Number of frames in a trap?
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  1. #1
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    Jan 2015
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    Default Number of frames in a trap?

    I finished up my first batch of swarm traps for this year. I think the consensus was that the boxes I used that year were too small. They were 5 frame nuc boxes. This year I used a calculator and built several 8 frame deep boxes with extra space that are ~40L and some 5 frame deeps that are ~35L.

    As I was putting frames in to test fit everything I wondered, "Do I have to tie up all these frames to fill the boxes or could I use less?" For example, could I put 3 frames into a 5-deep and 5 frames into an 8-deep? I've now spread that same 8 frames over 2 boxes instead of having them all in one.

    I cannot see any of the traps going more than a few days, a week at longest, until they are checked. All of the locations are very accessible on my normal day-to-day travels.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    Steve.....
    I have never caught a swarm and last year did as you want to do. I put 5-8 frames in a ten frame box. I did just read on a differrent thread that you want to fill the highest box full of frames cause the bees will start on the highest open spot. What this means to me is. If I stack 3 5 frame mediums I need 5 frames in the top box. If I stack two mediums, I need ten frames in the top box. If I use a single deap I need ten frames. I believe this cause I just saw a pic. on the swarm comander thread that showed a caught swarm in a box with about 5 frames in the center and the bees built comb on the top.
    Hope this helps.
    gww

  4. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    Steve good luck with the traps. I have caught some swarms over the years using empty nuc boxes with a piece of old brood comb laying on the bottom and lemon grass oil. Once used a copier paper box suspended from a tree with an old piece of brood comb about the size of your hand laying in the bottom of the box and lemon grass oil. Of course these traps were in the yard and I knew the day the swarm moved in.

    My plan for this year is to put one old drawn brood frame in the traps and on either side of it put a couple of empty frames with starter strips of wax in them. I check them every few days or at least a couple times per week. I have a handful of 10 and 8 deep and a couple of 10 frame mediums that are getting in bad shape I plan to try out as traps.

    I will be following this thread with great interest to see what other members suggest.

    Again good luck catching those free bees!!!

    Tim

  5. #4
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    Jul 2011
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    A swarm will start drawing comb as soon as they are in the box, so if you don't have a full set of frames at the top, they will start comb ON BOTTOM OF THE TOP. Period. They will completely ignore frames, old comb, ratty comb, whatever, if there is a flat surface at the top of the container. This is the normal way bees operate, you have to give them no option to starting on the very top surface.

    I would also suggest you do not put empty frames in there either, as they will often make "warm way" comb -- perpendicular to the entrance -- across the frames. Starter strips may help, but one should not risk them making a mess as it will be very difficult to straighten them out, so to speak. I have a friend who three years after he hived a large swarm in a box of foundationless frames STILL had comb bridging frames. Hive is doing fine, but the crooked comb is still a problem. I've seen, it, it's a real mess.

    So, unless you are absolutely positive you can get that swarm into a proper hive within a few hours of them moving in, I strongly suggest you use a full set of frames in a standard sized hive body of some sort. Need not be normal depth, and I suspect two five frame nucs stacked with frames in the top box only would work just fine, but at the top you need wall to wall frames. Otherwise you will be cutting out comb and eggs in a couple days to get the comb into frames. This is wasteful and unnecessary work. I would use full sheets of foundation too, myself. No need to encourage wonky comb.

    Peter

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    Psfred
    I would also suggest you do not put empty frames in there either, as they will often make "warm way" comb -- perpendicular to the entrance -- across the frames.
    Dang, wish I would have knew this. I only have empty frames but I could have put the entrance to the side insted of how I did it.
    Too late now.
    Still good to know. If I make more. I have been making deeps that I will cut down and use as medium hive bodies later. The ones already made are drilled in the front.
    Thanks for the tip.
    gww

  7. #6
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    Oct 2014
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    Sarasota, FL
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    What about 2 or 3 dark brood combs and then the rest of the ten frame box frames with plastic foundation?

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    Yes thanks for the information, sounds like I will have to rethink that idea of the starter strips. I certainly can attest to them building on the roof or top of the box. Hived a swarm a couple years ago and just put 7 frames in an 8 frame box, when I pulled lid a few days later they had built almost a full frame attached to the inner cover in the empty frame slot, I ended up trying to put it in a frame but the wax was so soft I threw it out and gave them a drawn frame as I should have done in the beginning.

