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Moving to a new hive


Hi all

Before I start I should note this will be the first time I’ll be doing anything with bees. But here goes.

About a year ago a swarm landed in our backyard and promptly moved into two large terracotta pots. One upside down on top of the other.

They’ve been there for a while now and it’s time for them to make the big move to the other side of the shed away from the washing line and into a home where we can access the honey. We managed to pick up two large 10 frame supers secondhand but unused.

So now the hard part. Here’s the plan at the moment feel free to let me know anywhere I’ve gone wrong. Without being able to see the inside I would assume there is comb joining the two pots top to bottom so going to have to rip the top pot off, flip it over and hope everything doesn’t just collapse. Than having removed the wax and plastic foundation that came in our hive place the straightest pieces of comb into the boxs trying to line them up with the empty frames for the bees to connect to. One question is how to stop these pieces of comb from all falling over?? I’ve heard of using elastic bands or small peices of wood between the comb what’s the preference for this kind of situation?

Given the size of their current home I imagine I’ll probably fill both of my new supers with comb than gathering as many bees as possible into the new boxs and hope I’ve got the queen. Leave the new hive next to the old one for a few days so any leftovers have a chance to find their new home before moving the hive to the other side of the shed.

Is there anything I’ve missed or doing wrong? I have a suit and smoker ready to go. I’m sure they’ll come in handy when I litterally rip the hive in half.


Close up


Could be a little messy but you have it in a nutshell, just as long as you get the brood the bees will follow and be as gentle as you can to hopefully get the Queen too. Elastic bands are ideal as the bees will eat through them in a week or two. When moving to the new location, just a couple of feet at a time. Best of luck.


I have one tip, if the bees are inclined to get a bit cranky, move the operation a fair way from the original site. You’ll find it much easier working with a lot of the flying bees going back to the old site. If you have to do that, a good idea would be to put something belonging to the hive there to hopefully hold them there.
When the operation is finished, put the new box a couple of feet away from the old site, towards where you want the hive to eventually go.
I had to deploy that strategy this morning on a not so happy hive I was working on & it made the difference between me finishing the job I started & leaving a 3 way split for me to deal with another day.


@Fremantle G’day, If it is an effectively empty cavity between the 2 pots 9/10 the combs will run diagonal like a Warre type hive or all squiggly and pretty. It will probably be hanging from the roof of the top box and hanging down into the lower box because they have no structured frames.

How are they getting in?

If you prise the 2 pots apart try to only loosen the pot edges it will be messy but you should have some nice long combs that can be cut to size and placed into the frames.

Make sure you keep the brood area together. It will be Oval 3D shape in the centre of the hive like a Rugby ball so you can either cut it in 1/2 - you will loose a little brood and place it that way in the new hive or you can take a long bread knife, cut your losses so to speak and completely dissect the pot all the way through but you need to place it pretty much that orientation into the new frames over the 2 boxes like double brood configuration.

Pictures or video of the process would be a bonus as well :smiley:

Good luck


Make sure you keep the original orientation of the comb as well. They are sloped slightly upwards. So if you put them in upside down or sideways they will slope the wrong way and the bees may abandon those frames.


Hi Adam, I’ve been pondering that very subject myself, wondering if the brood necessarily has to sit the same way. In this video, It was more convenient for me to put a slab of brood in a frame sideways & it made no difference to the bees. They still cared for it & stayed with it. When you think of it, as you know, the bees use the same comb for honey, pollen & brood. The only reason the bees need the slope in the comb is so the honey doesn’t run out.
You’ll see that sideways slab of brood several days later at the end of the video.
With our Australian native bees, they use separate comb for honey/pollen to brood. The honey pots sit horizontal, as does the brood, however if we take a wild hive & put it in a box, we can put the brood in either vertical or horizontal. I might as well show you my native hive as well, cheers

Our native bees…


I am just passing along advice given to me by an old timer at my local club. As with all things bee keeping, your mileage may vary.


No worries Adam, I always wondered about that, so now I’ve seen for myself that putting it sideways doesn’t make any difference. I guess when you think about it, it shouldn’t make any difference. You can tell that old timer that an Aussie old timer proved you can place the brood sideways. Adam, you’ve inspired me, I’m going to see what happens if I place a piece of brood upside down.


Have you tried upside down? His advice was mostly directed at the idea that bees don’t like upside down cells and as such could be used to help requeen a hive. The main reason for the advice was that he was talking to me about techniques to requeen a hive without physically finding the queen. Basically that if you take your original box flip it upside down, put a queen excluder on so that the old queen has to stay with the old upside down box, then put a new box with a new queen above the excluder. He says the bees will abandon the old upside down frames and the old queen and take to the new queen since she has better surroundings.

Perhaps there are other factors at work here and the causation is not due to the upside down frames?


I rescued a colony from a decrepit abandoned box where the bees had made wild comb attached to the roof. I turned the box upside down and put a new one on top. They went up quite quickly.
They will do the same if you do a Bailey comb change, where there is no upside down comb involved, I think it’s more to do with going up where it’s warmer. For instance, you can get bees to draw super comb in a nadired super but they do it more quickly in a super on top.


Hi Adam, no I’ve never tried it. I got to thinking last night about the upside down brood & wondered if a grub would work it’s way out of the cell as it’s feeding. That’s the only drawback I can see. Bearing in mind that a queen hangs completely vertical. I have a bit of worker burr comb, I’ll fit that upside down into a frame & see what happens.
I would have normally advised maintaining the same orientation. When we made the video I wondered how I’d go placing the comb sideways. That was the first time I ever tried it. It was so much easier to fit it in sideways, I chose that easier way. Plus it was during winter & I wanted to get the brood in the box quickly.


I would be very interested to know the results of your upside down experiment when you finish. Maybe sideways is close enough but upside down will be too much to overcome? It seems like if nectar will drip out, which I have been told is the case, then perhaps the eggs/larvae will fall out.


Thanks Adam, I’ll let you know in about a week:) I’ll go & do it now before breakfast. cheers


@Dee Yes I was thinking Bailey as well


Hey Fremantle.

I’m down in Mt Barker and have 3 hives (Brood boxes only) and am eagerly awaiting my flow hives so I can put them into my supers. I’ll have 3 complete set-ups.
I work with a local beekeeper who set mine up and have since wanted to move them 100m from where they are now.
He tells me I can only move them 1 metre per day. Its best to move them at least 3km away for at least 4 days then return them to where you want them.


G’day Adam, we did a little video on that this afternoon. The brood I turned over had eggs & very young larvae. Anyway the bees took the larvae up to the point of … anyway here’s my video. cheers … PS the song bird in the background is our native Magpie. Apparently the Magpie has the most complex song out of all the worlds song birds.


That is very interesting, thanks for making the video. So at least we know that the brood won’t fall out if the cells are upside down. I wonder if they will have any preference in reusing them for another round of brood if they are upside down before an egg is laid in it, Would you mind leaving that frame in to see if the queen shows any preference toward those cells?


Hi & your welcome Adam, yes I’ll certainly do that. I’ll talk to you later, bye


Hi Adam, the day Bob picked up his bees, I placed that frame between 2 frames of brood in the bottom box. I had a look yesterday & the queen was actually on that frame, she was laying in the cells that were previously empty, all the empty upside down cells had a new egg in them. That was interesting, I’ll talk to you later, bye