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Author Topic: How To Make A Swarm Trap  (Read 7568 times)
Anonymous
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« on: May 26, 2005, 02:56:07 PM »

Ok, I've just spent the last hour searching the archives for info on this.  How do I make my own swarm traps?  Can I just use a bucket with a lid and a hole in it?  Does it have to have drawn comb in it?  Does it matter what color it is?

I'd rather not use a hive body, if I can help it.  I'm trying to keep my costs down.

Please help as soon as possible.  I got a call today from a guy who has bees in an old tree trunk in his back yard and I'd like to try and lure them out.

Thanks!
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Apis629
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2005, 03:10:31 PM »

The swarm trap idea you have sounds ok but just remember that without frames you'll have to cut the comb out.  Bees are more attracted to already drawn comb than foundation or an empty space and you should try a few drops of lemon grass esential oil to attract the bees.  The lemon grass oil smells like the nasov pharamone to the bees.  Just remember if your hiving an already established colony instead of a swarm that you'll need a queen in the trap and a bee escape over the existing colonies enterence/enterences.  Hope this helps.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2005, 03:10:43 PM »

>Ok, I've just spent the last hour searching the archives for info on this. How do I make my own swarm traps?

First let's define a swarm trap.  The are often more accurately called a bait hive.  The object is simply to provide a home that is irresistable to a swarm.  A bait hive will NOT induce a hive to swarm.  What it will do is hopefully be available and interesting as a potential home to an impending or existing swarm.

> Can I just use a bucket with a lid and a hole in it?

Anything that would make an enticing home for bees will work.  Plastic isn't the easiest thing to attach wax to and doesn't seem appealing to bees based on their actions with plastic foundation, but obviously bees sometimes move into such things.  So it could work.  The best is an old bee home.  A used nuc or a used box that smells like bees.  If you want to use the bucket I'd rough up the inside with some 40 grit sandpaper so they can cling to it as a cluster better.

> Does it have to have drawn comb in it?

No, but drawn comb is one of those things that makes it more enticing.  The studies I've seen say that swarm lure is much more important, but drawn comb by itself often works, so it's bound to help.

> Does it matter what color it is?

Only if it's in the sun and the color makes it too hot.

>I'd rather not use a hive body, if I can help it. I'm trying to keep my costs down.

I bought a bunch of the wax coated MDA boxes from Dadant and uses those with frames with starter strips.  I also bought plastic MDA boxes from MDA.  The plastic were harder to handle, but they held up in the weather better.

>Please help as soon as possible. I got a call today from a guy who has bees in an old tree trunk in his back yard and I'd like to try and lure them out.

You cannot lure bees out of a home.  Nothing will lure them out.

You can sometimes "trap" them out by making a one way exit with screen wire by making a cone.  This is a complex system that never has worked as well for me as the simplistic descriptions in ABC XYZ of Beeculture or Dadant's The Hive and the Honey Bee.  But if you do it right you can extract a lot of bees when the foragers can't get back into the hive.

If the hive is about to swarm and you put the cone on, you could catch the swarm either by getting it manually into a box, or by having a bait hive 300 yards or so away as an inviting new home for the swarm, and then, if the cone is on, a few days later when the virgin queen goes to mate, you might get her also.  Once the existing colony is hopelessly queenless (because you have the new queen and she hasn't started laying so there are no eggs to make a new queen) you have the potential to lure/trap them out to a hive with their queen in it using the cone and some brood and bees and the queen.

"Trapping swarms" is like fishing.  It's all about location and bait.

Speaking of bait.  There is commercial swarm lure, which works fine or Lemongrass essential oil, which is cheaper and works just as well, if not better.  Then there is "queen juice" where you keep putting all your old queens in a jar of alcohol to kill them and eventually use the alcohol as swarm lure.  You can also make your own swarm lure from equal parts of citral, geranoil, nerolic acid.  But it will smell just like Lemongrass essential oil and it will cost you more money.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
Anonymous
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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2005, 04:04:33 PM »

"Bait hive".   rolleyes   Darn it.  Why did I get stuck on "swarm trap".  I'll search again.

But, Michael, thank you very much for the input.  I think you've helped me see the possible folly in my plan.  I didn't really know how to proceed and I had read bits and pieces of what you've told me in my searches.

I wish I had pics that I could show you.  I really don't think the cone screen deal will work for me either.  The shape and location of the hole in the tree is really irregular.  I'd have to make a failry large cone and secure it to the tree with about fifteen bajillion staples.  Also, if I would need to set my bait hive "300 yards or so away", well, let's just say that in this setting, 30 FEET would be on the next neighbors property  Sad   100 yards would be five houses down...

The only promising thing from this was that the guy called me back to say that a "cloud of bees" had formed in his yard and a cluster had formed in a bush.  But within a couple hours, they were gone and there was still many bees around and in the original tree.  It seemed that they had swarmed out and gone back the same day (the weather turned chilly and cloudy, maybe that forced them home prematurely).  Thinking that they might be wanting to swarm out, I was hoping to provide them with a bigger, hopefully better home.  But it would have to be within 30 feet.  (I think the guys back yard is about 60 x 60 square.

I think I like the sound of the lemongrass essential oil.  I'll check with some local health food/specialty food stores here.

