Moving Bees

The Land

Alfalfa, water, rabbitbrush and great view.

Well it’s that time of year again. The native floral sources have dried up. So, the bees must be moved into the agricultural areas. With almost three more months of flying weather, the bees would perish without suitable pasture. And now it’s only found where man irrigates the land and raises alfalfa.

Later rabbit brush, a native plant, will bloom and offer late fall nourishment much like goldenrod does for bees in the rest of the country. It’s rare. But it’s found in some of the better and wetter soil profiles. A good late summer site needs agriculture and it’s water. And it needs access to rabbitbrush.

I think I’ve found just such a site. They’re hard to find. It’s about 20 miles from my spring yard. Here’s what the area looks like.

And best of all the land is owned by some real nice Wyoming folks. Bill and June promptly welcomed me into their home and invited me to dinner. A warm and genuinely friendly conversation ensued. After dinner Bill, the farm dog and I took a truck ride to look at potential beeyard locations. People like Bill and June are getting harder to find. And it’s especially so as populations increase and put more abusive pressure on rural land owners and their land. People like Bill and June restore my faith in humanity.

The Move

One little red toy bee truck loaded and ready to go.

So, now everything is set. All that planning done since last October will be put to the test. I’ve replaced my odd hive assortment with double deep Langstroths which can be broken down to allow lifting them. I’ve got my toy truck and hand cart. I’ve cut some entrance screens and I’m ready to go. Don’t forget the drinking water or the shovel.

Moving bees is always a pain. They crawl rather than fly. And they can crawl everywhere. It’s easy to drop or break a hive apart getting stung up process.

Timing is everything when moving bees. I used to move bees late at night. But I’ve found that it’s better to move them at the latest possible time before sunrise. It’s cooler. The bees are calmer having a maximum amount of time to settled down. And it’s easier to navigate in the morning twilight.

A couple of puffs of smoke. Insert the entrance screens. Wheel the hives to truck. Lift and load. No need to break the hives apart. No dropped hives. No crawling bees. No problem man. Not all moves go this smooth and I’m thankful for this one.

And having a toy truck is an advantage. Unlike the commercial bee work I used to do, where a truck would hold hundreds of hives and take much time and effort. A toy truck is quickly and easily loaded. It will take two trips to move my yard. But it’s a nice break and a great time for this old guy to recoup.

The Yard

Well, it’s supposed to be easier to navigate at night. Not desiring to wake up the whole farm at 5 AM, I’ve taken an alternate trail to the beeyard rather than directly through the farm yard. I’ve never traveled it before and I’ve missed a turn. A little backtracking and I’m on the trail again which takes me directly to a big mud hole. A drainage ditch has washed out and flooded about 30 feet of the road. Stop or go? I gun it and go for it. It’s got a soft bottom, but I make it through. Next time through I’ll go a little faster. Glad I’ve got that shovel just in case.

All that gunning and splashing noise have got those farm dogs excited. And they’re over a mile away.

So, it’s a couple puffs of smoke in each entrance. Lift and load. Wheel and place them. A couple more smoke puffs and entrance screens are removed. Handfuls of grass are placed over each entrance to force the bees to re-orient.

And it looks like a few of them are ready to explore their new location. So, it’s time to go and not confuse them with my presence.

The sun is up. The bees are unloaded. I’m on the other side of the mud hole. Here’s one lucky, but tired beeman.

A little faster through the mud hole. Made it. But after four trips though the mud hole, the bottom is gone. So, I won’t come this way again until the ditch is fixed. Or I will get a chance to play with my shovel.  🙂

I’ve enjoyed meeting Bill and June. Getting up early. Loading the bees and waking the dogs. It’s a great change of pace. Best of all, unlike last year,  it’s satisfying knowing the bees are in the best possible situation.

Not all moves are as trouble free and easy as this one.