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What are drone escapes?

2624 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Ricky Bee
OK, so brand new to beekeeping. I don't even have bees yet. I've been reading a lot and I know that I probably know enough to kill any bees I get while thinking I'm doing them good.

Anyway, I keep hearing this term 'drone escape'. I understand that it is to give the drones a way out of the hive if the exit/entrance is restricted. In particular, regarding pollen traps, I'm having trouble visualizing the functionality of drone escapes. If you provide drone escapes in a pollen trap, why don't the foragers the just use the drone escape to get back in the hive? What am I missing? Even without the pollen trap, why wouldn't the foragers just use the drone escape?
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I wish I could shed some light on the subject, but I don't bother with any of that.
My guess is that the forager bees will use the drone escape, but not enough to make a significant impact.
On a Sundance pollen trap there are a row of screen cones:

In the top link above they are that row on the left. They were originally intended to let the drones out, which they do but not let bees in because the cone confuses them. Without the drone escape the drones would clog the pollen trap trying to get out. But in a short time the workers discover that it is easier to exit using the drone escape (bigger hole designed for drones, less work) than to exit through the #5 hardware cloth, so a traffic pattern develops where the workers exit through the drone escapes and enter through the pollen trap. The drones can't get in at all and drift to other hives.
Ok, I didn't realize they had cones attached to them. Exit only, that makes sense.
Also if you use a queen excluder drones can not get through them either, so if you (like I do) add the excluder late in the honey season you should provide some way for drones to get out of honey supers without going through the queen excluder. I just prop the cover open a bit with a twig - in which case that is the drone escape. Any exit intended to keep drones from being trapped inside might be called a drone escape. Workers may come and go through it as well - it doesn't matter as long as the queen is below the excluder and the drones can get out.
So if I'm using a drone escape to facilitate the use of an upper entrance above a queen excluder, all the drones will be trapped out of the hive and drift to other hives. I'm assuming that this isn't a problem for that hive , since they don't really NEED their own drones and they are no longer a burden on the hive's resources. However, if the drones just end up drifting to my other hives, won't that be detrimental to the other hives because they will be overloaded with drones sapping their resources?
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