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Thread: Catching Swarms

  1. #1

    Question

    What is the best method for catching or attracting swarms? An empty hive in a tree, or one of the cardboard thingy's that resemble a small bucket?

  2. #2
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    I've never tried the swarm traps that look like a bucket, but I've used cardboard nucs and wooden nucs and empty boxes. A well used piece of equipment works better than a new one. Swarm lure or Lemongrass oil helps. If you use a jar of alcohol to dispose of your old queens the juice makes good swarm lure. I've had better luck with them 8' or more up a tree than on the ground. I've also started putting 1/4" hardware cloth on the entrance to keep out the finches who seem to like to nest in them. [img]smile.gif[/img] Some old comb adds the right smell too.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Here's a clip from a fact sheet I have been working on.

    If anyone has more tips I can add, please respond.

    Suggestions on how you can make your swarm traps more attractive to swarms:

    Research has shown:

    Ø Honeybees prefer nest cavity volumes of at least 20 liters or greater. Traps 31 liters, about the size of a medium super or greater are highly attractive.
    Ø When given a choice between identical cavities, swarms will choose those which contain Nasonov pheromone.
    Ø When given a choice between identical cavities, one bated with beeswax and propolis, and one with Nasonov Pheromone, the swarm will choose the cavity which contains Nasonov pheromone.
    Ø Neither cavity shape, nor entrance shape is important.
    Ø Traps are most effective at about 15 feet off the ground.
    Ø Lures used in combination with old combs and hive residue odors such as propolis are very attractive.
    Ø Entrance hole ¾ to 1 inch in size located toward the floor of the cavity is recommended.

    Suggestions:

    Ø If using a hive body, an entrance reducer set at the large position is recommended.
    Ø Stacking more hivebodies (1 up to 4 deeps) is highly attractive.
    Ø Lower trap elevations, and on the ground are fine if height cannot be attained easily.
    Ø Placing some scrapings from propolis and pieces of old comb in the trap makes it more attractive.
    Ø Smearing or melting beeswax inside a bait hive or swarm trap makes it more attractive.
    Ø Place swarm traps near to large objects such as tree trunks, sheds, fence rows and other landmarks or objects that Serve as points of interest for scouting bees.
    Ø Some beekeepers suggest swarms prefer entrance facing south, but others say it makes no difference.

  4. #4
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    Jul 2004
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    Last year Tom Seeley reported that bees prefer a nest site that is:

    1) 5 meters high
    2) has a small entrance (about 1" dia)
    3) has a south facing entrance
    4) is about 40 liters in size (1 deep holds 42 liters)
    5) has old comb or swarm lure

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
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    Raleigh, NC, USA
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    Do swarms instinctivly try to find a hive location in areas away from other beehives? I.e. is it best to place bait hives 1/2 mile or more from the nearest beeyard?
    Triangle Bees

  6. #6
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    Nov 2003
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    I have one particular branch on a pine tree where swarms have settled two years in a row. If I were to put a nuc box baited with lemongrass oil just below that branch, do you think I'd have a good chance of getting a swarm? It'd really be nice if they'd box themselves!

  7. #7
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    Jan 2003
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    oneonta al.
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    Tia:Yes it might work,But I use something bigger than a nuc.
    A man told me last year that he had a tree in his back yard that a swarm landed in it every year.It was a maple I placed a swarm trap in it & got 3 swarm's.Now why they land in that tree I havn't a clue????,He has alot of trees in his yard. :confused:

  8. #8
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    Okay, Mark, I'll set up a medium instead. I thought the smaller the better (?) that's why I said nuc, but I've definitely got boxes I can put out. As a matter of fact, I've recently acquired a whole bunch of used boxes and I've got them stacked right under that tree right now. I'll just make sure the top box has a bottom board, an outer cover and the lure and I'm in business, right?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Totnes, Devon, England
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    From my observations I would say that swarms cluster near their home hive (usually within a hundred yards) and then look for a new home much further away - often a mile or more. So while catching them at their temporary resting place is relatively easy by the usual methods, they may not actually set up home in a bait hive placed there. You may need to place bait hives some distance from an apiary if you want them just to move in, unattended.

