Experiment... Bees will follow an edge
The drawing shown left (or one very much like it) appeared in a magazine
(A5 size, British, about 1980, glossy paper) it illustrated a method
of increasing the speed of operation of a porter escape board.
The modification consisted simply of fitting two triangles
of 6 mm plywood onto the upper surface of an existing porter escape
The test that I conducted was slightly different... It used
an Eight Way Escape Board.
Four pieces of ramin 7 mm square were fixed in the positions shown in
the drawing below left, using "double sided" adhesive tape.
There was no significance in my choice of 7 mm ramin
strips... There just happened to be several lengths of this material
leaning in one corner of the workshop.
The testing was done using a 75 mm eke that had two adjacent
sides made of perspex (plexiglass?) which was put in place between the
super to be cleared and the escape board which was on the top
of the brood chamber. One of the solid sides was towards the sun so
that direct sunlight did not shine into the space being observed.
There may have been a "Herzog" framed wire queen excluder
between the top of the brood box and the bottom of the escape board,
but I cannot remember whether or not this was the case.
The escape board used had a 63 mm lower rim and a 9 mm upper
Some bees ran about on the inside of the perspex panels.
Those bees that "bumped into" the ramin strips mostly turned
right or left and followed the "edge". I judged (not counted) that 10%
of the bees walked over the strips. Of those bees that hit the strips
near to the centre hole more turned towards the centre hole than away
from it. Those bees that hit the strips near the outer end about half
turned left and half turned right. The density of bees alongside the
ramin strips was greater than in the open spaces. The activity in
the open spaces was not totally random... There was a bias towards
the central hole.
This page has been written from memory, (memory is not
perfect after 20 years) but the original test described and my version
of it are both very simple to duplicate. I would be pleased to hear
from anyone that cares to run the tests for themselves.
Written... Autumn 2001
Revised... 28 February 2002