What experience have you had with the use of bee blowers to vacate bees from supers? Positive or negative, and why. What hints, techniques, and suggestions apply? What works better?
I clear my supers with a common yard blower. Until last year I had a little Ryobi, now I have about the same thing made by Poulan.
I stand the supers on end on a box--anything to get them a foot or so off the ground--then blow them from the top side of the super. I do not aim the blast at the ground, but straight out thru the super, blowing the bees out into the air. Most of the bees will be removed in the first few seconds. Then I go to the bottom side and blow the bees gathered in the corners and in the spaces between the end bars and the box; this takes seconds. Back to the top side and that is generally it. The bees do not get all excited about this and I generally get them all, or all but a half dozen or so. By the way; I do not get right up on the bees--I stand as far back from the super as I can and still get the bees out--in other words, as little force as possible.
Cover the super with something and you are ready for another.
[This message has been edited by Oxankle (edited June 09, 2004).]
[This message has been edited by Oxankle (edited June 09, 2004).]
For as long as I can remember, it has been BEE-GO (YUCK) and a brush. This year I have been borrowing my father-in-law's leaf blower. Removing honey supers went from hours to minutes. My different bee yards are surrounded by pasture fields so there is tall grass to aim the bees in. When blowing them out, they don't seem to get upset. Not like the brush made them. I am going to try to convert a vacuum cleaner hose to the blower. This way I can leave the blower on the ground.
Have used a gas leaf blower with vaccuum hose and clevis nozzle to blow bees from about a ton of honey a year, for over thirty years. I have a sturdy lazy susan made from a drafting stool, top plank has a slot to allow super handle grip to drop into. Blower works great, noisy and obnoxious as hell. Blow all the bees somewhere you won't walk on them.
Another vote here for the electric bee blower. Bought a Toro (rated best in Consumer reports) from Home Depot (~$50). For outyards, an DC->AC converter on the vehicle takes care of the electric.
Does the job fast and the bees do not get POed at all.
I am not comfortable using Bee-Go or any other chemical remover because, though while efficient, it's just introducing another chemical into the hive where foodstuff is being harvested. I DO NOT know for a fact that there there is no residual and there are ALWAYS open cells of honey on frames when removed from the hives for extracting.
If you feel that you must use a leaf
blower on your bees, try blowing some
bees from a super in a barn with a well-
swept floor, or in the field with some of
those disposable painting tarps spread
around the area where the blowing is being
The carnage that results from using
a leaf blower on bees is appalling.
Most people never notice, as the
grass hides the dead, and the chaos
caused by the blower makes it hard
And yeah, I've got a very good blower.
(I use it for spraying in my orchard.)
A Stihl backback unit, with adjustable
velocity and flow volume. We have tried
a number of different settings in an
attempt to find a set-up that does NOT
kill so many house bees.
To each his own, but don't ask me to watch.
Ah. A challenge! I like that. You have talked me into it. Just before I begin the super blow, I will put either some large opaque plastic sheeting or a number of white sheets behind the supers and "take stock of the dead". I plan to start removing supers by the end of the month. I will report back here with the results. I'm guessing that the "carnage" will/would not be as extensive as you are suggesting.
This should be interesting.
On the chemical note, I was reading in The Beekeepers Handbook that fumigant should not be used on comb honey supers because it adversely affects the flavor of the honey. To me, that translates as a residual chemical in and on the honey in extracted as well. Bad.
[This message has been edited by John Seets (edited July 06, 2004).]
I use a shop vac to blow out my bees. Has enough velocity and power. Plus I have access to power. Gee with all the power converters out there and a cigarette lighter you guys should have no problem using an electric shop vac with a narrow opening at the end of the hose.
I have never seen a carnage of bees when blowing. I blow onto paving and only see a few dozen after hours of blowing. Not as many as I see when the mites kick in good. How many cows a day die to supply the worldwide supply of hamburgers ?
This post is a followup to my previous post regarding dead bees using a leaf blower and to refute jfischers assertion that extensive bee deaths occur using these blowers.
First let me state that the blower I am using is a Toro. It was rated by Consumer's Reports as one of the best rated producing wind speeds in excess of 200 MPH.
As usual, I blew that bees out of my honey supers this year using the aforementioned blower. To be clear, I blow out the bees from the top bars of the frames toward the bottom bars. Not the other way (from bottom to top as I have seen stated elsewhere). I have to assume that more bee deaths would occur blowing bees from the bottom of the frames towards the top bars. Blowing them in this manner would essentially force the bees from a larger area into a smaller area (as in a funnel) which would result in compacting the bees resulting in more bee deaths during the process. I did not do this.
I placed a 20' x 30' silver tarp in front of the first 84 supers that I blew the bees out of. After that, I got ****** tired of dragging that tarp around and figured that this would be enough for a sample count.
