Question on Swarm Traps
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  1. #1
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    Default Question on Swarm Traps

    I'm going to be making a couple of swarm traps this winter. Essentially, they'll be five frame deep nucs with a board on the back to facilitate hanging in a tree. There are lots of youtube videos on making or using them. Almost every one starts with a comment about swarm scouts look for the ideal space, 40 liters, etc. A five frame nuc isn't 40 liters? Maybe the old comb, newer drawn comb and LGO persuade them to accept this smaller space?

    It's like a mantra that swarm scounts look for 40 liters, however, I know of no one who hoists a full ten frame deep into a tree? The smaller ones work well.

    I guess my question is, where back in the history of keeping bees did this originate?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    The book Honey Bee Democracy by Tom Seeley covers this topic and is a very nice read. He tested how bees choose a homes in his research.
    I think that more space than a 5 frame nuc suits the bees better if they have the option but that doesn't mean that they won't choose smaller places.


    I'm not a swarm trap expert and I read the book a while ago but I think that I am steering you on the right track. I've read that a big swarm can overwhelm a 5 frame nuc. Hopefully Odfrank can respond on this. He is very successful at catching swarms and has even probably covered this in posts elsewhere on the forum.

    Here is a link to that book.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0691147213/...l_9dcr3lvhvb_p


    The past couple of years my friends had bees move into spare equipment that was in their yards and it was double deeps and deeps over mediums so in those cases the bees did pick a bigger box than a 5 frame nuc. That gives some credit to the 40 liters preference.

    I hope that your swarm trapping goes well next season. It is exciting to work on traps and set out to trap bees


    VW

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    Thanks Virgina! The book just went on my "Christmas list" as my wife is always upset with me as she never knows what to get me. :-)

    I got into beekeeping by getting a hive and setting it up and then was going to order a package. My brother stopped by one day and congratulated me on the bees in my hive??? Unknown to me, a swarm had moved in. OK, that was easy. I've since put out empty hives every spring with old brown comb, new drawn comb, foundation, LGO and once tried "Swarm Commander," zero results. :-) I have quite a bit of "woodenware" which I purchased from someone who was getting out of beekeeping. So want to try the traps to add to my two existing colonies.

    Thanks again,

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    Before I was interested in bees I always saw bees taking up residence in wood duck nesting boxes. Seems their about the same size as a five frame nuc. I did however build 4 10 frames swarm traps. I used DCoates plan with 1/2 in plywood.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    One of my famous quotations that will reverberate through history is:

    "A small swarm will fit into a large swarm trap but a large swarm will not fit into a small swarm trap"

    These two did not fit, # 1 flew away, # 2 only fit after the box size was doubled.



    All of my opinions and suggestions are based on my five decades of actual beekeeping,
    not so much on book learning, watching YouTube videos nor reading internet sites.

  7. #6
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    "It's like a mantra that swarm scounts look for 40 liters, however, I know of no one who hoists a full ten frame deep into a tree?"

    I have. Although, about 35 liters works very well for me.

    "I guess my question is, where back in the history of keeping bees did this originate?"

    I believe that 40 liters came three sources. First, that size is in the ball park of what people observe as the size of natural cavities used by bees. Second, that size closely matches the size of the popular ten frame deep box. Third, when Dr. Tom Seeley was setting up experiments on social decision making by bees, he conducted some rough comparisons of bees' preference between three different sizes of boxes to decide how big to build the traps for his studies. To me, it did not appear that he was trying to make fine comparisons among a close range of sizes, such as 30, 35, 40, and 45 liters. Rather, as best as I can recall now, it was a gross comparison, between something like 5, 15, and 40 liters. That was apparently as fine a comparison as was needed because the purpose was not to nail down the perfect size, but rather, was to establish a working size to use in identifying how bees make and communicate decisions. The bees showed a preference, among those three sizes, for 40 liters. In my opinion, (and based on my admittedly frail memory) people have taken those results and regarded them as though they were more a more refined comparison than they were.

