Hive Move

One of the neighbors complained about the location of our hive.

If she’d been nicer about it, I’d be less annoyed about it — that is to say, I recognize her concerns and would normally be more than willing to accommodate her,* but she chose the path of “I want those bees moved RIGHT AWAY!” and that approach tends to nurture my natural contrarian tendencies.

Nevertheless, we’re going to do it. Beekeeping regulations are pretty loose in North Carolina** — generally speaking, it’s legal to keep bees on one’s property. Also, on a practical note, since very few people complain (or even notice) hives, it’s not something that tends to be enforced even if someone were to violate some local ordinance. As far as Durham is concerned, beekeeping is legal both in the county and within city limits*** — although there is some debate over whether they are permitted in the front yard: some say they’re not allowed, others say there are no legal restrictions but that the city would prefer that people not keep hives in the front yard. (If it comes to it, we could put them on the other side of the fence.) In short, I don’t actually have to do a damn thing about the hive, but I’m going to because I’m trying to be a good neighbor: so STEP OFF, LADY.

However, I explained that I’d have to consult with My Fella to come up with a relocation plan, and that it would take several days minimumbecause moving a hive is a bit more complicated than simply picking it up and setting it down in a new location…but she wasn’t really in a listening frame of mind. So we’ll see how this goes.

Meanwhile, drawing unexpected inspiration from this, we came up with the following, rather elegant solution:

"on the wagon"

And here’s a side view, in which you can see our nephew’s yellow wagon as well as the very nifty rig that My Fella built to keep the hive stable. Our plan is that, by putting the hive on the wagon, we can inch them over a little bit at a time with minimal disruption — instead of picking them up, moving them, putting them down, repeat, repeat, repeat. (You can see the sugar feeder with which I am attempting to placate them.)

"bee relocation"

So far, no casualties. That’s the good news. The downside is that we’re staying up late juggling boxes full of pissed off bees in the dark.

Which is why I’ve compiled a short list of Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Bees:

1.) Multiple bees do not necessarily constitute a “swarm.” If the bees were swarming (which is a specific phenomenon, occurring under specific conditions), by god, you’d know it. Also, if the bees were swarming, they’d be incredibly docile. What you are witnessing when you look at a hive in mid-June in NC is an ordinary number of bees going about their normal business. And, unless you were to position yourself right in their flight path and start kicking the hive, they are going to ignore you. Why? Because you — weird, mostly bald biped that you are — are not of any use to them at all. Do you have ANY idea how much work they have to get done before winter? They so don’t have the time or energy to attack you. If you think they do, then you are either a self-absorbed idiot or you have been watching too many awful, entomologically unsound movies.

2.) You may not realize this, but it is entirely possible that you have never in your life been stung by a bee, even if you think you have. It is very possible — probable, even — that you’ve been attacked by yellowjackets or other wasps, because they are nasty little f*ckers who, I swear, enjoy injecting you with their venom. But bees are defensive stingers, because they only get one shot and they don’t want to waste it. Plus, they do not make themselves easy to find. Unless you spend a considerable part of your day stomping around in the woods and kicking trees, you are probably not going to find any.

3.) If you move their hive, the bees then have to reorient themselves and…ok, I’ll dispense with the scientific explanation. Do you have some sort of GPS?

Yeah, it’s basically like that.

*even though, as she has apparently failed to notice, they’ve been in situ since April.
**which is why the stats are something like 13,000 beekeepers maintaining approximately 100,000 hives statewide.
***see TC08-05 (amended and accepted  for the county on 1/12/2009 and the city 1/5/2009)…if you can find where’s it buried on the city’s website.
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One thought on “Hive Move

  1. According to and other sources you could move them in one go if you force them to reorient by putting a suitable obstacle in front of the entrance after a nocturnal move.

    The link also recommends sequestering them for one-to-three days at the new location. Most other sources suggest the obstacle alone would suffice. We have not tried either method ourselves.

    But maybe it is more satisfying to annoy the officious neighbor by inching the hive along.

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