A beehive knocked over by wind or a bear or storms is not fun. Here's how to prevent your beehives from being knocked over.
I recently got a call from my friend Bill, saying that one of our beehives was knocked over. Normally, a beekeeper would stress about this, I didn't, watch the video to see why.
When a beehive falls over, its usually a very bad thing. The supers are open, and the bees are very agitated, and if its cold or raining, the bees may die. Check out what happened to my friend Erik of Root Simple when his hive fell over.
Strapping your hives with ratchet straps, the good kind used by truckers, will reduce the chaos when a beehive is knocked over.
We first started strapping our beehives as part of our bear proof the bee yard project. If the hives are strapped, the hives stand a better chance of surviving a bear in the beeyard. One can say that a ratchet strap won't keep a bear from tearing open a beehive, but I've read where the strapping has helped save hives. Watch our bear proof a bee yard video here.
But an additional benefit of having to strap the hives because of the bears is the ability of the hive to withstand a fall.
Yes, removing a ratchet strap every time you want to do a hive inspection is a pain, but it may save your hive one day. Its important to buy good quality ratchet straps, and spray them with WD40 or similar lubricant every few months.
In winter, we double strap our hives - see this winterizing beehives post - one strap is around the hive, another straps the hive to the ground. We have found these spiral spikes that are sold for dog runs work well. Wooden stakes can get loose with frost heave.
Even our hives on city rooftops are strapped, one less thing to have to worry about.
Can't emphasize how important this info is for backyard beekeepers: we had this happen, but did NOT know to strap our hive. The entire thing was in pieces (2 deeps and 1 super). We thought the hive had died it looked so quiet. Instead, when we "flipped" the middle deep back in place, it turned out the entire hive had huddled in the middle and yes, they attacked us. Badly. Horribly. No one heard our cries for help! Multiple stings later, and after our adrenaline had come down, we had to go back to the hive and finish what we had started. In the end, the hive died out - we think that we had re-positioned the boxes in the wrong direction and it disoriented the bees enough that they couldn't figure out where their home was. The colony got very weak, and eventually wax moth got to the remainder. It was very sad. Had we known to strap the hive, it would have been easy work to reposition it back into place and potentially save the colony.