    I haven't tried this yet, but hanging 12"x12" boards horizontally from branches near an apiary, with their lower surfaces rubbed with wax, is supposed to attract swarms.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  10. #10
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    Sep 2003
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    mountain home, ar, usa
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    Buckbee is right about distance. Last year I had a swarm land under one of my bait boxes (just yards from my hives), and it took off the next day. Bees instinctively want to get far from the old hive, cause the good Lord knew that it's better that they not compete with the old hive for survival. I had other bait boxes several hundred yards away, and they had swarms stay in them.

    Last year I made platforms up high in the tree... that was a pain and was dangerous. This year I tied a rope around a deep (with old comb and lemongrass oil in them), and tied a half-brick around the other end. Then I just threw the brick over a high limb, hoisted up, and tied it off. Much easier. And getting a honey-laden hive down out of a tree is no easy task... unless you can just lower it down on a rope.

    My two cents... 300 yards away or farther, use lemongrass oil (or a lure), have old brood comb in it, use a deep with the screen bottom board covered up (I use screws to hold the box together), use a small entrance, put 10 foot high in tree, and the rope trick makes it safe and easy.

    Happy Easter Egg and Swarm Hunting!

  11. #11
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    --Do swarms instinctivly try to find a hive location in areas away from other beehives? I.e. is it best to place bait hives 1/2 mile or more from the nearest beeyard?

    Excellent question DB!

    I dug up some stuff that answers your question:

    "In searching for nest sites, a swarm of bees surveys an area of more than a hundred square kilometers Within this area, it is unknown how completely the bees search." .(Scott Camazine, Jennifer Finley, & P. Kirk Visscher 1996)

    "The sites finally chosen by Lindauer’s swarms, and by 13 swarms observed by Seeley and Morse (1977) had a median distance of about 900 m, and few swarms selected sites beyond 1500 m or closer than 300 m."

    "Distance from the swarm to the nest box could also affect dancing buildup, even if there were no differences in quality grading or discovery time for more distant sites, because differences in travel time could lengthen an individual bee’s
    dancing and scouting cycle, decreasing recruitment to more distant sites. This could underlie the trend toward selection of nearby sites reported by Seeley and Morse" (1977).

  12. #12
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    DB, I would still stack up a few deeps in the bee yard as swarm trap.

  13. #13
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    Last year I had a "pile" of old cut-out comb in a box for the bees to rob out. Don't you know it, I had a swarm move into it. It was four foot off the ground and 100 yards form the yard.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  14. #14
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    Mar 2005
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    Liverpool PA
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    I want to put some boxes to trap some swarms (I want to put one were I got some bees out of a house last year and one were I'm going to do this year) were would be the best place to put the boxes. I'm going to get some lemongrass oil like Michael Bush suggested but how much do you put in.

  15. #15
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    >I'm going to get some lemongrass oil like Michael Bush suggested but how much do you put in.

    Three or four drops.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
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    >Three or four drops.

    Do you have to put it in a dish or just drop some on the bottom board? Should I place a box near the house or in the woods?

  17. #17
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    I use frames with starter strips or old comb in them. So I just dribble the three or four drops on the middle of the top bar of the middle frame.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
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    May 2004
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    Rockford, Michigan
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    Any problem with wasp,baldfaced hornets or bumblebees taking over the box while it's empty waiting for a swarm?
    Are these boxes something you leave up all summer, or just during a specific window of time which makes up your swarming period?

  19. #19
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    Mar 2005
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    Kansas City, MO
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    Michael, you can answer this better than most I'm sure, is Kansas City, MO to Nebraska still having swarms of bees very regularly or are the swarms you are seeing coming from you or other local beekeepers. I guess I'm asking if you are seeing any feral bees?

  20. #20
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    Jul 2003
    Location
    Clarksville, TN USA EEUU
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    Last year I had problems with red wasps(with dark purple or black wings) setting up nests on the inner cover from inside my empty swarm boxes.
    Jason G

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