Bee Escape Board

We did a honey harvest last week. One of the challenges with that is getting all of the bees safely out of the honey supers so you aren't carrying a few thousand angiry bees back when you go to extract the honey from the frames.  We've tried a few things to get bees out of honey supers to varying degrees of success. Neil found something called Bee Escape boards or Bee Mazes as we call them and they work like a charm.  We ordered one and then Neil's groundskeeper Hans built one for each hive.

Essentially it's designed so bees can crawl out but find it undesirable to crawl back in. Above is my friend Brie who had visiting a bee hive on her bucket list, so I incorporated her enthusiasm into our honey harvest plans. She's holding the Escape Board so you can see all the bees that have exited from the honey super.

The board should go between the smaller boxes called honey supers where bees store excess honey (the stuff you harvest) and the larger brood boxes where they raise young and have honey stores for winter. You set the Escape Board so that they bees will leave the supers and crawl down into the brood box.

One of our hives had some feral comb between the brood boxes and honey supers and the excess wax blocked the exit holes in the maze. The workers didn't vacate the the honey supers, they got blocked in!

Then Neil had the brilliant idea of setting the honey supers chock full of thousands of bees on a table near the hive and placing the Escape Board on top of them, as if it were a ceiling. Sure enough, the girls began to exit immediately through the top and fly back to their hive.  It was so hypnotic, I had to get a video so you could see how quickly they were getting the heck outta Dodge: