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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Boston, MA
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    307

    Default Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    I have a few old boxes that I've converted over to swarm traps, 10-frame mediums, 8-frame mediums that I'm going to double up on, and maybe a deep that a friend is going to retire. I also have a few old frames of old brood comb that is as dark as the pit of despair.

    My question is: How empty do you leave your swarm trap? Do you only put a few frames of foundation along with the brood comb and swarm lure and leave the rest of the box empty?

    Or, do you fill the box with frames - undrawn foundation along with the old brood comb and lure?

    Thanks,
    Tony P.
    There must be a harder way to do that... let me find it for you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    4,824

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    It should be full. If you leave empty space and don't get to it fast enough the bees will hang comb from the lid. Comb is better than foundation. I feel that my traps with foundation catch less than traps filled with comb.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Boston, MA
    Posts
    307

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    Thanks odfrank!

    Tony P.
    There must be a harder way to do that... let me find it for you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    I've heard different. That you should leave 1/3 to 1/2 of a swarm trap empty to make it more appealing. That the scouts not only look for room enough for now, but room to expand, and by leaving the empty space it tricks them into thinking its bigger than it really is (as in, if it were full of drawn frames they might pass it by, but the exact same box with two or three missing frames would get them to move in).
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Davie, Florida, USA
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    824

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    I have heard the same as Edy. A couple frames of drawn comb helps, too, but leave the rest of the frames empty with a guide (ie foundationless) so there is room to grow. I would not put an entirely empty box out.

    Editing to add....due to the pissing match that follows....I caught two last season...one in a dead out I hadn't had the chance to break down, and one in a super I had ready to add to a hive, which contained 10 frames with wax foundation. Since I wasn't intentionally TRYING to catch swarms, I chalked it up to 'dumb luck'. When I spoke to a 30+ year Beek that works in the Apiary Division for the State, I asked him. He uses the method I mentioned above. Choosing not to pass on what I still believe to be dumb luck success, I chose to provide what a very respected Apiary Division employee told me.

    Another reason I posted only the first method is a concern for wax moth. If you have wax moth issues, you have to keep an eye on your swarm traps for pest infestation. They'll destroy your hard worked for drawn comb in no time...at least they do here! Good luck!
    Last edited by Bees In Miami; 12-20-2013 at 02:06 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    1,146

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    I use one or two brood comb on the outsides, and then fill the rest with foundationless empty frames to give the appearance of size.
    It's no fun doing a bunch of cutouts on your newly caught swarm, a few empties will save time, comb and easier on the bees.

    According to T Seeley the scout will fly back and forth taking measurements inside the space. Size is a factor in their decision.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    San Mateo, CA
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    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    Both of you say you have "heard". The question is, does that trump my actual experience of catching dozens of bait hives a year using full boxes?




  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Pleasant Shade, TN
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    443

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    Good question. I'm going to try my hand at it this year.
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    Well, if you use foundationless frames, you can avoid wild comb and have a mostly empty box.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Polk Co, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    Odfrank is right. I know from experience. If you leave open area you will be cutting out either drawn from the lid or disorganized comb. That is my actual having done it experience.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    307

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    Thank you everyone!

    Tony P.
    There must be a harder way to do that... let me find it for you.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    151

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    if you need to go foundationless, at the very least alternate frames with foundation then foundationless so you wont have 5-8 frames with cross comb! but yes fill it up with frames as everyone has mentioned previously!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
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    1,858

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    Yeah, you hear a lot of things. They maybe right, maybe not. Both opinions may be right, or not. It's the bees that get to decide who is right. I let success speak for itself. There's nothing wrong with trying something different if not too opinionated to recognize when it's wrong.

    My experience has been to use a couple of nasty, old black frames, a couple of foundationless (but never next to each other) and a couple of foundation or drawn (six frames total in my traps).

    Grant
    Jackson, MO https://www.createspace.com/4106626
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Downingtown, PA
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    238

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    I use 8 frame boxes for my traps and include one empty brood comb and 7 foundationless frames with starter strips. Many of my traps are 4 hours from where I live, so I don't get to check on them frequently. I caught 6 swarms in these far away traps and they all build beautiful frames of comb before I got to them. The key is to get the box hung as level as possible if you are using foundationless frames. Same principle as if it were in your back yard on a hive stand.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    Quote Originally Posted by wildbeekeeper View Post
    if you need to go foundationless, at the very least alternate frames with foundation then foundationless so you wont have 5-8 frames with cross comb! but yes fill it up with frames as everyone has mentioned previously!
    I was probably just lucky, but they made mostly nice comb in the swarm trap on my completely empty foundationless frames with comb guides. They did get one comb a little out of line on one end, but I just cut it back and bent it back into place, and it's been fine. Next year I'll have some dark brood frames to put in the traps, so they'll have a pattern to start with.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    Chattanooga, TN USA
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    685

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    Both of you say you have "heard". The question is, does that trump my actual experience of catching dozens of bait hives a year using full boxes?
    Well to flip it around, have you ever actually used both full and partially empty boxes, and done a statistical analysis of which style has a higher catch rate, if any?

    I don't think anyone would argue that you can or cannot catch swarms with either method, or that there are not pro's and con's to each method. What I would be more interested in is which method is overall more effective in getting a swarm to move in.
    Beekeeper since 2013. Read my bee blog at:
    http://harrisonbayhoney.blogspot.com

  17. #17
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    Jul 2013
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    Pleasant Shade, TN
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    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    My question has now become how long to you leave the comb inside if wax moths and hive beetles are around? Do you pull the frames every few days, replace with new ones, and freeze the originals over night?
    A man is worth just as much as the things about which he busies himself- Marcus Aurelius

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Richland Iowa USA
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    153

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    I use 8 frame boxes and I fill them with foundation-less frames that are empty.. Wax moths WILL destroy any drawn comb within about two weeks if it isnt guarded by bees in this area.
    I use commercial Swarm Lure from Mann Lake as well as a couple drops of LemonGrass Essential oil. As already mentioned it IS important to make sure the box is level side to side. Front to back doesnt matter as much, and I do in fact tilt the front down slightly if it is at all possible. The method I use works, so I have not tried different things, like only a couple frames or an empty box etc.. 90% of the time the bees draw comb in the frames as they were meant to. The other ten percent are a bit of a pain but free bees cant be argued with!
    www.outyard.weebly.com 8 yrs aiding 40+ hives 3 yrs personal. 40+ of my own now (T, TF Goal) Zone 5a

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    >Well to flip it around, have you ever actually used both full and partially empty boxes, and done a statistical analysis of which style has a higher catch rate, if any?

    I have not done a statisical analysis. But I have been catching bees for over 43 years both by accident and on purpose. The accidental ones seem to love six foot tall piles of supers full of comb. And since I have been setting about 50 traps a year for many years now I have tried many combinations. Boxes with only one or two combs have not done as well as boxes full of combs. Boxes with only one or two combs seem to catch one comb swarms. Boxes full of combs usually catch full boxes of bees, or more.

    >My question has now become how long to you leave the comb inside if wax moths
    Moth larvaes only seem to move in after the end of the swarm season. Little trouble with that.

    I am only making eight and ten frame traps after this one flew away from a five framer.


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Hazard, Kentucky
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    155

    Default Re: Swarm Trap: how empty should it be?

    I caught two swarms this spring in 8 frame deep size boxes and only put 3 frames of comb in each one. In both boxes the bees had attached comb to the top.




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