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May 13, 2010

Swarm trap and $3 bait hives

Bait hive working
Before we begin building our $3 honeybee swarm trap (swarm box) & bait hive you need some info.  I am going to call this a bait hive as this is what most call it.  A bait hive should be placed in every apiary to catch swarms from the hives. More than one would be better.

Your bait hive should be placed 15' to 30' up a tree.  You will need to be able to lower the hive once it contains bees.  In this design, you can throw a rope around a limb near the trunk (this keeps the spinning down) or using a long pipe or stick, you can drop a role of line around the limb.  No pipe you say?  Try using a spear with the line tie to it (weight is the key).  Click on the photos for a larger view.

You will need the following:

  1. Hot glue - It helps to reinforce the weaves and adds strength
  2. A trash basket (cane or wicker works well)
  3. Another basket, piece of cardboard or wood for the front of the hive
  4. Some nylon tie wraps, you could also use twine or small rope
  5. Some old chunks of comb (old, not moldy), if you don't have some, don't worry
  6. Either liquid swarm lure, lemon-grass oil or anise oil (look on the products page if I sell it)
  7. Rope (1/8 or larger, no twine) to hang, lift and lower the bait hive with. (you can also attach a rope to the hive to pull it down, recommended)
There should be no liner in the trash can.  The open weave of the basket lets the smell of the honeycombs and the oils out.  Use the hot glue to seal the splices of the weave together (see photos) and to reinforce the centers of each basket.  This helps to ensure that the hive does not come apart as it hangs outside.  This also strengthens the necessary attachments points for the rope.
Hanging loops detail
In one end of the hive you need to cut an entrance about 3/4" x 1 1/2".  To big of a hole and you have a bird house and not a swarm trap.  You will also need to attach two loops (one at each end) to hang the hive from (see photos).

Before attaching the two halves, place the chunk of old comb inside the hive and rub some lure scent (what ever you have) INSIDE the hive near the entrance or sprinkle it on a cloth and place inside.  Don't go crazy with the oil and only use one type.  Mate the two halves together and secure with 4 nylon ties.  When filled, you cut these loops to get the bees and combs out. Use two ties to make the rope attachment loops at each end. See photos.

Detail of entrance

Find a tree or building to place the hive.  Attach a small rope to the loops at each end.  This is used to attach the hive to your lifting rope.  You can level the hive by moving the knot to one end or the other so the hive hangs level.

Get the rope around the limb and pull the hive up the tree.  Tie the end of the rope to the tree, a limb or a nail in the same tree so you can lower the hive.  White nylon rope snags a lot on the bark, try a natural rope or poly rope.

Waiting for a swarm
When the bees come, give them some time to check it out.  You should lower the hive soon after the swarm comes.  If you wait to long they could leave.  Consider placing sugar syrup nearby.  If after some time you have no bees, try a different oil or maybe another location.  Lower the hive and sprinkle the oil on some cloth and place inside.  Good luck.

With plywood front - cane basket
Made with a $3 laundry basket and a plywood front.  You can see the bees beginning to cluster on the bottom.  These bait hives can also be coated with dung, mud or painted paper mache to enclose it more if desired.  During swarm season, try placing some form of swarm hive on a stick about 6 feet tall and about 15 feet from your hives.  Sometimes YOUR swarm goes right for it.

You can also make a low cost swarm trap out of a cardboard filing box available from an office supply store. Just add scented oils or bee lure and some old comb.  You can use the hand holes as the entrance, just tape/block one closed, leaving only one open.

Here's a video on making a swarm trap from a concrete sonnet tube you can buy at most building supply stores.

If your looking for an article on how to use the cone type trap below, HERE is an article by Mannlake.
Below are a few pictures of various other swarm traps.  This site has plans available in the DIY section also.
Cone type w/sign
Nuc used as swarm trap
TBH swarm trap

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