Monday, August 15, 2011

Moving the Bees

Although our gentle Italian honey bees were perfectly happy in their new home, unfortunately some of the neighbors around us were not as happy with them. The bees enjoyed their water pools and their hummingbird feeders. So after some complaints, Adam began looking for a new place nearby. Today, the bees moved. Here, you see how Adam strapped the hived closed. He also stapled each box to its adjacent boxes.
Adam and Philip got my dad's car and trailer ready for the move.
The hives are heavy -- full of honey. It takes two to move them.
Loaded into the trailer. I was nervous they might tip over in transit. Swarms of bees along the road! What would the neighbors say then?
At their new home, here is the strip of grass the bees' hives will sit on. The fence goes around their yard and garden.
In this neck of the woods, you need a bear fence around honey hives. Philip digs a post hole for one of the short wooden posts for the fence.
They put the table in first, for the hives to sit on. Here you get a better view of how narrow the spot is -- to the left, it drops of sharply to the road.
Yesterday, Adam closed the bees into the hives in the evening, putting mesh over their opening. They can still get some air, but can't leave the hive.
Two hives in place!
Last hive in place.
Adam takes the straps off.
Here he sprays sugar water into the hive, before opening it. He's opening them all, to give them some yummy sugar water to eat, since he won't release them from their hives until tomorrow night. If he released them now, they would fly directly back to our house, thinking it was still home. They have to be re-oriented to this new place.
This is the solar panel that charges his bear fence. I set it in the sun so it would start to charge up.
Philip finishes attaching the electric solar fence. As Adam added sugar water to the 2nd hive, the bees were very grumpy, and he was stung about 6 times. Philip got one sting.
And here, I'd like to say something in defense of the honey bee. They are normally docile creatures, no matter what the hysterical person may say. If you see a honey bee away from her hive, she won't sting you -- unless you try to kill her. If you swat wildly, or step on her (barefoot) or compress her between your legs or under your arm, then, yes, she'll sting you. But if you leave a honey bee along, she will leave you alone. They aren't interested in you -- they're interested in nectar and pollen.

Often you hear stories of people being attacked or stung by a bee. I think often they don't really know what stung them. It could have been a yellow jacket, or a wasp. But they use the generic "bee" term, and the honey bee gets a bad rap. Honey bees are dwindling in the USA. We have lost half -- half!! -- of our honey bee population in the past 70 years. Modern insecticides kill them. Mites kill them. Diseases kill them. And a horrible thing called "colony collapse" kills them in huge amounts. 80% of our insect-pollinated plants (that's your fruits and vegetables), are pollinated by honey bees. Beekeepers should be encouraged and supported, not complained against and discouraged. 95% of beekeepers in the US are hobbyists or small-time beekeepers. If you don't want bees on your porch, perhaps you should remove whatever food you're putting out there for them. Or better yet -- learn to enjoy watching the bees! They're fun to watch, so industrious and busy. You can sit a couple of yards away from them, and watch them, and they won't bother you. If they don't want you there for some reason, they'll let you know; they'll come and "bump" you -- fly into you. If you insist on staying near them, they'll crawl on you, and then sting you. They give you lots of warning.


  1. We just put in our first hive this past spring....and just a few days ago my husband saw a bear on our road! We hadn't even thought of a bear fence, Hmmm. I hope your bees enjoy their new locale!

  2. I was just thinking about you and your bees today. I was at the fabric/quilting store and my friend and I found many cute bee prints. I hope they like their new home.

  3. So interesting.
    I have a bee question. There are bee hives down the road from us and they are located right next to the highway and every time we drive by, we have bees on our windshield. Why do they want them so close to the road? I feel badly every time we go by there knowing we are killing bees.

  4. I understoon that the fear of the bees was not the main complaint - it was that the exterminator would not kill the carpenter bees because the honey bees were there, which is against the law. I'm so glad they are protected. I was hoping for some sourwood honey!

  5. We've been enjoying as many as 18 honey bees at one time drinking from our cat's water pan. It is extremely dry here. They arrive at the pan with thin abs and leave plump. They fly directly toward a tree Jim has always suspected held a hive. It is near a corn crib on the farm. They've not bothered me even though I've had to connect and disconnect the hose from the faucet right above the pan. They are fun! Thanks for the photos!

  6. Jody - I'll have to ask Adam. Good question! That doesn't seem to make sense? Are they there permanently? Some hives are only temporary, and may have been dropped there only for pollination short-term.

    Hunter, that was one issue, but there was also a lot of fear involved as well.

    Sharon, that's neat! They are really fun to watch. Don't you wish you could sneak a peak inside that tree?


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