What Is an Oval Bee Escape?
The Oval Bee Escape is an accessory that fits into the oval cut out of your beehive's inner cover. It is used to expel bees from certain areas of your hive. In most cases, beekeepers use them to vacate the honey super boxes before harvesting them.
Depending on the brand of inner cover you purchase, your cover will have either an oval cut out or a circular cut out. Brands like Busy Bees 'N' More have a circular cut out which is cut using measurements that fit a mason jar feeder. Brands like Hoover Hives or NuBee use inner covers that have an oval cut out that fit an Oval Bee Escape. Using an Oval Bee Escape is a safe and easy alternative to vacating your bee boxes. For this reason, Galena Farms includes one of them as a free gift with each NuBee and Hoover Hives kit we sell.
When Should I Use an Oval Bee Escape?
The first thing you should know is that you won't use your Oval Bee Escape on your hive throughout the year. You should only use a bee escape during the times of the year when you are trying to harvest your honey. The bee escape is used to empty the bees out of the honey supers that you want to harvest.
The main alternative to using a bee escape is pulling your honey super frames out one by one and using a bee brush to sweep bees off of the frames. This method works, but can anger your bees or worse, roll the queen ('Rolling the queen' means to accidentally injure or kill your queen) if you brush the frame she's on before looking for her.
Instead, using a bee escape allows you to empty your honey supers in a harmless manner. By temporarily installing the oval bee escape into the oval cut out, you've created a one way exit that as the bees are exploring the hive, they will exit the box and not be able to re-enter the honey super. This should vacate your bee box of 90% or more of the bees that were in the honey super before.
*As a special note, do not leave your Oval Bee Escape on for more than 48 hours at a time. This is because a honey super that does not have bees in it, does not have protection from honey predators such as Small Hive Beetles, ants, and others that will find a way into the unprotected source of honey. So please pull your honey frames off your hive within a day or two of installing the Oval Bee Escape.
Once you've harvested your honey, you can either put your honey super back on the hive with empty frames, place new frames in the hive or leave the bee box off for the rest of the year. This will depend on the time of year that you choose to harvest.
How Does an Oval Bee Escape Work?
When you’re looking straight at the Oval Bee Escape you will see a large circular hole. This hole is the entrance to the one way escape. The circular hole is where the green arrow in (Figure 1) is pointing to.
The Oval Bee Escape is actually two pieces that slide together. They come apart so that if anything gets caught in between the two prongs (such as a piece of grass, a bee, or burr comb) you can easily get inside to fix it.
Inside the plastic oval, the bees have two choices on which way they can go, (Figure 2). Following the green arrows, you can see that the bees can either go one way out the exit or the other.
If you notice, the plastic pieces inside the rectangular bottom make an angle. These prongs can be exited through, but once the bee has gone through the prongs close back together and the bee can not re-enter into the honey super.
How Do I Install an Oval Bee Escape?
The Oval Bee Escape fits into the inner cover’s oval cut out. The green arrow in (Figure 3) points to the cut out.
To install the Oval Bee Escape, you'll place it into the cut out as you see in (Figure 4 and Figure 5).
Once the plastic piece is sitting in the inner cover’s oval cut out, you’ll need to push it till it clicks in (Figure 6).
Great, you have now successfully installed the Oval Bee Escape!
The backside of the Inner Cover should now look like this (Figure 7). The bees will exit out the backside in the direction the green arrows are pointing.
Where does an Oval Bee Escape Belong in the Beehive?
The next thing you need to do is to place the inner cover that contains the Oval Bee Escape into your hive. Normally an inner cover should be at the top of your hive above all your honey supers, but below your Telescoping Top Cover (the cover with the metal top). In this case though, you'll place the inner cover between the honey super(s) that you are wanting to harvest and the box below it (Figure 8). This may be right above your deep brood boxes, or it might be above the medium honey super that you are leaving for the bees to feed on during the winter.
Make sure that when you place the Inner Cover between the boxes, the Oval Bee Escape is facing in the right direction.
The circular hole (shown in Figure 1) should be facing upwards toward the top of the hive. This way, the bees will exit into the bottom of your beehive (Figure 9).
*As a special note, please remember that when you are using a bee escape, close off your upper entrance if you have one. You do not want your bees that are returning from collecting honey to enter into the honey super while you are trying to empty it.
If you want to uninstall the Oval Bee Escape, you’ll simply push it out from the back side, where the green arrow points (Figure 10).
If you have any further questions on how to use this free gift, please email us at GalenaFarms@gmail.com