How to Move Bees Without Killing Them – Long & Short Distances

As a beekeeper, issues may arise necessitating relocating your beehive. For instance, you may acquire new neighbors close to your compound who are wary of your bees, so you decide to relocate them within your yard. Also, you may be willing to share the rewarding beekeeping art with a new beekeeper. Thus, reasons may vary for moving your beehive.

There are many ways of moving your bees. However, some will be more practical for short and long distances, while others might kill your bees. Therefore, you should be more careful when selecting the appropriate way to move bees without killing them. Fortunately, we’ll discuss various methods of moving bees on long and short distances without killing them. Read on!

How to Move Bees Over a Long Distance: More Than 4 Miles

Here are the steps of moving bees over a distance of more than 4 miles:

  1. Firstly, ensure you and your hive are safe and secure. Then, dress up, buckle up, close the door, and maintain a cool environment.
  2. Secure a trailer or a pickup truck for transporting your bees. Transporting your hive inside a vehicle is not advisable since they can escape and pose great threats to you and anyone inside the vehicle.
  3. Hold your smoker during the transportation.
  4. Ensure your hive sits at a suitable level on your trailer or pickup when placing it for transportation. If you’re transporting a Flow Hive 2, adjust its legs to balance it and keep it steady.
  5. Wrap the hive tightly with durable straps. Ratchet straps are most suitable since they are safe.
  6. After arriving at the desired location, establish your hive, level it, unwrap the straps and uncover the entrance. Your bees will fly out and familiarize themselves with their new habitat.

Just like that, you’d have moved your bees to a new location. 

How to Move Bees Over a Short Distance: 30 Feet to 4 Miles

To move bees for distances between 30 feet to 4 miles, follow these steps:

  1. First, ensure your hive is safe and secure. Then, dress up, buckle up, close the door, and maintain a cool environment.
  2. After preparing your hive, relocate it and establish it in your desired location. Place something at the hive entrance before opening it. For example, placing a branch or hanging a towel against it. 

This will assist the bees in adapting to the new area. When coming out of the hive, they will realize something different, and they will be less probably to go back to their original area.

  1. Even using this approach, some bees may return to their original hive area. When this happens, you can gather them into a box and return them to the new place. You may need to repeat this for a few days to reorient them. 

Alternatively, attempt two long-distance moves. Transfer the bees to a new site greater than 4 miles apart, and allow them to stay there for about 3 weeks. 

Later, return them and set up the hive in the new spot. This will make them forget their original hive site and immediately adapt to the new spot.

How to Move Bees over Very Short Distances: Less than 30 Feet

If you’re moving the bees over a distance of less than 30 feet, follow these steps:

  1. If you aim to relocate your hive at a distance of fewer than 30 feet, you can do it progressively, day after day. For instance, you can relocate the hive not more than 6 feet daily.
  2. Ensure you set up and reinforce the hive using straps. However, you can keep the entry open using this approach.
  3. The bees will initially return to their original site, but the hive is pretty close, so they’ll come back. Further, they won’t find the hive and will return to the new location.
  4. You can move the hive an extra 6 feet on the following day. 

Follow these steps until you establish the hive in the new location. Afterward, the bees will settle down into their new surroundings.

Preparations for Moving Bees

Here are the various ways of preparing for moving bees:

1. Dress up Appropriately

Bees can become restless when moving their hive around. Therefore, it’s essential to put on some protective clothes that may include a full bee suit comprising a veil and gloves when transferring your hive. 

Even after sealing the hive, incidents may arise where bees may escape out, or they may be strollers within that won’t recognize your efforts.

2. Wrap up the Hive

It is essential to ensure your hive stays intact when transporting it. You can use straps to hold the baseboard to the brood box. When transporting them for longer distances, multiple ratchet straps are more efficient. A single strap is enough when moving them for shorter distances.

3. Close the Door or Leave It Open

The distance you are planning to move your hive will determine whether you should close the opening of your hive or not. You can leave your hive open for any distance below 30 feet. Seal up the entrance for anything greater than 30 feet. Moreover, you can blow a few puffs of smoke at the opening of your hive and hold them inside. 

Block the opening once the bees are in using various materials. For instance, some steel wool is effective since it can be easily pushed at the entrance. Alternatively, you can wrap the entrance using some mesh by holding it using staples or tape.

Always shut the roof – the Flow Hive 2 has a plug. If you have a Flow Hive Classic, block the opening in the inner cover; you can easily achieve this using some mesh.

4. Maintain a Cool Environment

You’ll require proper ventilation since beehives tend to heat up quickly. Thus, always ensure suitable air circulation when sealing up your hive. Flow Hives are accompanied by an in-built ventilation system. Ensure you keep it open. Ventilation is fully catered for in case you are using a screened baseboard. 

In other cases, you can use a mesh at the entrance using a tape or staple to hold it. In addition, don’t leave your beehive under direct sunlight for a long time to prevent heating.

5. Select the Right Method

Bees will mostly prefer their hive’s original location. When relocating your hive, you will aim to maintain bees in their new home without returning. Typically, the distance you’re willing to relocate your hive determines the most suitable method. 

For example, if you are willing to move bees to a distance of more than 4 miles, bees won’t realize the new area and are less likely to return to their original location. Similarly, when moving bees for shorter distances below 30 feet, you should opt for the progressive step approach to ensure bees maintain their new hive location.

Why Do I Need to Move Bees?

The following are possible reasons why most beekeepers will move their beehives:

1. Moving into a New Home

At times you may be planning to relocate to a new home due to personal reasons such as preference, job relocation, and security issues. Obviously, you won’t leave your beehives behind. This will necessitate moving your hives to your new home.

2. Danger on Your Hive

Sometimes, you may notice bears and other pests within your hive area. This is a great threat to your overall apiary. Thus, the need will arise to move your hive to a safer location.

3. Sharing the Art

Beekeeping is an interesting and rewarding art that attracts new beekeepers. Therefore, you may have a friend or family member willing to embrace the art and find it worth gifting a hive or two to them. This will require moving the hive to their home and desired location.

When is the Best Time to Move Bees?

There are a few things to consider when it comes to the time to move your bees. They’re as follows:

Move Bees at Dusk

You can move bees at any time of the year but wait until after dark to relocate your hive. Most bee hunters will return to the hive in the daytime. Therefore, waiting until the late hours of the day is suitable to prevent bee stings.

Move Bees during Winter

Winter is also a good time to move bees since they are clustered inside on cold days. You’ll only need to tie together the hive parts and be gentle when handling the hive. Rough handling can trigger bee death since it can easily separate the cluster.

What Should I Do after Moving Bees?

It is suitable to shut the hive multiple days after moving it to the new location. However, you should ensure that your bees have proper ventilation and food. This will make bees easily adapt to the new location.

What Do Bees Do After Being Moved?

Bees will mostly go back to their original hive location on the evening of their relocation. This is because they are highly oriented to their original area. Therefore, you should take the right orientation approach to ensure bees quickly respond to the new area.


Moving bees to a new area can trigger problems for your bees. However, you can easily maneuver using the right approach when an unforeseen need of moving bees arises. This will require choosing the right approach for moving bees depending on the desired distance alongside choosing the best time and location. Thankfully, you’ll conveniently and safely move your bees to a new location with insights from this guide.

Leave a Comment