Can I move mason bee hives after they finish nesting?

magala(8)May 21, 2009

I have three hives that are rapidly filling up--75% full now, in the third week of May. Yay for bees!

Right now the hives are all hung on a full-sun south-facing wall. While this is more sunlight and heat than is usually recommended, it's working very well for our cold springs here in Seattle. This year's bees are much more active than they were last year when they were in the shade.

Once the bees have finished laying eggs and the hives have gone dormant, can I move them to a shadier location? The full sun is great now, but the hives will probably overheat if I leave them in full sun through September.

Is it OK to move them, as long as I handle them gently and keep them in the same orientation they were laid in?

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Yes you can, and you should, if you can move them to a protected location. The longer they stay out, the more birds and bugs can get to them. In particular parasitic wasps. Move them to an unheated garden shed or garage location. Avoid locations that overheat in the summer sun.
The important thing is to move them slowly, gently, and without bumping them. If the larvae get jarred loose from their food supply, they are unable to reattach and will starve. So I've read anyway, so I play it safe and handle them with care. Once Fall rolls around, you can handle them with wild abandon. The are fully cocooned and dormant by then.
I try to have my bees into the garden shed by the first of June. That's good enough to avoid most of the parasitic wasps. In fact, the sooner the better.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 4:10PM
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Hee hee. I just went out side to move them (June 11th) and apparently one females was still at work. I gently pulled out a nest block and she came out to the edge of her tube and looked at me, probably wondering what the heck was going on.

Still, I noticed two wasps nearby, so I'm taking it inside. Better safe than sorry.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 4:55PM
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