Safely transporting bee hives in a car trunk


Every now and again, you may find yourself needing to transport a hive or nuc of bees from one site to another.  This is a common task for semi serious beekeepers to do fairly often.  For example, if you are creating new hives from one of your strong boxes, it is a good idea to move the new boxes to a different location, preferably more than two miles away.

Obviously, you aren’t going to carry them by hand, you will be relocating them by your vehicle.  The best option for transporting a box of “not so happy” bees is with a truck.  This will keep you and them completely compartmentalized, also known as “keeping those pesky little bugs from stinging you while you are driving down the road at 60 miles an hour.”  If you are lucky enough to have a truck with an open bed, it is as simple as sealing them up and driving them to the new location.  Make sure you follow the three golden rules listed below.

If you find yourself without the use of a truck, you will probably be forced to settle with your car trunk.  Don’t worry, they will be fine with the heat, they actually like it pretty warm.  I wouldn’t keep them in the trunk any longer than you actually need to but they will certainly be fine.

There is one caution that I would give you if you do transport them in your car, please, please, please, make sure that you seal your boxes as well as you possibly can.  I was in a hurry one time when taking two new nucs from one bee yard to my house.  Let me share a very good mathematical formula that is very important for you to know when keeping bees:

you in a hurry + angry bees = not good

When I drove into my driveway at home, I heard a rather loud humming coming from my trunk.  Let me tell you, it gave me the worst sinking feeling.  Yes, there were thousands of bees crawling around trying to find a way out of my car.  I was fortunate enough to not have them find their way into the car with me, but it certainly could have happened.

Here are three rules to follow:

1. Use entrance reducers - this will help in keeping the areas of egress to a minimum
2. Plug all holes - some hives have ventilation holes, you don’t want them used as exits
3. Don’t scrimp on duck tape - use as much tape as you possibly can over every exit, hole and seam of the hive

I had forgotten rule #3 and had not taped the box very well.  The lid had popped open a little when I went over a bump in the road and the tape didn’t hold well enough.  Follow these simple guidelines and you shouldn’t end up like I did with my little friends out of their box.  

Happy Transporting!