Today was a pleasant day for January, sunny and in the upper 30's. There isn't any snow on the ground to speak of, and I have help to move hives because my college kids are home on Christmas break. So, we decided to just move the hives now to a new location...twenty three miles away. Yes, that is a little inconvenient, but the alternative is to just quit beekeeping. The owners of the property where my hives now sit are very excited about having beehives on their property. It is wooded and surrounded by wild swamp land. There are a few hobby beekeepers nearby, but it appears no commercial beekeepers are in the immediate area. I am hopeful to have a successful 2019 season for the first time in three years.
We scouted out the property yesterday and moved the empty blue hive. Today we loaded up the three remaining hives. That was a bit challenging because it is winter, so we can't move the hives in an open truck or trailer because it is too cold. The larger vertical hive was just a bit too tall to fit in the truck with its cap. We took out the rubber mat in the bottom of the truck bed, which gained us and inch, then took off the top cover and slid it in. Yes, a few bees said hello, but nothing major. We placed the inner cover and a towel over the top for the ride. Then we moved the small hive. I thought it was probably dead, but I tried to remove the inner cover to prevent bees escaping through the vent holes, and I saw that was impossible because the cluster was right at the top and half attached to the inner cover. I quickly closed them up, and we loaded them. The were a little disturbed, but calmed down quickly. The long hive was quiet, and since it has latches, we didn't need to do anything at all to it, but move it a little to load it. Because we barely disturbed it, no bees came out. I don't know for sure if that hive is alive, but I suspect it probably is.
We loaded all the cement blocks we use for stands and made the twenty three mile journey. We leveled the ground beneath each hive, placed the blocks and put each hive in its place. We had screened the entrances, but it really wasn't necessary because they were pretty tightly clustered. I removed the screens and left them for now.
I will try to feed the small hive, even though it is winter. It will die otherwise, so it can't hurt. I have a top feeder, which I will take over there within a few days. I will evaluate whether to feed the other two. My kids who lifted the hives thought they might have seemed a little light, although I am not so sure, since I had to hold the vertical hive up for a few minutes while we tried to maneuver it into the truck. Tomorrow is supposed to be a little warmer, so I will see how much activity they have then.
I have two nucleus hives on order for spring. If none of my hives survive, at least I have those. It is far too early in the winter to make any predictions at this point. We took a chance and moved the hives today because we have no idea what the weather will bring later on, and I won't have help until March. March is highly unpredictable in Michigan. It can be eighty degrees or zero, green grass or a foot of snow. I decided to just move them while the weather was mild and the ground was clear. It worked, it seems, so time will tell.