Oregon State Beekeepers Association

Home for Oregon Beekeepers

Beekeeping 101 - Moving Bees

There are some challenges with moving bees. Large bee operations employ flat-bed trucks, hydraulic lifts or fork lifts to pick up pallets of hives. Back yard beekeepers normally do not move their colonies because they are not in the pollination business. Most often hives are moved to be in a better location for better weather exposure or to get them out of a high traffic area where pets or meter readers may walk into a problem.


There are two ways to move a colony. One way is to move them a few inches every day until you get them where you want them. The reason to only move them a few inches a day is because the bees know where their home is. If you move their hive three feet away from its original position the bees return to where the hive used to be. They don't even see that it's the same box just in another place. Their homing instinct is geographically exact. Moving their hive a few inches a day slowly acclimates them to the new location. Moving their hive three feet doesn't register to them.


If you want to move the bees without moving them a few inches a day you will need to go out at night and prepare the hive for a big moove.You will screen any vent holes and screen their entrance so the bees can't escape. You should also use hive staples to attach the bottom board to the first box and then to attach the first box to the next box and then to attach the hive cover. Hive straps are good, but they don't prevent the boxes from sliding and letting the bees out.


Next you will need to move the bees at least two and a half miles from their present location for two weeks. The reason is that if a bee crosses what it knows as a flight path it will return to its former location. In most situations bees rarely travel over a mile away, so having them two and a half miles for two weeks allows them to imprint a new flight path in their brain. After that time you can move them back home and put them where you want them.


Bee boxes can be very heavy. It is always good to have help when moving them.

Return to Beekeeping 101


See a contact list by location of beekeepers who collect swarms of honeybees.


See a contact list of beekeepers who provide pollination services.


Download the Farm Direct Rules PDF document.


Download the OSBA Membership form.


Download the Oregon Dept of Agriculture Hive Registration form.


View or download the Endowment Agreement with Oregon State University.


View instructions for donating to the OSU Endowment for the Northwest Apiculture Fund for Honey Bee Research, Extension and Education.

Many of the forms and documents on this site require the Adobe Acrobat Reader software. It is available for download for free at www.adobe.com.

Download Adobe PDF Reader