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  1. #1
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    Default Different orientation for swarm trap?

    As a would-be beekeeper, I really like the idea of catching swarms (free bees, feral genetics, fishing for bees... just plain interesting stuff, etc.)

    While I have conventional Langstroth equipment for the nucs I'm getting in the spring, I'm also fascinated by top bar hives. So the traps I've started building have top bars rather than frames.

    I like the idea of Tanzanian TBHs because of the interchangeability with conventional equipment, if you make the top bars 19". According to Michael Bush, I should be making the TBH of medium depth. But when I built a swarm trap with those measurement, and of 40 liter volume, I ended up making a whole lot of top bars, which seems counter to the idea of making up a few quick swarm traps. Anyway, 40 liters makes a wide shallow swarm trap.

    Is there any good reason not to arrange the 40 liter volume in a vertical form? To put it anther way, the box would have its longest dimension up and down, kind of shaped like a pack of cigarettes. I'd only need 5 or so top bars per trap across the top. A disadvantage would be that if I forgot about the trap for a month or two, a swarm might build combs over a foot long, but even then, I guess it wouldn't be as bad as a cutout.

    The vertical form would be easier to mount in a stable manner, too.

  2. #2
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    I try to make my swarm traps serve a dual purpose, as they are only going to be used as traps for a relatively short period each year. So if you want to make vertical style 5 bar boxes, I would make them them suitable to use as Lang nucs, when they are not in use as traps. You could temporarily screw some 1x2s vertically to keep the multiple stacked boxes together as a unit, when used as traps.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    3 medium 5 frame Lang boxes screwed together as Rader describes above would be just about the perfect volume.
    Just put top bars where frames would go in each box.
    Be careful when placing it that they don't tilt to one side or another relative to the bars, or else the comb will not hang straight off of it but off to whichever side it leans toward.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    Is there any good reason not to arrange the 40 liter volume in a vertical form?
    Works for me, I caught 3 swarms last season.
    All the info you need is here
    http://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstrea...ney%20Bees.pdf

    Seeley says bees have no preference for shape, but do for size. Follow all the recommendations in the PDF and you'll get lucky

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    Excellent and very useful advice! I really like the idea of stacking nuc boxes. If I put bars in the frame rests, will I have a problem with the upper combs attaching to the lower bars? Ideally, I'd find the swarm before too much comb gets built, but for the most part, these bait hives will be placed up in the North Country of NY, where we have a few acres of woods and meadow. So they might get left for a while when we have to come back to FL.

    The Seeley piece looks to be very helpful. One thing I wonder about is how he arrived at the conclusion that a lower entrance was better for attracting swarms. I've seen that idea promoted elsewhere, but I always wonder about that sort of thing-- often information gets repeated and accepted as received wisdom, but the original basis for the idea is lost... and might not be that solid.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    Seeley's research was done by cutting up a host of bee trees into which wild swarms had moved in central New York, as well as providing variously configured boxes to artificial swarms released on an island.

    I wouldn't draw an absolute conclusion that bees always prefer a lower entrance, but only that bees making selections with choices similar to those within the parameters of his experiment might, or thise in climates similar to the Finger Lakes region of New York might.

    He didn't test all variables by a long shot, so practical application may be limited.

    Still, a little information is much better than none, and a good starting point for one's own research!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    If you goal is to ultimately put the bees in a top bar you should either trap them in a swarm trap that you check often so that you can move them to a top bar before they start building, or put out top bar traps. Cutouts into TBH's are difficult at best.

    I did the math for 40 liters and that seemed like I would need a pretty large TBH trap. I've posted a while back on Top Bar swarm traps and it sounds like folks have had success with TBH traps that are 8 bars in length. I made eight of those, but I'm hedging my bets and made eight that are 12 bars in length as well. And I have a 2 foot long nuc that I'm going to put out as well (not too far from a know strong feral hive). I made mine out of dimensional lumber, so they are not particularly lightweight, but I figure I can use them for splits or small nucs in the future. Going to use LGO and melt a little wax in them as well. Some of these are going to be in locations that I would only be able to check every few weeks and I don't want to have to do cutouts. Now I just hope they don't go crazy and pull the comb the wrong way before I can check them. I'm using bars with a good wedge, so hopefully the girls will pull true.

    I'm also putting out five Bushkill swarm traps (5 frame) and I may put out two ten frame lang boxes as well.

    I think you very deep TBH may work, but the problem is swarming bees are comb building machines. You may get lucky and they start drawing comb from the center of the bars, but then again, they may start on the side drawing down. You could end up with a lot of comb that needs to get trimmed off each bar. And like I mentioned before, cut-outs into TBHs are tough.

    You may want to hedge your bets as well. Put out of couple like that, but also some smaller conventional TBHs for swarm boxes. Do like Radar says, make your hive out of three stacked 5 frame nuc boxes and you can disassemble them for use after swarm season for nucs. If you are using bars for a top bar hive you would only have the bars at the very top of the three boxes. If you put bars on top of each box the bees would not be able to move to the top since the bars of a TBH have no bee space like the top bars of a Lang frame. You really shouldn't need anything other than the 5 bars at the top. You will need to check often. Also hang them as close to perfectly level or you will pay for it later. If you think the bees are in there look for a bee or two carrying in pollen, then you know you have a swarm of bees. Sometimes when they are checking out a trap there will be a decent amount of activity, but a bee will not enter with pollen if they haven't moved in.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    He didn't test all variables by a long shot, so practical application may be limited.

