The baffle thing would be much cleaner and easier to deal with if it works.. I guess it just relies on their inabilty to scale smooth surfaces? I wonder what happens when it gets dirty and some traction is then provided.
I first heard of the Beetle baffle probably around late November and actually saw it in person for the first time at the Louisiana State Beekeepers Association annual convention back in December, then again at the ABF convention in January. Hadn't tried one yet for a couple of reasons...First, $16 for four small strips of metal strikes me as excessive...Yeah, I'm probably cheap, but I prefer frugal. :-D
Secondly, because right or wrong, I've subscribed to the theory that a strong hive will "manage" SHB's and keep them in check...and you really don't lose a hive to SHB's, they're simply opportunist, there to take advantage of a weak hive with some other problem.
That being said, if it does work, I'd agree it's a much more usable option than the IPM Screen bottom board and oil trays, that approach was very short lived in my first months of beekeeping, simply more trouble than it was worth in my opinion. Although, If I'm not mistaken while you can use it with a solid bottom board, I think they suggest using it in conjunction with SBB/oil trays.
Regardless...as i ramble on....The point of my post is that the key point of the design is not the smooth surface, it's the angle and length of the downward bend. It's such that a bee can crawl around it, but a SHB, because of it's rigid exoskeleton cannot wrap around it to make the trip up the side of the hive. The answer to SHB's can fly is simply, like bees they fly outside the hive, but not inside.