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Transporting hives

Evening viewers,

I am looking at purchasing two hives and then immediately transporting on a 12 tonne rigid truck (loaded with other freight) approximately 400 km.
I’ve had a good look through other posts outlining horror stories of bees D.O.A. so I would like to try and avoid this obviously.

There are two major issues I think I need to overcome

  1. Distance and quality of the road/ride in the truck. I’ll most likely strap the hives straight onto the deck of the truck - out of the wind but still ample air flow. The problem is the appalling quality of our national “highway” on which I’ll be traveling. The Bruce Highway north of Rocky is not renowned for it’s smooth ride especially considering…

  2. The hives are made up of a full depth brood and queen excluder , a full depth super ( both 9 frames in 10 frame boxes ) and two half depth supers. I haven’t examined the hives for a couple of weeks but I believe most honey frames will be capped but may be still some unripe.

My question is - Will all this honey be a problem when the hives are transported?

I’m a bit limited for materials and time as I am away from home. I’m thinking that maybe I could remove the honey frames from the supers and just pack (without bees) into seperate containers and reinstall the completely empty boxes above the brood to give the bees some room and air space or are they better off with something to hang onto (honey frames) . I’d like to replace with empty frames but don’t have any available at short notice.
I’m looking at moving overnight with the entrance either open or covered with guaze.

Any thoughts/suggestions on whether all this honey will be a problem would be greatly appreciated.

For what it is worth I would place a single piece of fly screen over the entrance held in place with duct tape, the need for good ventilation is a big issue at this time of year.
I would leave the frames of honey in the hives so that the bees will have something to spread out on and hang onto. You might have the odd frame come apart because of the weight and the bumps in our ‘National Highway’ but that is a far better option than having all the bees in an empty hive and being bounced into a cluster on the floor where they will overheat and die.
Ideally and given the time I would extract the frames to reduce the weight of the frames but that might not be an option for you.
I used to truck hives two deep on a truck in the heat of Summer for 300 K’s from the Mudgee area back to the Hawkesbury when the Cape Weed and Patterson’s Curse burnt off from the heat and extracted the frames after the trip and apart from the odd frame coming apart there was no major issues.

Thanks for the advice and support Peter. Ideally I’d like to replace the lid with a sheet of screen but just don’t have the materials to hand. I’ll leave everything ‘as is’ - the frames are pretty well glued in place anyway. I’m looking at closing the hives with screen late Sunday afternoon and driving through the evening to arrive home after midnight.
How critical is it that I don’t stop moving the truck once the trip is started?

If the bees are well locked into the hives you can stop as often and long as needed. Where that can be a problem is that any bees escape from the hive and you stop near ant lights like at a servo and bees outside the hive will fly to the lights. Have a safe trip and let me know how it goes.
A puff of smoke before closing them in will get any bees hanging about outside will send them in so you shouldn’t have any losses.

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Arrived home at 2 am - all passengers alive and well thanks Peter. I ended up using some ‘dog mesh’ screen as in a heavier duty grade of flyscreen held in place by duct tape. The bottom board on one of the hives had begun to rot (plywood) and collapsed slightly under the pressure of the tiedown strap and the weight of the hive. The bees had actually started chewing a section of the board to gain some fresh air as the entrance had effectively been seriously reduced. Luckily I noticed it when I got home and jambed it open when I removed the screen.

Just a few points for the benefit of future readers -

  1. I carried a squirt bottle to wet the bees during transit but actually was far more useful when we closed the hive after sunset. The smoke didn’t really drive them in but a quick spray with water sent them scurrying inside - I guess they thought it was raining?
  2. Lights - as in flashlights - seemed to upset the bees so best to avoid using if possible or at least avoid direct light.
  3. I stopped several times with no ill effects.I faced the entrances parallel to the side of the truck but away from the edge to give a bit of air flow.
  4. Total travel time - 5 hrs ambient temperature 25-27 degrees c . Humidity 70%
  5. Honey frames were about 50:50 capped and unripe but suffered no spillage at all.

