Bee Escape, the easy way to harvest honey

27 May
Bee escape board

Adding the clearer board with 2 Porter-style bee escapes.

Brushing bees off honey frames I’m about to pilfer isn’t fun for anyone. The bees get testy, I get buzzed, and by the time I’ve cleared bees off all the frames in a box, everyone’s beyond foul in mood. Waiter, make that a double!

That’s why I simply adore the bee escape, aka “clearer board”. What is a bee escape, you ask? It’s essentially a one-way valve that allows bees to leave but doesn’t let ’em back in. Perfect for clearing a box of honey with minimal stress to me and the bees.

[Here’s a diagram of the original Porter bee escape.]

So how do you use it? Oh do allow me, darlings.

How to use a Bee Escape or Clearer Board

  1. Buy a few bee escapes (either Porter style or triangle style). Insert the bee escapes in the hole in an inner cover or just buy one already constructed.
  2. The day before you want to harvest honey, put the bee escape board beneath the box of honey to harvest. (Between the box to harvest and the box(es) to leave.)
  3. Leave overnight. In places like Albuquerque with cool evening temps, the bees will descend into the brood boxes to keep brood warm.
  4. The next morning, none of the bees will be able to pass up into the honey super thanks to the ingenious bee escape.
  5. It’s honey day! Come back to your hive and pull off the honey super. Be sure to smoke the box in case there are a few remaining bees.
  6. Remove the honey super, remove the bee escape and close up your hive.

Notes:

  • In humid climes where evening temps don’t drop, you may have a larger number of remaining bees. Be sure to smoke or brush off the bees. Or, try using the Triangle escape. If that doesn’t work, go hard-core with the Vortex Escape.
  • If you’re using the old-skool Porter escape (which works just fine in Albuquerque), consider adding 2-3 escapes per board. This clears the box more quickly.
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11 Responses to “Bee Escape, the easy way to harvest honey”

  1. cokevody December 6, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    Ваша страничка супер! Как и сама новость. Пишите в том же духе! Лично я буду ваш постоянный посетитель.

  2. Moshe July 19, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    Is it possible to leave the bee escape for longer time. 2 days for example in order to have no bee left in the super ?

    • mistress beek July 19, 2011 at 7:35 am #

      Hi Moshe, yes, you could leave the bee escape on for an extra day. The only risk of leaving it on too long is that ants or wax moths could get inside. Also, once the queen happened to be in the top box so she got locked up there with only a handful of attendants. I wouldn’t have wanted her to spend two days up there when the nights are cold.

      • Moshe July 19, 2011 at 11:01 am #

        I live in Israel. ! The nights are not really cool
        the temp goes down to 24 Celsius,
        Would this technique work in such conditions ?.

      • mistress beek July 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

        Hmmm, good question, Moshe. You might try a Vortex bee escape given those temperatures: http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/vortexescape.html

  3. TREVOR ELLIOTTE March 6, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    could i use multiple escape boards on the same hive to empty ( say 3 supers) of honey
    TREV NEW ZEALAND

    • mistress beek March 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

      Hi Trev, it’s a good question. What I’d recommend is putting the escape board beneath the bottom super full of honey. So, imagine this:

      Honey super
      Honey super
      Honey super
      Escape board
      Extra super
      Brood nest box
      Brood next box

      I think it’s important not to be too aggressive though and be sure to leave the bees room to grow. You might consider doing a staged version where the escape board clears one box at a time, that way you’ll be sure not to trap your queen up in one of the supers.

      Hope this helps.

      • TREV NZ March 6, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

        hi, thanks for your prompt reply, ok i will stick with what you suggest and see what happens, just new to this game and tried just brushing the bees off the frames but i think i ended up with more bees out of the hive than in it, but all settled down eventually i have taken about 45 kilos, ( not sure of that in pounds) but it has been a very good season here in NEW ZEALAND
        thanks for you reply to my question , i have ordered a couple of escape boards so should be ok from now on .
        cheers
        TREV.

  4. David January 12, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    Hi Chantal
    Easier to build than the Vortex escape is one consisting of two well spaced holes (e.g. opposite corners of the escape board) above a standard rhombus clearer cut down the middle. This type of board needs an eke below it … this allows the bees space to escape to. I found details of this on the UK beekeeping forums, built some a few years ago and have used them ever since (I’ve described them here – http://theapiarist.org/clearer-boards/). I abandoned Porter-style escapes as they get blocked with drones or propolis. Like the Vortex escape, the ones I now use have no moving parts. It never gets too hot here (UK) but I’ve never had them fail.
    Best Wishes
    David

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Honey Flow and Extraction « Frustrated Farmgirl - July 27, 2010

    […] a fume board and a stinky chemical to drive the bees down lower into the hive. Some people use a bee escape which allows the bees to fly lower in the hive, but it doesn’t let the bees back up. When you […]

  2. Top bar hive vs. Langstroth (I’ve tried both and here’s my verdict) « mistress beek - September 19, 2010

    […] by hand from a TBH, there’s nothing like the ease of harvesting honey from a Lang using a clearing board and […]

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