The Great (?) Escape
by Donald Ray Burger

Let's go back in history to March 5, 1891. In Volume 27, No. 10 of the American Bee Journal there appeared an article on “bee-escapes.” The “invention of E. C. Porter, of Lewistown, Ills.” received the accolade as the best bee escape. Mr. Porter’s invention is still sold as the Porter Bee-Escape.

The Porter Bee-Escape fits in the elongated oval of the inner cover. Before the days of fume boards, this device was touted as a way of removing frames for robbing without bringing bees into the honey room.

Unfortunately, the Porter Bee-Escape has several draw backs. Most obviously, the inner cover must be positioned below the super from which one in-tends to extract honey. That means you must lift one or more supers full of honey in order to posi-tion the inner cover at its proper location. You must then wait for the bees to enter the bee escape and get trapped in the frames below. Depending on outside temperature this can take between hours and days. Also, the springs in the escape get out of adjustment and cause the escape to perform less than optimally.

Small hive beetles and wax moths like the fact that bees have been removed from the frames intended for harvest. Thus, you have to constantly check to make sure the device has done its job so that the frames are empty of bees for the shortest amount of time possible. In areas where night time tempera-tures are low, the bees tend to go to the lower frames to cluster for warmth. In Houston, such tem-peratures are rare. That’s why fume boards have largely replaced this 1890’s invention.

Written March 12, 2013

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