    Still, a little information is much better than none, and a good starting point for one's own research!
    Seeley tested with 10, 40 and 100 liter boxes. It would be great if the same would have been done with 20, 40 and 60 litter boxes. 10 is way small and 100 is huge!

    I don't remember, but I think they did not bait there hives. They did put there hive fairly high up though. I think that LGO has kind of changed the requirements. It gives you a jump start over just an empty cavity.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    My recollection is that they were unbaited as well.

    I have a drawer with a few empty used jz-bz queen cages in it.. every time i open the drawer, it smells very "queeny".

    I'm thinking to put one of them in each swarm trap as well as using LGO.

    We'll see what happens.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    I saw JBtheBeeman use home made QMP by taking dead queens and putting them in alcohol. I've done the same, but to me it just smells like alcohol. I'm sticking with LGO for now, but maybe when I get some more dead queens to put in there it may get a better/different smell. I put two drops of LGO on a piece of cloth and gave it to my daughter to smell it. For two days we could smell the lemon scent in the living room. That stuff is strong!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    Beregondo, I just remembered from ready McCartney Taylors swarm trap book. He said to use QMP or LGO but not both. I guess they cancel each other out.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    I'll probably do an A/B/C split test, each alone as well as together in several traps each and see.

    LGO is strong!
    When I use it, I dip a q-tip, roll most of the oil off on the inside of the vial, and slip it into a ziploc bag, leaving a quarter to half inch of the top unsealed.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    I've been saving pill bottles after I saw a video of Robo with a vial of QMP in a swarm trap. After the bees moved in they sealed up the vial. I though that if I put a couple holes in the bottles it would allows them to propolize the holes closed. But I also liked odfranks idea of mixing it with wax. He gets a lot of swarms so I'm thinking I will at least give it a try.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    You may want to hedge your bets as well. Put out of couple like that, but also some smaller conventional TBHs for swarm boxes. Do like Radar says, make your hive out of three stacked 5 frame nuc boxes and you can disassemble them for use after swarm season for nucs. If you are using bars for a top bar hive you would only have the bars at the very top of the three boxes. If you put bars on top of each box the bees would not be able to move to the top since the bars of a TBH have no bee space like the top bars of a Lang frame.
    That's a good point, but I was thinking of notching the top bars so that bees could use the space below, or just leaving out a bar.
    That might not work so well with an actual hive, but maybe it would work for a bait hive. I wonder, though, if the bees would perceive the cavity as being 40 liters, if bars partially blocked the lower half. I think 2 deep nucs would have about the right volume.

    I know that Michael Bush says that a deep Tanzanian hive might have problems with comb collapse, but I wonder if there's some way to deal with that. Apparently, some folks who run Langstroth equipment and use foundationless deeps are putting a single 1/16" steel rod through the middle of the frame to support the comb, which can be easily pulled out-- to make cut comb, for example. I'm thinking a loop of easily detached steel wire might work to stabilize the combs in a deep Tanzanian hive. The reason I'd like to figure out a way to run a deep TTBH successfully is that I fear a medium hive might not have enough space for a really big colony. When I attended a beekeeper meeting near the NY farm last summer, some of the folks there were talking about having hives with supers stacked too high to reach without a stepladder. I guess that's probably an exceptional situation, but one of the complaints that critics of top bar hives frequently make is that the hive doesn't have enough room.

    I'll be using Langstroth equipment at the farm, but when I go up there this spring, I won't have the tools with me to make more Lang boxes easily, and I just find the top bar hives interesting. I'm thinking I might get lucky and get some feral bees, if I put out a few bait hives. I'm surrounded by woods and rough pasture-- no row crops within miles, and I have yet to see a bee yard anywhere near. But when I was there in July, the blackberries were really thick on the canes, so they're getting pollinated well.

    Anyway, I'm really excited to be getting started. I'm profoundly ignorant, I know, but I'm spending the winter trying to get a little less ignorant.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    I wouldn't started dreaming of of 8 foot tall supers just yet. With TBHs you are not going to get the production of a lang. This has been a theme around here lately. With a Lang you super the hive as you need the space and you pull the supers off in the winter. If you make a TBH that had the volume of a lang with 8 supers on it it would be too big most of the time.

    You can't compare what an beek with Langs and 30 years experience in the right place gets compared to what you will get. Also, keep in mind that no one is running really large top bar hives. There may be a reason for that! I have seen TBH's that have frames that are quite large, but I've never seen them with comb on them. They may not have worked as planned.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Different orientation for swarm trap?

    I'm sure you're right, though these were not long-time beeks who had the tall hives. And I think you're right, too, about the production, in most cases. After all, it must reduce production in a TBH somewhat to have to make new comb constantly.

    Another theme here, I think, is that many TBH designs are too small. Apparently, Michael Bush likes the room in a medium 4 foot long Tanzanian hive, but I have seen many examples of deep Tanzanian hives that length as well. I understand that you can use a follower board to reduce the size of the cavity to whatever is appropriate for the size of the colony. Another idea I've come across is that you can house 2 splits in the same TBH, if the box is big enough, at least for a while.

    Also, I think a TTBH that can use deep Lang frames might be useful in getting comb drawn for Lang nucs. Most of the equipment I'm getting set up for the NY property is Langstroth, and since I can't be up there all summer, I think I have to place most of my hopes on the conventional hives. Just so you won't think I'm getting too carried away, my Lang hives consist of one deep and 4 mediums. I'm stocking them with overwintered nucs from Vermont.

    I'd still like to catch a swarm and try the TBH. It seems like an interesting variation to me

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