So I said I was going to talk about getting the hives ready for winter in this issue. I lied. Of course when i said that I did not anticipate work telling me to pack up and drag all my worldly good seven hours north. Don't get too upset, this is valuable information as well. Plus, I will talk about winter prep next time.
I really wish I would have taken a load of pictures to help illustrate this. At the same time that is like wishing you had video of your failed bank robbery. As it stands all the incriminating evidence will have to be written.
Moving bees is done all the time, literally ALL THE TIME. Just not by me, Thank goodness because nothing would get pollinated.
Again this little adventure began with work informing me that I can move or find employment elsewhere. This was actually a harder decision that you would think. Aside from bees I have kids and a wife. None of them wanted to move. I didn't either. I think the lure (precog pun) of good trout fishing may have had something to do with the final decision but don't tell me wife. To my wife: "Theses are not the droids you are looking for".
As it stood, I realized I would have to haul my bees with me. They are kind of like family albeit sometimes really crabby and painful family (Like that aunt who keeps asking when you are going to get a real job). I am sure you have gathered by this point that this is new territory for me. But I figured all I have to do is keep them in their hose for a day shove them on the truck and I am home free.
All my assumptions about moving a hive are false.
Assumption one: The bees will never get past this screen ---- FALSE
They evaded it like little Hudinis
Assumption two: Propolis is sticky enough. All I need is a cargo strap---FALSE
The hives separated like Moses was there waving his staff at them.
Assumption three: It will be quick and easy to get the bees in the hive at night---FASLE!
Apparently the warm snap was an invitation to an all hive porch party.
Assumption four: This will be easy---FASLE!
walking the Gobi with no shoes and one water bottle full of mud would have been easier.
So, what went wrong, you ask? What didn't might be a shorter story but here we go.
1: When sealing the hive, I will use a full length wooden entrance block duct taped or even screwed into place. I have even though of replacing the bottom board with one made with a PVC entrance and just capping it off. I have heard this might help with small hive beetles too but I have not researched it much.(More on that later)
2: Propolis is sticky...amazingly sticky but not sticky enough apparently. Next time I will use four angle iron pieces on all four vertical corners and at least one ratchet strap around them as well as one going around the top and bottom of the hive.
3: This is a timing thing. If I had more time I would have waited for a cooler night when the would go back in on their own. I did not think of smoking them and wonder if it would have worked. I might give that a shot next time.
4: It was hard, heavy work. I am actually surprised I had any bees left after I was done. I left bees at every gas station, restaurant and rest stop we paused at. I hated it that I lost all those bees. Every time I stopped I tried to stop up the hives but somehow they just kept getting out.
What I did right; I had screened bottom boards on for ventilation. I moved them in the late afternoon and night to minimize them moving around or flying. I might should have waited till later but sever hours is a long haul. I had my sites setup and ready for the bees when I got home so I did not have to relocate them when they got to their new home.
Take it from me, if you are moving your hives, make sure you have plenty of ventilation (but keep the vents out of direct wind when driving), Make the hive escape proof. Don't do this sloppily, you will loose bees. Ensure your hive is going to stay together. You might have to hit the brakes or hit a big pot hole. Again, don't stint. Finally, get help if you can. I am sure I could have asked some of the members of my bee club to help me but I hate to impose. Don't be like me. Your bees may be at stake.
So, I leave you with these lessons learned. I have one more hive to move and I will follow my own hard learned lessons. Hopefully I will be able to report success in the future.
Till next time...