Needing to move my bees from the allotment, I sought the help of a friend, Anne, who used to keep bees but gave up years ago but is now tempted to re-start. I had difficulty last evening in preparing the bees for the move as there was ivy growing up the stand and the side of the hive and I spotted an extra entrance in the corner where there was some decay to the brood box. I searched everywhere for duct tape and eventually found a reel of poor quality stuff which seemed not to stand up very well to bee-pressure from within as they soon created a new exit.

I had a couple of car blankets in the back of the car so I fetched them and bound them over the hive with elastic binders, by this time working by torchlight. On my back down the path my portable telephone rang. It was Anne, responding to a message I had left on hers some hours earlier. Luckily she was free in the morning and we agreed to meet at 9am. She still has her bee tunic.

This morning she was there before me. We inspected the hive. There were some bees outside but little activity as the weather was cool. However, as soon as we tried lifting the hive by the straps, the movement agitated them and more appeared. We dropped the hive into the upturned roof and that seemed to have blocked their entrance.

Those that were out became aggressive and I wish I had worn wellies as they stung through my socks. A couple of bees found their way to the inside of my veil and I have no idea how. I squashed them before they could sting me. Gradually, a few paces at a time, Anne and I, sharing the load, moved the hive down the path and into the back of the car. I drove down the track with the back door open so as to lose as many bees as possible.

Most of the flyers had gone by the time we got to the road and so I took my veil off to drive the couple of miles to Frogmore, an organic farm where I have an apiary tucked away in a corner, uncomfortably close to a large badger sett. There was no livestock in the adjoining field this time so I drove across it close to the apiary, then spent some minutes undoing the badger-proof fence and preparing the new site, closer than ideal to the hive already there.

Anne and I again shared the load and we installed it on the stand. I undid the straps, removed the blankets, added a roof, tore back some of the tape at the entrance and we retreated, leaving it until this evening to re-do the fence. I put the bee suit in the washing machine as soon as I got home as it had collected numerous stings and I didn’t want the smell to attract more the next time I wore it.

Having been reminded of the weight of box hives, Anne is now interested in learning about top bar hives and so I shall take her with me when next I go to Sarah’s to introduce her to them.

I shall transfer the bees we moved into a better brood box before too long. From the weight I don’t think they’ll need feeding.


About chrissladesbeeblog

I have been keeping bees since 1978 and currently have about a dozen hives. I am a member of the BBKA where for many years I represented Dorset at the Annual Delegates' Meeting. I am the co-author (with Dave MacFawn of of S. Carolina) of "Getting the Best from Your Bees" and am working on a book of my own poems : "Bee People".
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  1. Emily Scott says:

    Sounds like a tricky process, glad you got out alive.

  2. Anne Clements says:

    It was a pleasure to be asked to assist so soon after letting Chris know that I would like to get back “into bees”. He is being rather generous about the amount of lifting I did as I think he took most of the weight and had to manage the whole hive over the trickiest bits. From this I learned that putting your hive somewhere isolated is good for security but easier access makes for easier moving! We had great weather for this move and only lost a few bees at the allotment site – let’s hope they find somewhere else to rest their heads. The dramatic bit was Chris lifting the blankets off the hive when it was in situ. This I watched from a relatively safe distance after the bees started to emerge in largish numbers. Chris braved it out until he’d managed to clear all the ties etc. and he left me with the fence and tie to do. The next time I looked up to see him he was down the field trying to free himself of bees! After getting stung once bending over to try and tie up the fence we decided it would be better to leave them to settle and for Chris to come back and make them badger-proof later in the day. I was glad I wore wellingtons and had thick smooth trousers on otherwise I think I would have suffered more stings, they were certainly pinging off my veil in a most determined manner. The washing up gloves didn’t do anything to add to the professional look, but they worked! I really enjoyed my first rather dramatic encounter with beekeeping, with many thanks to Chris for giving me the opportunity. Looking forward to more bee-related outings.

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