    I'm wondering if you could put all frames in and alternate starter strips between old drawn comb, I have done this before just to test foundationless and had good results but as you pointed out they can draw real weird without guides.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    The answers to your questions depend on:


    • how many frames you have to dedicate to your traps.
    • How often you plan on checking your traps.
    • How quickly you plan on moving a caught swarm.


    I personally use only one old brood comb, positioned near the middle of the trap, and fill the rest with foundationless frames. The foundationless frames are Mann Lake Wedge top with the wedge turned on its side for a starter strip. No need to wax the starter strips. If using foundationless, the most important step of hanging the trap is to level it side to side in order to prevent cross-comb. In all the swarms I've caught, I have not had the issue psfred describes, but I guess it could happen. As long as you have one good old brood comb in there, they will build parallel to it.

    Here is a link to an old post discussing some of this.

    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...84#post1215684

    If you don't have enough frames - add what you can, but do something to keep the ones you add from sliding around. The queen will go right for the old brood frame and start laying, the colony will start building comb on the adjacent frames. A swarm will build out wax really fast, so if you only use a few frames, they will start building off the trap lid outside the frames you install. This is not really a big deal - you just need to be prepared to do a mini cut-out when you move the captured swarm. Just trim the comb that built from the roof to fit into empty frames and use rubber bands to hold it in place. I trim them with the idea of saving as much brood as possible. It is pretty quick work, nothing to be overly concerned about.

    If you do fill with foundationless frames and do your best to level the trap - wind and weather can shift things ever so slightly and you get comb that is slightly off (from the starter strip and down to one edge or the other of the bottom bar. Again, no big deal - just cut the bottom free when transferring to the apiary location and adjust to hang straight - they will quickly reattach.

    I use all 8 frame mediums, and have a 4 inch or so space under the bottom of the frames. Many of my traps are 4 hour drive away and by the time I get there, they extend off the bottom of the medium frames to the floor of the trap. I just cut that part off and rubber band into new frames.

    I've been catching between 6 and 10 swarms the past 3 years at this remote location and have had to do several cut-outs from the traps, or piece things together after black bear knocked a couple down (did not loose the bees). Things that don't go perfectly are easily fixed. Free bees are free bees!

    PAHunter62

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    I have no old comb and no foundation. My guides on the frame are just the top bar cut at 45 degree angles and then built into the frame with the point of the wedge facing down. I had 12 traps and no bites last year and this year I will have more. I am going to fill the top box of whatever hive configuration I am using with frames and keep my fingers crossed. Most of my traps will also be my hive bodies when all is said and done. With my trapping ability, I have not needed hive bodies yet.
    I built a bunch more frames lately due to reading the trap needs to be full cause I was not filling last year.
    Cheers
    gww

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve in PA View Post
    As I was putting frames in to test fit everything I wondered, "Do I have to tie up all these frames to fill the boxes or could I use less?" For example, could I put 3 frames into a 5-deep and 5 frames into an 8-deep? I've now spread that same 8 frames over 2 boxes instead of having them all in one.

    I cannot see any of the traps going more than a few days, a week at longest, until they are checked. All of the locations are very accessible on my normal day-to-day travels.
    Swarms build comb quickly. Swarm season is a busy time for me. Late in the swarm season I sometimes like to leave swarms in the trap longer so that an unmated queen can mate. Having to do a cutout from the trap is easily avoided by putting as many foundationless frames as will fit pushed up against the frame with drawn comb.
    David. The way you want to keep bees is most likely at least as good as any way that I could suggest. Probably better.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    PAHunter62, thanks again for all the info you've shared over the past year. My newest boxes are based on the pics you sent of your boxes with the 4" boards attached to the bottom. I probably added a bit more than 4" when I constructed them just trying to get to the 40L mark...and use up the plywood I had laying around from some other projects.

    I am getting some brood comb this year from a friend's dead hives. I was going to go foundationless and put some broodcomb on the middle frame. I may rethink the foundationless part and not filling the boxes after reading PSFred's response.

