Moving bees in winter

Just thinking ahead, does anyone have advice on moving bees in winter. I live in a climate that gets snow and below freezing temps. My three hives are too close to the front of my house and I need to move them to a spot about 300-400 feet away. If the bees are hibernating, will they re-orientate themselves if I move the boxes in the dead of winter? Or should I plan on moving all three of them to a site several miles away in spring (when they are more active), then move them back?

I had considered moving them this past fall, but we are now facing nights in the 40’s (f), and for a couple of reasons, I have no time to do this right now.


They don’t hibernate, they cluster. They will fly out to poop on nice days even if it is quite cool, mine take short jaunts if it is brilliantly sunny even if barely above freezing.

If you move the hives during a time when they aren’t going to be flying for several days (cold and rainy) you’ll probably have the best luck.

Bear in mind that full hives ready to overwinter are heavy. You’ll need to strap the boxes together and get help to lift them only a cart or hand truck. You don’t want to expose them to the cold and you also don’t want to agitate them to leave the hive when the weather is inhospitable.

You could screen off the entrance for the move, keep it blocked for a couple days then open it up and do the “sticks in front of the entrance” trick like @Eva mentioned in a previous thread you had discuss moving splits.

They will re-orient but will probably still only be making quick trips to defecate until things warm up.

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I move bees to a shelter that offers protection from harsh winds and snow. Don’t forget that the beehive should be insulated to help keep the bees warm. This can be done by wrapping the hive in insulation material or using a specially designed hive with built-in insulation. I also usually stock up on generators for the winter e.g. It’s very reliable, I trust that it doesn’t switch off and my bees don’t suffocate. Remember about ventilation!