Thanks again and hope this will benefit someone


I’ll let @Peter48 tell you about red light…

Congrats on the move.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to find out that bee don’t like a torch being shined into their direction after sunset, I still remember bees flying down the torch beam and mass stings on my hand holding the the torch.
However a piece of my bee keeping kit now is a torch that emits a red light and bees don’t see the red spectrum. One evening a week I do a walk around of my apiary looking and comparing the bearding of all the hives to so that in daylight I can do an inspection to rectify the hives with excessive bearding. I can shine a red light into the entrance and the bees are not disturbed at all.
Glad the trip went well for you and the bees

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I’m also pleased the trip went well for you.

As a general rule smoke drives bees into a hive. I’ve never actually found that smoke doesn’t drive bees into a hive after dark whenever I wanted them to go in.

I always try to encourage people to transport bees with the side of the box parallel to the road. By doing that there is less force on the frames during braking & accelarating.


Hi Guys,
I will too be transporting 10 of my hives from Sydney to my apiaries on the Sunshine Coast QLD next week inside my ford transit van. I was wondering whether putting fly screen over the entrance will allow enough ventilation or if I should make some fly screen to put over the top and remove the lids?
In terms of the placement of the boxes as mentioned above should the frames be length ways to the road?
Regards Coop

This is what I do in my enclosed vehicle


Hey Cooper - just to clarify what was said previously . I can see whey Jeff suggests aligning the hives with the sides parallel to the vehicle - it’s to reduce the frames swinging back and forward and I would generally agree. However in my situation I thought it better at right angles - the reason being it gave better air flow, in my opinion, as the hives were on the outside of an open flat bed truck. This gave them a ‘good breeze’ without them copping gale force winds/or nothing into the entrances. Also my frames were fairly well ‘welded’ in position with wax and the trip I did had very little ‘stop/start’ which would be quite different to yours I would imagine. In hindsight it was a pretty minor issue for me although it did also allow me to view the bees more easily and would be the opposite for you.

If you can securely fit fly screen in place of the roof so much the better for ventilation. I agree with Jeff about fitting the sides of the hives to the side of the van to help stabilize the frames from swinging about. I would do the trip with the air-con turned on for your comfort and for the bees too. When you arrive up here give the bees an hour to settle down before you unload them.
If you need a hand to unload them when you arrive I’m free 7 days a week and can juggle thing about with a little notice so happy to help if you PM me.

Thanks so much Peter when we get up here and let the girls settle for an hour and then unload them should we open the hives straight away?

Let them settle in the new location the hive are be going to be kept in, give them an hour to calm down then open the hive entrance and step back. Don’t do anything in regards to checking the hives for at least 2 days so by then they are well orientated and calmed down after the trip up. If you can leave them alone for a week all the better.
Happy to give you a hand to set the hives up and you will find bee keeping different up here to Sydney. I’m ok 7 days a week with a little notice, a day or two is ok. Also happy if you want to visit my apiary, or your, to compare notes and ideas. I had to rethink my bee keeping with the change of climate. I was at Richmond and 5 to 7 degrees colder in Winter and 5C hotter in Summer to Sydney. Up here the bees will forage all year. And with the recent rain the drought is fading from my memory, back to normal Sunshine Coast Summer, humid and plenty of rain finally.

ok thank you so much!!!
What have you found that has been different up here if you don’t mind me asking and yes we would love to come and see your apiary!!

Also do you know any of the requirements of selling honey at markets up here?

Doing preemptive spits in July instead of October, The bees are active all of the year. Single brood hives(fantastic) Winter lasts about 6 weeks when you are comfortable with a bee suit on, November to March it is very easy to dehydrate. I take a 4 hour break during the humid weather which is worrse than the heat.

I certainly won’t advise that. It will spread disease.

Maybe your climate might cause a disease doing a July split with cold nights, but I have been doing them here with up to 35 hives and not had an issue. If I left them till October they could well have swarmed by then. I often do a second split in November with really strong hives. But of course that is where I live now on the Queensland coast. When I was at Richmond west of Sydney October was when I did splits there when Spring arrived.

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Ah… that’s a different story altogether.


But I’m strongly against spitting, not only in July, but any month.

(hey Peter, I’m having a bit of fun at your typo, sorry)

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