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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,141

    Default Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    Last year (only my second honey crop) robbing was at a fever ptch by the time that I pulled honey, and it was fairly sucky to say the least. I got plenty of bees inside the garage to keep me company during the process.

    Robbing is not bad yet, and I'm planning on doing it early next week.

    This year I would like to do it with less drama if possible. My "honey house" is close enough to my apiary that they can home in on it if I get them started, so I would like to get the supers as bee free before I even get there, pull in, shut the door with the truck and all inside.

    So, a fume board did not accomplish this last year, but I'm thinking that if I pull supers late in the evening and load them on my truck under bee escapes, but leave it in the yard until dark - at least all of the foragers might go home. Anyone know?

    Alternatively, but less convenient I could take them a couple of miles away, and blow them out (leaving a box with brood or a queenright nuc to collect the strays.

    Will either of these work?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,010

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    The only successful way of getting all the bees out that I have used is to knock the nurse bees off the combs individually and put the comb in a covered empty box. You will get some bees back in the box as you uncover it to put the combs in. After the new box is full of combs move it 100 ft away and wait until dark. Usually the ones that flew in will go back to the hive because they are foragers. I have had no luck with a bee escape. Nurse bees just won't leave.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,901

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    Someone just the other day on here suggested just removing the supers bees and all, and standing them next to the hive until all the bees leave, of course this wouldn't work during the robbing season, but otherwise it will work its just a matter of how long you need to wait. Doing it later in the day and picking up the supers at nightfall would probably work. John

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,141

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    I use queen excluders so hopefully I won't have much brood to deal with. Although that is probably wishful thinking, I had brood above excluders last year when I pulled honey, and I have found brood above an excluder already earlier this year. But yes, I am aware of that issue. It was part of my problem last year, I didn't recognize that I took a box or two of brood into the garage I just knew I couldn't get all of the bees out.

    The bee escapes I am talking about are a little different than the mail order ones - more like a giant trap out cone that goes on top of the stack and lets the bees out to the world.

    That was Mark B. that said he sets all of the supers off on their sides for a while before collecting them - I plan to try that.

    I'm just looking for an easier way than what I've tried before, but I want to try to get just about all of the bees out this time - in the laziest way possible.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,989

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    >Alternatively, but less convenient I could take them a couple of miles away, and blow them out (leaving a box with brood or a queenright nuc to collect the strays.

    Why take them miles away? I blow them out towards the hive and they fly back in. Most of us own a leaf blower, electric blower or air compressor and that is all you need.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,141

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    That is exactly what i did last year. Maybe it will work better because robbing is not yet too bad.

    The idea of taking the supers some miles away - maybe a bad idea - is so that the robbers don't get a chance to follow me into the garage. It's only about 300 feet from the bee yard. Realize that in any event i was planning to get as many out to begin with as possible. Last year a mass of robber bees just followed me into the garage.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,758

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    since i only pull two mediums at a time, i use the method ace described.

    i pull one frame at a time, make sure it's all capped, give the frame a good shake, brush off the few remaining bees, and put them into an empty box that is kept covered.

    i then use a golf cart to move the supers into the garage, so this method limits the amount of lifting and moving the heavy full supers which is easier on my back.

    turns out my garage is air conditioned and the humidity is relatively low in there. i like to leave the supers in the low humidity with air blowing through them for 48 hours before uncapping and extracting.

    it's slow, but only a couple of bees end up in the garage and the fly swatter deals with them.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,758

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    i should have added that a frame grip makes this a lot easier, the kind that clamps the top bar tight.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Downingtown, PA
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    I typically add bee escapes under the supers I want to harvest a day or two before removal, closing any top entrances. There are always a few stragglers there on harvest day. I turn the supers on end on the back of my truck and use a leaf blower to vacate the remaining bees and stack covered.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    1,170

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    That is exactly what i did last year. Maybe it will work beotter because robbing is not yet too bad.

