First step in honey harvesting: Getting the bees out of the honey supers. After last year’s fiasco with the Porter bee escape, I thought I’d try something different this time around. I went for the fumigation method, as it was supposedly quick and easy. And it pretty much was.
To use this method, you spray a chemical that’s unpleasant to the bees on a fume board, place it on top of the super you want to harvest, and wait for the bees to leave. The two most popular products are Bee-Go and Bee-Quick. Bee-Go is very chemical-ly, corrosive, possibly toxic, and apparently has a smell variously described as “sour milk vomit” or “like you fell into an outhouse pit.” Bee-Quick, on the other hand, is supposedly completely non-toxic, composed of oils and herbal extracts, and smells like almond extract. After not-so-long consideration, I decided on the latter. (The company also says that they donate their profit to bee research, so that’s a bonus.)
You can buy the fume boards for $10 or so, or make them from wood and felt and such. Or paint a piece of cardboard black on one side. (The fumigants work best when it’s hot, so the black helps heat it up on sunny days.) I opted for the easiest, of course: cardboard it is.
And it really was easy. Spray it on, place it on the super, wait a few minutes. That’s it. Quick and pretty effective. There were a few bees left that needed to be shaken off the frames, but not many. You do need to go super by super (i.e., it only drives the bees down out of one super at a time), but it still takes less time compared to other methods. Seems to be the way to go for me.