Adventures in Moving… with Bees!
by Grace Chapman, Director of Horticulture, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Note: We recently welcomed Grace Chapman, our new director of horticulture, to the Garden. This blog post is about her transition to Richmond, it originally appeared on Grace Chapman’s personal blog, Sewn and Grown.
After a great six years in the Philly area, life has taken me south of the Mason-Dixon line again! A few weeks ago, I started as Director of Horticulture at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA. Leaving Philly is bitter-sweet. I made wonderful friends and was surrounded by a horticultural mecca of outstanding public gardens. With my love of traveling and exploring new places, I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life and make Richmond my home.
My wonderful parents, Alice and Jim, flew up from Florida to help me move. I have to say, I’m not a lady who travels light. Our 17-foot moving van was filled with a two-bedroom apartment’s worth of furniture, hundreds of books, supplies for all of my various hobbies (quilting, soap making, gardening, etc.), about 40 house plants, two cats, and… two beehives.
Yes, I know it is not normal to take beehives with you when you are moving to a new state, but I couldn’t leave my girls behind! To move the bees, I purchased screen bottom boards and screen inner covers. The night before the move, my dad helped me install the screen tops and cover the entrance after the bees had all gone in the hive for the night. We then secured the hives with straps to keep all of the boxes together. The next morning, we used a hand-truck to wheel the hives into the back of the moving van. During travel, the outer cover was left off of the hives, with the screen inner covers keeping the bees inside of the hive.
Air circulation is the most important factor in moving bees. Normally, many of the bees are our foraging during the heat of the day, so having everyone “at home” greatly raises the temperature in the hive. The bees are at risk of not having enough moisture to cool the hive and becoming overheated. Every two hours, we pulled over and opened the truck to let fresh air in. We also sprayed water into the top of the hives, through the screen tops. Once we arrived in Richmond, we unloaded the hives to their new location, which was along the bank of a lake on the property of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden next to another beekeeper’s hives.
The hives seem active and happy. I have been feeding heavy sugar syrup with a top feeder to get them ready for winter. Hopefully the girls will like their new home in Virginia and make lots of honey next season!