Bee Escape

In trying to decide how to go about removing the bees from the frames when we go to harvest the honey, we looked at options such as the fume board, brushing, blowing or shaking bees off the frames, or using a bee escape.  We've chosen to try the last option.  The fume boards work quickly, but we didn't like the thought of "fumigating" our bees or the honey.  My experience with brushing bees off the frames has been that it does not make them very happy.  I like to keep them happy.  So we decided to go with the bee escape method.
There are a number of bee escapes available commercially and there are also plans for building a variety of bee escapes.  Most of the commercial bee equipment outlets sell a simple bee escape that is oblong in shape and fits in the opening of a standard inner cover.  It allows the bees to move from the honey super to the hive body below.  These are quite inexpensive, costing only a couple dollars. You can also buy, from Dadant, a board which incorporates several conical bee escapes for about $17.00.  We opted to build our own, using a plan for a variation of a triangular escape known as a vortex.  Dave Cushman has a great website explaining a variety of "clearer boards", including plans for building the vortex.  We made ours from 1/2 inch plywood.  We did add the variation that includes using 3 CD roms.  The CD's, being slick, help prevent bees from clustering underneath the bee escape and blocking the exits.  Here is a photo of one using the CD's:
This shows the underside of the bee escape.  The bees come down from the honey super above through the central hole, then have to wind through a bit of a maze to exit through an opening under any of the corners of the triangle.  A screen covers the escape so they have to go through the maze to exit.
I did a bit of searching for a video showing a bee escape.  Andy's backyard is a series of 5 homemade videos showing how he harvests his honey.  He removes the bees by using a triangular bee escape, which he shows.  He places the bee escape below the two honey supers and returns the next day to collect the supers, sans bees.  Seems to work pretty well.  Since our hives are just out back on our property, it is not a big deal to put them in place one day and go out the next to collect the frames.  Hopefully it will go as smoothly as it appeared for Andy.

Comments

  1. I heard in class that fumigating them actually leaves a chemical taste in the honey. Wonder if that is the case all the time or some of the time. When the time comes we will either try the bee escape or the blower. I purchased the brush but I keep hearing that makes them angry and I don't want to go down that road :( Please keep us posted on how the bee escape works out :)

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  2. My mother started beekeeping in '49. I was 7 years old. Confronted with a swarm clustered around a fence post on the ground, she spread a sheet, placed a super on the sheet, and followed the "ABC & XYZ of Beekeeping" instructions to gently brush the bees toward the entrance. There followed Mom's Indian War Dance: a whoop, a jump, and a slap... Long remembered in our family!

    Mac Harper, Glastonbury, CT

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