To further clarify test conditions, the day was ~84 degrees f., no wind and overcast with no rain. The supers that I counted dead bees on the tarp were for supers that had bees on all frames of the super. I did NOT count dead bees blown on to the tarp for supers with bees on LESS THAN 10 frames. Furthermore, I swept the bees up into a dustpan to collect them. When counting them, I counted BOTH thoraxes AND abdomens as separate bees where there were only parts to count.
84 full honey supers yielded a total of 714 dead bees. I feel that this number is well within acceptable limits to NOT qualify as excessive carnage and in line with my thumb-fingered manipulations during the bee blow. 714 / 84 = 8.5 dead bees per super. Not bad.
I also noted that shortly after a super blow, there were knots of disoriented bees on the tarp. However, they flew away shortly thereafter. This may have been what mister fischer saw during his use of a bee blower.
I also noticed that supers that had open cells resulted a longer time to remove the bees from these supers because some portion of the bees would crawl into the open cells making them more difficult to remove. I surmise that this may result in more bee deaths.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that using a bee blower is the best non-chemical way to remove the bees from the honey supers.
How about the exhaust fumes from the gas powered leaf blowers - how do you keep it from contaminating the honey? Thanx
You blow the bees from the end of a hose. The exhaust is far away and aimed away from the supers.
Od,I bought a Homelite leaf blower and they had routed the exhaust into the air output,i guess to keep the noise down in Cal.But it didnt take much to modify it.I wore out an Echo blower that I liked a lot better .I only use the blower to finish off the odd super that bee-go doesnt clean out.
---Mike(post 666 -beware!)
[This message has been edited by loggermike (edited August 11, 2004).]
I have also blown out onto a tarp, to look at the dead bees due to my blowing few years back. For the amount of dead bees damaged bees for all the bees I blew was negligable. I have never even concerned the fact again. I am not overly agressive when blowing, but keep things snappy.
> This post is ... to refute jfischers assertion that extensive
> bee deaths occur using these blowers.
Sorry, but nothing was refuted, as I will point out below.
>...producing wind speeds in excess of 200 MPH.
You don't want air velocity, you want air volume.
If you MUST use a blower, and you are well away from
any neighbors who might be frightened by the cloud of
bees that you will create with a blower, get yourself
a Stihl backpack blower, so you can adjust both air
velocity and air volume. Professional lawn and
tree-care guys use these, and for good reason. They
are worth every penny, as my orchard will prove.
(I spray dormant oils every spring on my trees)
>It was rated by Consumer's Reports as one of the best
What John neglected to consider was that Consumer Reports
tested it for what it was designed for, blowing leaves.
> I blow out the bees from the top bars of the frames toward the
> bottom bars.
Bees build comb with an upward slant so that nectar does not
drip out. Bees rest in cells "head in", and, if bothered, many
will climb into cells, leaving their rear ends sticking out.
Blowing from the top, especially at 200mph, will prevent these
bees from backing out of the cell, and break these bees in half.
This is the reason that every bee book I've seen, and most educated
beekeepers will strongly suggest blowing from the bottom of the super,
and never the top. John's bees killed in this manner certainly may
not have ended up on the tarp, as one must recall that half a bee will
fall much further from the blower than a whole bee. One would expect
that this would be a major source of yummy bee parts in one's honey.
as half the bee would still be stuck in the cell.
> Not the other way (from bottom to top as I have seen stated elsewhere).
> I have to assume that more bee deaths would occur blowing bees from the
> bottom of the frames towards the top bars.
Nope, the only reason that you blow from the top may be that your plastic
frames, if not full and not propolized, would tend to fly across the yard
when blown from the bottom. The good news is that if the bees pay any
attention at all to these frames, they will build bridge comb and propolize
the heck out of them, as they have neither top bars compatible with most
supers, nor are they compatible in terms of overall height. The best
compromise I could find was to cut down the frame rabbet AND cut the
bottom of a super off to match these frames, but even then, I still had
> Blowing them in this manner would essentially force the bees from a larger
> area into a smaller area (as in a funnel) which would result in compacting
> the bees resulting in more bee deaths during the process. I did not do this.
This might be the case at 200 MPH. I dunno, and I doubt anyone else has ever
attempted to blow bees with a 200 MPH blower. But the cell-slant problem
certainly does kill bees.
> I placed a 20' x 30' silver tarp in front of the first 84 supers that I blew
> the bees out of.
At 200 MPH, one tends to see houses and trees blown more than 30 feet,
something that one can see on the Weather Channel when they play "Storm
Stories". Bees are very lightweight, and most would be blown much further by
> 84 full honey supers yielded a total of 714 dead bees.
...that John could see on the tarp. I did my test in a well-swept barn.
I know it would be a pain to clean out a barn just to test a blower, but I'll
say it again, the carnage is extensive and repulsive. It was abhorrent to the
beekeepers who swept up and weighed/counted the bees.
