I went for a visit to the beeyard yesterday at sunset. It’s probably the most unromantic place you could think of, what with all the buzzing and stinging and such. The sunset was nice but not memorable. The bees, however, were cranky (in a memorable sort of way). Go figure – I’m there to separate them from the product of their summer labours, and they’re not happy about it.
I opened the first hive to find a layer of bees under the top cover, sitting poised with their stingers in the air – straight up – and already angry at the intrusion. AND – my smoker wasn’t working very well. AND – since I had my children in the van, I didn’t want to walk back to the van, open it up, and gather more fire and fuel for the smoker. I couldn’t risk bees entering the van and making the evening more memorable than it already was. So I struggled along with my smokeless smoker, making the bees more and more angry as I took off the honey supers to put the bee escape between the honey and the rest of the hive.
The bee escapes can be seen in the photo above. The holes in the middle with screen covering them are for ventilation, and the white bits are exits. The bees can get out of the honey supers but they can’t get back in. Here’s a photo of one of the exits taken apart:
The bees crawl down through the hole, then past the metal strips to get out. They can’t get back in again due to the angle of the metal strips and the size of the opening. It works well; that’s what I used for my first honey harvest – the bee escape for that one was borrowed from Ken, my beekeeping mentor. The two in the photo above were made by me, and not nearly as nicely made as Ken’s. I had fun using the router though.
The next step is to wait a few days until the bees have cleared out. After that I will go back and take the honey supers off of the hives. From there, the honey is collected and filtered and jarred and sold!