Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Separating the bees from the honey - take 2

After our failure using sweet almond oil to separate the bees from the honey, this time we went back to using a tried and true method: a bee escape board. We wrote about using one here, but this time we tried one of a different design. Also made by the convenor of our Natural Beekeeping group, it had 4 cone shaped exits made out of flywire:

The super to be harvested was placed on the base and the lid with the cone exits was placed on top.

It took a few minutes for the first bees to exit via the cones.

It wasn't long before we observed a steady stream of bees exiting the box. In the picture below you can see bees leaving from all 4 exits:

We left the box for 4 hours which was probably overkill.  I spent some time watching the exodus and it was interesting to see that no bees attempted to enter the box - it was one way traffic only. When we went back to collect the box there was only 1 bee in the box that we could see. She kindly crawled onto my glove and I was able to place her by the hive entrance. 

As mentioned previously, because the primary beekeeper in the PragSust partnership is sensitive to bee stings we followed a similar procedure to last time. Just in case there were any bees still in the box we placed the super inside a plastic tub with a secure lid like the one below and placed it in the shed in the dark.


We leave it like this for a day or two before taking the whole lot, as is, inside the house for processing.  This leaves any bees remaining in the box in a slow and drowsy state and makes it much easier to catch them and release them outside.

So how did this bee escape lid design compare to the other one we'd tried? 

Based on our experience this design is definitely the winner. There were no bees in the box when we took it out of the tub.  You can't ask for better than that!  This is a really stress-free and easy way to separate the bees from the honey.



  1. Thanks so much for your continuing thoughtful information.

    This entry was especially useful. I was cruising the internet, looking for info about different methods of encouraging bees to leave a honey super prior to harvesting that would be low-stress for the bees.

    I appreciate your experiment with the sweet almond oil and this bee escape strategy.

    Very, very helpful.

    Good continuing luck with your hives.