> I also noted that shortly after a super blow, there were knots of disoriented
> bees on the tarp. However, they flew away shortly thereafter. This may have
> been what mister fischer saw during his use of a bee blower.
Nope, when you sweep up dead bees and put them in zip-lock bags and then weigh
the bags on "0.1 gram" scales because you just have too many dead bees to count,
you tend to notice if any of the bees are alive or start to move around.
These bees were well and truly dead.
> I also noticed that supers that had open cells resulted a longer time to remove
> the bees from these supers because some portion of the bees would crawl into the
> open cells making them more difficult to remove. I surmise that this may result
> in more bee deaths.
Moreso when blowing from the top.
John also said, in a prior post:
> I am not comfortable using Bee-Go
Who would be?
> or any other chemical remover
Let's not tar everything with the same brush as Bee-Go.
> because, though while efficient, it's just introducing another chemical into the
> hive where foodstuff is being harvested.
Well, Bee-Go and Honey Robber are chemicals that are not food grade, are not
food-safe, and are not even supposed to come anywhere near food for human
consumption. The EPA revoked the "exemption from the requirement for a tolerance"
for this stuff back in 1998.
That's why we invented Bee-Quick. All natural, non-chemical. We will even have
USDA Organic approval (and the big green USDA dot) by next season. The only
difference between the "Organic" and the "Non-Organic" versions will be mere
paperwork, but the paperwork and administrivia will be extensive enough that we
will have to charge more for the Organic version. Using 100% organically-produced
ingredients is easy, but doing the darned paperwork is not only time-consuming, but
is also boring as heck.
> I DO NOT know for a fact that there is no residual
Someone who gets a 200 MPH blower would likely also use too much repellent,
and therefore would create a potential residual problem.
> and there are ALWAYS open cells of honey on frames when removed from the
> hives for extracting.
Funny how in all the years that the large commercial beekeepers have been using
nothing but repellents and fume boards or breeze boards, no one has ever had
a "residual problem", isn't it?
Maybe the folks that buy the stuff by the 5-gallon pail, gallon jug, and 55-gallon
drum do some thinking about how to use it properly.
I think you done lost this argument in everyone's opinion except your own.
I have blown bees for several years now and I never find any yummy bee parts in my honey. My experience is that the bees are about like shuttlecocks; they blow out a few feet and stop like a badminton bird.
I know nothing of your hives, but in mine the bees fill out the comb so that the space at the bottom of the frame is ab out equal to that at the top, so blowing from either direction is about the same. I spin and blow from each direction so that those bees who hide in the frame rests are persuaded to leave.
True, if there is open comb some bees will snatch a sip before being blown out, but they too leave after a bit. Only when there is brood in the comb do you have true stragglers, and even they are unharmed.
I agree with the poster who is concerned about the exhaust routing. I don't like the idea of exhaust gases flowing over honey. I still prefer the gas blower if the exhaust is deflected.
I think you done lost this argument in everyone's opinion except your own.
I have to agree with Mr Fischer. I hope to never use bee go or honey robber again. Both products clear supers effectively but stink and can't be good for the honey. I have used several different leaf blowers. We now have a Kelly blower. I don't buy the argument that blowing bees is near as easy on bees as bee quick, but that is just my view point.
> I think you done lost this argument in
> everyone's opinion except your own.
I have not changed the opinions of those
who refuse to consider facts, but one can
never change those opinions.
I was also not aware that you were spokesman
for the entire group.
Thanks, I'll be sure to copy you on future postings.
> I have blown bees for several years now and
> I never find any yummy bee parts in my honey.
Then you are not looking in your filter, or
you are lying. No matter how one removes
supers, one is sure to have a dead bee or two
make it into the extractor. EVERYONE can find
a dead bee part or two in their honey. That
said, you get more with a blower.
> I know nothing of your hives, but in mine the bees
> fill out the comb so that the space at the bottom
> of the frame is ab out equal to that at the top,
> so blowing from either direction is about the same.
John Seets was the one who spoke of "narrower" versus
"wider", not I. My comb is much like yours - drawn out
even. I use 9-frame supers to insure that it gets drawn
out where uncapping is not hampered by top bars.
> True, if there is open comb some bees will snatch a sip
> before being blown out, but they too leave after a bit.
Many of these bees are "leaving" into two pieces, which
is a darned shame.
> I agree with the poster who is concerned about the exhaust
Me too. If you feel you must use a blower, use one that
blows only air.
Hi,whatever happened to the use of bee escapes such as the Quebec model? Does it not work or is it too time consuming? I am convinced that the addtitional amount of time for a commercial operation is prohibitive, but what about us hobbiests?
I use a bee escape boards but I have time and bee tight equipment. After a day I put the suppers on top of a box fan blowing up.