    I have at least another month to make up my mind. At least this year I will have bees since I've committed to buying a local nuc for April delivery. Anything caught will be a bonus. I have 2 locations that had lots of activity last year but the bees never committed after having scouts all over them for a few days. I am hoping they like what I offer this year.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    I do more or less exactly what PAHunter62 does, though I put the single old frame at one side of the box. No idea if this makes a difference but Seeley describes how the scouts 'size' the potential space in Honeybee democracy and leaving the full frame at the edge gives the maximum uninterrupted volume ... and, if you're short of old brood frames, a drop or two of lemongrass oil helps. I've not had cross comb in any bait hives that are properly levelled.
    The Apiarist - beekeeping in Fife, Scotland

  14. #13
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    I've done both - placing the brood frame at one side of the box as fatshark describes, and also near the center. I've never really compared the two approaches. I guess I lean towards a center position so there is more chance of straight comb in both directions from the reference frame. New wax has always started on the adjacent frames and expands outward. My success rates have not really been different, so I try and stack the deck in my favor for straight comb given I have 7 foundationless frames in each trap. As fatshark also points out, leveling is the key.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    I may have missed this , but would one old frame of brood comb in the middle and the rest all frames of new wax foundation work or would they perceive it as not enough room inside .I'm using a medium super with a extension on the bottom for a entrance and to add more cubic inch's , if I get a swarm I can just set the medium on a bottom board in my beeyard and be done .

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    Stacking two nucs gives the required volume (per Seeley) and one can leave the frames out of the lower box. This arrangement uses only 4 or 5 frames. One frame of old brood comb in the center (for scent) and empty or foundation/honey comb around the old brood. The old brood will quickly get chewed up by wax moth, but honey comb is highly resistant.

    If you leave frames out you get a mess. The swarm will build off the top cover -- and you have a cut out situation in just days. If by miracle chance, they start to occupy the brood comb, as soon as you move the box the frame bars slide off the rabbet and go catawampus in the box.

    Fill the box with frames. Not all need to be drawn. You can use foundationless modified frames for some positions.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    The old brood will quickly get chewed up by wax moth, but honey comb is highly resistant.
    Get some BT and mist the old brood frame for your traps with it - Wax moth will not be an issue ...

    Here is one source:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ilpage_o01_s00

    Find some other local beekeepers to split the cost with - this stuff goes a long way ...

    Happy trapping ...

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    Is there any situation where its a bad idea to put a swarm trap to close to your beeyard . I want to position it pretty close maybe 50 ft. away , there is a tree that I have had more than one swarm in and it would be nice to catch them instead of hoping I see them before they leave the tree for parts unknown .

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    I usually have at least two traps on my 1 acre property. I manage my hives to try and prevent swarming, but sometimes life gets in the way and it becomes hard to stop them. Having a trap gives you a chance to catch them without any extra effort.

    A couple years ago, I returned home from a morning round of golf to see this ...

    https://youtu.be/io0siSfKC88

    Was cool to be there to see the march into the trap.

    At another suburban location, that same year, one of my hives swarmed and converged here - This trap was about 30 yards from the mother hive. Was an easy transfer - just lifted the trap off the mounting bracket and bumped them into a hive body, then added frames in.

    Swarm2013.jpg

    In both of these cases, I did not have to deal with neighbors, that is always a good thing.

    PAHunter62
    Last edited by PAHunter62; 01-31-2016 at 03:20 PM.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    I build a box that holds 6 frames. The 4 corners have vertical 3/4 inch square members, which provide a mass to screw down the top. The width of the box is 12 inches. In the past 2 years I have caught 3 swarms.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Number of frames in a trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post
    A swarm will start drawing comb as soon as they are in the box, so if you don't have a full set of frames at the top, they will start comb ON BOTTOM OF THE TOP. Period. They will completely ignore frames, old comb, ratty comb, whatever, if there is a flat surface at the top of the container. This is the normal way bees operate, you have to give them no option to starting on the very top surface.
    Peter... I would have to very respectifully disagree. That is not the normal in Kentucky.

    I have out about 30 catcher boxes each year. I place 2 old drawn brood combs against one side of an old 10 frame deep, then place 2 frames of foundation toward the center. The rest is open space. I rarely, rarely, ever have a swarm to move beyond the 4 frames, if you find them within 1 week. The swarm normally move onto the two drawn combs, then start drawing on the two frames of foundation.

    I have all my catcher boxes where I can drive by and see if a swarm has moved in. (I check them once each week during peak swarm season.) If so, I stop and fill with foundation.( I do this so I can get drawn comb to sell with thenucs that i sell. Swarms are drawing machines). I leave the box in place for a week to 10 days, then move to a bee yard, place another box in its place. A good spot will catch multiple swarms during swarm season.

    Just my experience, yours may be different, but, I never, ever, fill the catcher boxes, only 4 frames per box, and you "must" put the drawn comb starting on one outside wall. Do not put in the center. If you do, they will go to either side of the frames and start their own comb on your top (migratory), or inner cover.

    cchoganjr

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