Several days ago I discussed the use of Escape Boards for clearing bees from honey supers. At the time there were several unedited video files on the computer that I just didn’t have time to fool with. Things haven’t slowed down any, but yesterday morning a concerted effort was made to sit down and learn some new video editing software.
Now I know that minimalist beekeepers can take the opportunity to point out that this would be yet another piece of equipment required by Langstroth type hive users. They would be right. There is no rebuttal. However if you are going to use Langstroth equipment these things do work. They cost somewhere around $15 and if you are a woodworker you can probably make them easily enough. I don’t believe that one is needed for every single hive. My goal is to have one board for every two honey producing hives. That is not practical for people taking care of thousands of hives, but if you only keep one or two hives it definitely is.
Key things to remember with Escape Boards:
- Place them on the hives 24-48 hours before supers are to be pulled.
- Remove all burr comb from the top bars of the box you will be placing the escape on. Burr comb will get caught in the screen on the bottom of the escape and could block the exits for the bees.
- Always orient them with the large hole UP, and the TRIANGLE DOWN.
- The places that sell these boards advise that you only clear two supers per board. Therefore if you have a hive with 4 supers on top you may require 2 escape boards. I have cleared more than two with a single board, but there were more bees present after 24 hours. Experiment and get back with me.
- You must make sure that there are no holes in your woodenware above the escape board. If there are places that the bees can get in above the board the escape can NOT work.
- When removing your supers (after the boards have been present for 24-48 hrs) leave the escape on the hive until you have the supers away from the hive and/or covered. The attached video did not show a lot of bees on the underside of the escape, but there are times when hundreds of them will stack up there.
- When placing the escapes on the hive look through the honey supers thoroughly. If brood is present DO NOT place an escape under them. While extracting honey this year an old friend and new beekeeper brought 4 supers for me to extract. When separating frames, a MARKED QUEEN came crawling out on top of one.
I prefer physical methods for clearing supers over chemical ones. Fume boards are not an option. Removing the combs one by one and manually removing the bees is a cheaper alternative, but with 10 production hives this year that was not going to be practical. If you are having trouble justifying the expense remember, you are going to be using this thing for 24 – 48 hours once or twice per year. As long as it is painted and you are careful with it an escape board will last you many many years.
Openshot is the name of the software I am attempting to learn. It is a free piece of software that is available for Linux. I have hours of beekeeping footage and this editor makes things easier. There are several bugs I have already discovered, but I haven’t found anything that cannot tolerated.
Questions? Leave a comment….