wonder if dollars vs the risk is worth it.

    Next, Right at the crack of dawn. Pull your net or tarp over the hives. NEVER during the night time. use bungee cords at the BASE of the hives.Surrounding the entire base of the load. If your trailer has gaps or grooves you need to seal them with Gorilla Tape or caulking PRIOR to your load, a few days ahead of time. Hook your trailer and begin pulling the load. it is best to stop within the first 10 miles to Check the straps once more and the cords. There always seams to be something that was overlooked. On larger loads we use what are known as V-boards which can be made from old straps and lumber. Sometimes these can slip off.

    Stopping for Water is crucial. If you are on a hot day. Your bees will need to be sprayed DOWN Often. Finding water at truck stops is difficulty as you will notice the fuel islands don’t all have water stations for them to fill their squeegee sumps. I always carry a set of small-hydrant keys with me (not the ones for the big red things, thats unlawful). So if I have to stop at a city park for water I can. most people don’t bother a person hauling honeybees. But it is always best to ask.

    Loading at nights is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and honeybees do NOT tolerate their homes being messed with. Even if you used a RED floodlight and were in a completely enclosed Bobcat unit. They still can find their way in and make your day very, very bad. As well as put your safety at RISK.