This time of year, a lot of folks are planting new shrubs and stuff.  Would the fiber buckets that roses come in be large enough to make a bait hive out of?  I think the ones I have are only about a gallon each. I could fit a lid on top...

Thanks again!!!  John
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2005, 04:39:51 PM »

If he/she's not in a hurry and you just want to catch swarms you can try putting some lemongrass oil and some QMP (bee boost from Mann Lake Ltd) on a branch and maybe they will settle there and stay long enough you can get them.

As for the cone.  There are many variations to the idea.  You can put some Screen over the entire opening and then wire a cone to the middle of that with a hole in the screen to let them out.  (just cut an "X" in the middle and fold it out and use wire to tie the cone to the "X").  Put a hive with a queen and a frame of brood and bees next to the cone, if possible and a lot of the bees MAY move into the hive.  But my experience is that the humans living there usually panic when so many confused bees, who can't get in their house, circle a lot.  Most people assume bees that are flying are angry.  Of course this is not necessarily true.  But usually the homeowner ends up spraying the bees and I waste all my time.

If you have a large opening, sometimes you can reach in and cut out the comb and tie it into empty frames and put it in the hive.  The more of the comb in the tree you put in the hive, the more likely they will settle in the new hive instead of the tree after you add the screen wire cone.

Swarm Trap is a common term.  As is Bait Hive.  But trap insinuates that the bees can't leave.  Of course they can.  Bait hive insinuates that you are trying to lure them in.  You are.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
fuzzybeekeeper
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2005, 05:16:25 PM »

John G,

The second listing on this site:

www.beemaster.com/beebbs/viewtopic.php?t=2498&highlight=screen

explains the "cone" method.  As Michael said, you can't lure an existing hive out of their home, but you can transfer them to YOUR hive and then move them some night.  Remember, this takes several weeks to complete.

I think the difference is semantics.  A "swarm" is a partial hive that has left its home and is waiting for its scout bees to find a permanent place for them to live.  This is a natural process for bees.  A swarm is fairly easy to hive and move.

I believe what you are talking about is a hive of fereal (or "wild") bees that someone wants removed because they are a nucience.   They have been in this location for weeks or years and are "entrenched" and won't want to move.  You will have go in and remove them (lots of hard work), use a cone to prevent them from re-entering, or destroy them.  I'm sure there are other methods, but those are the basics.

A "swarm trap" or "bait hive" is a good way to attract a swarm when they are leaving their hive.  It is hung from a tree and is there all the time.  The scout bees find it and convince the swarm that this is a good place to live, so the swarm followes them "home".  You can then easily transfer them into the hive that you have built.  

While a swarm trap can be used to carry a swarm that you have "found" and shaken from a branch or whatever, that is not what it is intended for.  It is designed to be there all the times to provide a "lure" when you are unavalable.  You can get them from Mann Lake or Dadant for about $15.  I also ordered the queen pherenome for about $20, but I understand from what Michael writes that Lemmongrass Oil is just as good and much cheaper.  I caught a swarm twice the size of my 3 lb. package within 48 hours of hanging it up.  I have caught 3 swarms in the past three months.  It was a GOOD investment.

Fuzzybeekeeper
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2005, 05:27:31 PM »

I don't know how the fiber buckets would work.  The ones that Mann Lake and others sell seem to work and the look a bit like that.  But I've never tried them.  I didn't want to have to do a cut out if I could avoid it.  Smiley
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
Anonymous
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« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2005, 05:46:40 PM »

Really usable info, thank you all very much.  I didn't realize that a bait hive would be so cheap.  I'll check with my local bee stuff pusher  Cool  and see what they've got.

I'm going to call the home owner here in a minute and explain (try to) the process and how long this might take.  Don't think I can get my hand into the tree, even if I was brave enough  rolleyes

I'd really like to increase my bee yard.  Maybe I'd better start learning to tell folks 'no' and just go for the easier swarm calls.  I made up a little card and dropped one off to our village PD and also one to the township FD with my pager number.  They seemed pretty happy to have the info and the Fire Dept actually asked about possible training or info session about bees and beekeeping practices.  That might work out really well for our bee club.

This is such a great hobby.  I'm really enjoying it and I really appreciate the seasoned beekeepers here on this site.

John
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firetool
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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2005, 10:34:32 AM »

John G,
Is this a tree or an old log that has fallen.If it is a log I would try to cut it open carefully. Then you could remove the comb and the bees.You should be able to get the queen this way to.After I get all the comd and bees out I would move thee log and set the hive where the log had been so the foragers could find the new hive.By night fall all the remaining bees should be inside the hive.Then the log can be removed to prevent any from comeing back again.
Michael do you think this would work to. I think this is what I would try.If you dont think it is a good idea though fill free to tell him so.

Brian
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Anonymous
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2005, 12:21:40 PM »

Thanks, firetool, but this is a live (mostly) tree.  I see you're from Lubbock.  Do you know anyone named McNemee?
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jxbeeman
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« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2005, 12:46:16 PM »

i've read somewhere that some research was done and the best size swarm trap was a cavity larger than 12" square.  also the best results were found to be at around 10 from the ground.  it is also a good idea to place some comb inside to attract them.  maybe some lemongrass also.
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Anonymous
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« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2005, 01:09:52 PM »

If you happen across where you found that info, I'd appreciate it!
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