    Africanzed bees are reported to prefer smaller cavities than other bees. There are undoubtedly small differences in preferences between various other strains of bees. Large, prime swarms are often stated to prefer larger cavities than smaller afterswarms. And intuitively, that would make sense.

    All that having been said, forty liters is certainly a fine size to use. Where I am, I prefer about thirty-five liters based on convenience and on my experience both observing cavities while doing cutouts and using different sizes of traps. In the end, there is probably not too much difference in the overall effectiveness in the range of twenty-five to forty-five liters, but I would be interested in the results of some well conducted studies in various locations.
    David Matlock

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    Got two swarm traps ready for spring. Used a deep 8 frame box to make a large nuc. Seemed like a reasonable trade off for the ladder.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    My swarm traps consist of 2 five frame medium nucs. I usually run two drawn and three empty frames (in each nuc box) with LGO and queen juice. Twice now, I have had swarms move into them as they were sitting in the back of my truck. One of which moved in within minutes of pulling up to the swarm in a clients front yard. That was cool.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    I have a standardized method of swarm trapping. All my traps are Identical. I have bases that mount to trees via ratchet straps. Onto these bases I set and strap 8 frame deep hive bodies containing 4 drawn frames and 4 undrawn frames. Each has a permanently attached bottom board. When I catch a swarm I simply close up the hive and take it down, and replace it with a new trap. This gives me a uniformed system that I can revolve to any site. The 8 frame boxes are ample for large swarms and small swarms can grow in them. I am not forced to transfer swarms into larger boxes before they have become anchored to the comb.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    I catch bees using ten frame boxes for swarm traps.

    I have had small swarms move into empty 5 frame nucs that had empty comb in them and were just sitting in the yard, but I'm with odfrank on traps I set...I use full size hive bodies.

    And I check them frequently: if the bees are in there long enough to store much nectar,
    getting a heavy box down may require a rope over a limb and or a friend to accomplish safely.

    Checked weekly, that's not much of an issue, though
    Last edited by Beregondo; 12-03-2015 at 11:28 PM.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    LGO and queen juice?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    Quote Originally Posted by DRay View Post
    LGO and queen juice?
    Lemon grass oil and any pinched queens you have -- always save them for the pheromones.
    -- Joe
    "Make your own decision and embrace the consequences." -- jwcarlson

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    Thanks lemmje for the clarification.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    I catch bers use ten frame boers for swarm traps.

    I have had small sesrms move into empty 5f rame nucs that had empty comb in them and were jist sitting in yhe yard, but I 'm with odfrank on traps I set...i use full size hive bodies.

    And check them frequently: if the bers are in there long yo store much nectar,
    getting a heavy box down may require a rope over a limb and or a friend to accomplish safely.

    Checked eeekly, that's not much of an isdue, though
    Feeling ok today Beregondo?

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenbears View Post
    I have bases that mount to trees via ratchet straps.
    Do you happen to have any pictures of these?
    There are no bad questions, only bad people.
    No ma'am that ain't my bee, all my bees is branded.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    Excellent article on swarm traps, with instructions and plans, in the March 2015 issue of "American Bee Journal" by Dr Leo Sharashkin, titled "A Swarm Trap on Every Tree". The swarm traps like those in the article worked for me. They are about 50 liters in volume.
    "Sometimes the best action, with bees, is no action at all."

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    I use 5 frame NUC. with LGO -- old comb ---I like deer stands they are about the right height and easy to climb and retrieve your bees --

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    Quote Originally Posted by pndwind View Post
    Do you happen to have any pictures of these?
    I will get some tomorrow. been a long busy day today.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

    Thanks for all the responses. Looks like the bigger traps win out. Probably still go with the five frame due to back issues and just ease of getting it "up there."

    Riverderwent, thanks for the insight into origin of 40 liters.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Question on Swarm Traps

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