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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a Master Beekeeper! Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.


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Monday, February 27, 2012

Beekeepers Creeping in the Middle of the Night

What do beekeepers do in the dark of the night? We move bee hives!

A kind woman named Lisa who studied about beekeeping with Don Kuchenmeister in Lula, Georgia and who got these bees from the Georgia bee lab donated this hive to the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers for our hive inspection program. She lives in Lilburn, about a 35 minute drive from Julia's house.

Immediately after work tonight, skipping dinner, I drove to Julia's house, we loaded up the car with what we needed, and drove to Lilburn to get these bees. For those of you who don't know, bees are ideally moved at night because all of the foragers are home for the evening and it's a calmer move than trying in the day time.

The hive is one of those English garden hives with the lovely rooftop. Here's how it looked before we moved it.



I had been worrying about it all day - it was potentially 160 pounds of bees and honey and boxes. Lisa said her driveway was quite steep, and it's easy to make errors when one is tired at the end of the day. It turned out that the biggest challenge of moving this hive was backing down Lisa's steep driveway.


We brought flashlights, a staple gun, screened wire to staple the entry, and our bee gear, just in case. Noah is stapling the entry closed with screened wire in this picture.


Julia strapped the hive together with her hive strap. And then we loaded it into Julia's car. It wasn't very heavy and although it looked like Julia, Noah and I were all carrying it, actually the two of them had all the weight so I let go to take this picture.


Below you can see Lisa and Noah. We are so grateful to Lisa for donating this hive since we have no bees at the Blue Heron and the inspections for our club are about to begin. Lisa also gave us an eight frame hive that we will use for bee inspections at Chastain Park, if we get permission to keep bees there. (Have I told you all about Chastain Park Conservancy and our dreams of having bees there? - if not, I'll post soon.)


Then in the dark of night we drove to the Blue Heron (after a quick stop at Chick Fil-A so I could get something to eat, having skipped dinner). We were a little scared - after all, there has been vandalism at our Blue Heron hives and it was 9:00 PM by this time. Noah told us loud and funny stories as we walked guided by flashlight up into the apiary to make sure our cinder blocks were placed OK.

We set the hive up and then put some vegetation on the landing entry so the bees would orient themselves when they fly tomorrow.





Here are Julia and Noah in the dark beside our newest hive. We faced it east and hope it will live and thrive.


Noah, who will be chief in charge of this particular hive, checked with the level on his phone to see if the hive were level. Satisfied that it was level enough, we went home. I got back to my house at 10:10…..what a long day, but so fulfilling to end it this way.

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8 comments:

  1. What does putting vegetation on the landing board do? Does it just make them slow down and realize their in a different location rather than flying out in habit? Thanks!

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  2. Yes, any time you move a hive in the night, you want to help the bees realize that they are in a new location. If there's "stuff" on the landing, then they reorient before they leave since the hive looks different to them than it did the day before.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Thanks for taking the time to answer! We're just beginning our second year of beekeeping and are still overflowing with questions.

      And sorry about the their/they're error up there. Doh. *forehead smack*

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  3. Nice pictures, moving bees at night is the way to do it. Look forward to reading more of your blogs. Great content.
    Brad
    https://bradleydrake.wordpress.com

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  4. How could they populate the beehive in the new locations? Does that affect their re-pollinations? Do they have time for embarking large amount of honey in new locations? I was just wondering about that.

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  5. I'm not sure I understand your questions. The bees should thrive in the new location. As they do wherever a hive is located, scout foragers will be looking for nectar and bringing word back through dance to the other foragers in the hive so that the forager bees can collect nectar and honey. In the process, as bees do everywhere, they will pollinate flowers, trees and crops that they use as sources of nectar and pollen. The nectar flow in Atlanta starts in April so they have plenty of time to collect nectar for honey in the new location....exactly the same amount of time they would have had in the old location.

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  6. There's something so uncanny about driving with a hive in one's car, isn't there?

    So, the sound and vibration of the staple gun don't bother the bees? (We use masking tape.)

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