Friday, September 14, 2012

A Beekeeper's Best Helper - a Bee Escape Board

The next best thing to have in the bee yard, besides a beekeeper friend to help, is a Bee Escape Board.

This simple board is designed with a small triangular maze on one side and a simple round hole on the other.

The clever idea of this contraption is that you slip it underneath a full honey super that you would like to remove.

How do you place it on the hive?  The round hole goes facing up under the super.  When the bees exit the hive they leave the box by going through the round hole.  As they come down there are three straight paths of the maze underneath that they exit through.

Later when the bee wants to return to the super and she tries to go up she won't be able to figure out how to get into the super.

Your job is to be sure to return the next day (24 hours later) to remove the super.

During that 24 hours most of the bees in the super will exit the box.  They especially will go down into the hive if the nights are cool because they'll want to cluster.

I do find if the nights are warmer that not as many bees will exit the super but using the escape board is still worth it to reduce the number of bees that will need to be swept off the frames.

Later when the bees want to travel back up into the supers they're faced with the maze which is too complex for them to figure out.

If you wait longer than 24 hours to return though the bees will have discovered where the entrances are to the maze and will travel back up into the supers.  So timing is important.

My success with this has been great.  Even on hives where most of the bees didn't exit (a warm night for example) there are still many less bees to sweep off the frames than there would be otherwise.

So be sure to add bee escapes to your list of bee equipment to get.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Stinky Bee Yard? Blame the Goldenrod

You can certainly tell when fall is in the air.  The goldenrod flowers are in bloom and boy does the bee yard ever stink.

It's true that flowers give honey its flavour so don't be put off by the smell of goldenrod in the yard as the bees process it.  The final product doesn't taste anything like the smell.

What does goldenrod smell like?  If you put your nose to a flower it has a faint but pleasant fragrance.  But when the nectar is being processed by the bees there's a very distinct and unpleasant smell that comes out of the hives.

It smells like stinky feet.  Image a hot day with lots of walking and you're wearing your shoes with no socks.  Then you pop off your shoes and within a few moments you've cleared out the room.  Everyone complains.

That's what golden rod smells like.

So don't panic and think you've got American Foul Brood (AFB) if it's fall and you get a whiff of something stinky.

Goldenrod is a plant native to North America and it grows abundantly in meadows and alongside roads and highways.  If you're lucky sometimes you'll get what I call a bird poop gift--a bird has eaten a flower seed and pooped it out in your garden where it catches and grows.  I have a goldenrod plants now in both my front and back yard.

I have to say that goldenrod honey is my favourite flavour of all the honeys flowers and bees produce.