Monday, August 15, 2011
I have found Micheal Bush's website to be a very helpful and informative resource for chemical-free beekeeping. This year I tried a new harvest technique I learned here and it worked really well. This is from his section on Bee Escapes:
"But I have liked the triangular ones from Brushy Mt. Usually the supers are removed, the escape is put on (it's one way so be sure its the right way, letting the bees out, but not in) and you wait a day or two for the bees to leave. Again, they will not leave if there is brood in the supers. I prefer to put one of these on a bottom board (with the escape down) and stack supers up about as high as I can reach them and then put one on top (with the escape up) and come back in 24 to 48 hours. The biggest disadvantage is you have to handle every box three times if you put it on the hive (once to get them off, then put on the escape, then stack them back on the hive, then load them up) and twice if you put it on its own bottom board (once to stack them on the bottom board and once to load them up)."
I didn't have enough bee escapes to have one on the top of each stack so I did it a bit differently: I started with a hive stand and a bottom board. I placed the triangular bee escape board on top of the bottom board and stacked the supers on top of that. After stacking all of the supers, I covered the stack with an outer cover. In the 2 day interim between stacking and harvest, all of the bees left the supers and went back to their hives. I loved this method, because the hives (with 50K or so potentially mad bees) aren't opened during harvest. Moving the supers to the setup (right next to the hive) 48 hours prior to harvest was really easy...even considering that I took the time to sort through the super frames (placing only capped frames in the stack) and also shaking off the bees along the way. This preparation step made it really easy to get the (beeless) supers inside on the morning of the long day of extracting. It couldn't have gone smoother.
For me, this is a great solution. And, as you can see in the photo, there were practically no bees left in the supers (I think we found three!).