    The idea of taking the supers some miles away - maybe a bad idea - is so that the robbers don't get a chance to follow me into the garage. It's only about 300 feet from the bee yard. Realize that in any event i was planning to get as many out to begin with as possible. Last year a mass of robber bees just followed me into the garage.
    Leave the light off and walk into the shadows my garage is 20 feet from my hives and 60 ft from my house when ever they get cranky and are flying around my head and following me across the yard I just duck into the garage and they will fly in a foot or so hover then turn around and head back out to the light.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Auburn, NY
    Posts
    497

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    A feather worked for me. I dont have tons of supers though (yet..). Brush all bees off, some will come back, brush again until none on then transfer to empty super a ways away. I had a few following me and when I walked away and turned the corner of the house, the bees left me alone. I couldnt go in the usual door though. Had to go around to the back, out of site of the hive.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
    Posts
    291

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    What about bee escapes? Would that be OK to put on the day before? Also, when it is mentioned to brush them off ...are you just brushing them on the ground in front of the hive? Does that make them angry?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Essex IA USA
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    Last year on an extremely bee-utiful day I decided to extract honey with the garage door open. By the time I finished about 10 supers I had 1,000s of bees in the garage. My solution was to leave the door open until after dark. That was pretty much a failure as there were still 100's of bees left when I got home about midnight. So the next day with the big garage door (no windows on it) closed I opened a small window and fired up the smoker and turned off the lights. With in minutes no more bees.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    Someone just the other day on here suggested just removing the supers bees and all, and standing them next to the hive until all the bees leave, of course this wouldn't work during the robbing season, but otherwise it will work its just a matter of how long you need to wait. Doing it later in the day and picking up the supers at nightfall would probably work. John

    Works real well, just requires to trips or a bit of a wait. Take the super off, set it on the ground on edge(standing up) about 3-4 feet from the hive, no more than an hour before dark..... bees will fell the need to be in the hive at dark and can hear the hum of their hive a few feet away...

    It will not work if the queen is in the super.

    When takeing just frames and empty box, and a brush, covered well when put in the truck works pretty fast. just brush the bees where your not going to walk.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,405

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    Use beego on a fume board and then a leaf blower to get out the rest. Then you leave the lids off in the honey house and they fly out to a window or something. Open it and they are gone.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
    Posts
    291

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    Ace: When you say knock the bees off do you mean holding the frame in one hand and taking the other hand and hitting that hand? Is that how you would describe it. Do you just let the bees fall to the ground in front of hive?. I have had luck with bee escapes but someone told me the hive beetles can get into the honey if you use a bee escape? Any ones thoughts on that? I would just put the escape on the day before extracting.


    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    The only successful way of getting all the bees out that I have used is to knock the nurse bees off the combs individually and put the comb in a covered empty box. You will get some bees back in the box as you uncover it to put the combs in. After the new box is full of combs move it 100 ft away and wait until dark. Usually the ones that flew in will go back to the hive because they are foragers. I have had no luck with a bee escape. Nurse bees just won't leave.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,758

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    Quote Originally Posted by SallyD View Post
    What about bee escapes? Would that be OK to put on the day before? Also, when it is mentioned to brush them off ...are you just brushing them on the ground in front of the hive? Does that make them angry?
    with the frame tightly gripped using the gripping tool and squeezing tightly i walk the frame from the back of the hive around to the front, and a good hard shake dislodges the bees to the ground. the very few bees remaining on the frame get wisked off easily with the brush. and no, it doesn't make them too mad.

    for two supers, i usually have 5 or 6 still on the frames when i close the garage door, they fly to the window and i swat them. done deal.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    710

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    OP,

    I tried beequick this year for the first time. Wonder if that's what you tried last year. The beequick label gives the suggestion of putting a beequick soaked rag into an unlit smoker and simply blowing the fumes in between the frames of a super. Waste of time, the bees simply begin furiously fanning and push the fumes up and out. I made my own fume board, and really it was a breeze board, just felt stretched over a shim. Spray in an X pattern on there and set it on the super. Again, same problem, bees fan and push air upward. Trick is to put the cover, metal side down, on top of my fume board, holds those fumes down. Still only clears the super that the board is on, takes about 3-4 minutes. So fume it, remove it to a covered stack, put the fume board back onto the next super, and while you're waiting for that next super to clear, open the removed super to let the few remaining bees out, they'll leave. If you have lots of hives, make 2-3 fume boards and you can be working all of them at once and keep really busy, you won't be standing around waiting on supers to clear. I previously used escapes and the beequick/fume board/upside down cover combo does very close to as good of a job as an escape w/no return trip.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    barry co., Michigan
    Posts
    317

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    i have added an empty super above the brood nest and and a bee escape between the empty box and the full honey supers. I got rid of 95%-100% of the bees.

    I tried the leaf blower 1 year and a lot of the nurse bees died on my driveway

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon USA
    Posts
    323

    Default Re: Strategies for getting bees out of honey supers?

    What about using a bee vac instead of blower?

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