Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?
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  1. #1
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    Apr 2019
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    Default Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    Checked the prices of swarm traps and thought to myself: That's way, wayyy too expensive.

    1. Does anyone here have a recommendation for the dimensions of swarm traps?

    I will put some old used comb in each of them.

    2. Finally - how effective is lemongrass essential oils? Do I just buy lemongrass essential oil on amazon and put it on some paper towels or dowse it on the old comb?

    Thank you.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Salt Lake City, UT
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    This is a free download on swarm bait hive design by Dr. Tom Seeley from Cornell University. https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/2653


    Here is a photo of my swarm bait hives and the plans.

    • The plans use 1/2 plywood to keep them lightweight.
    • The plan is sized for six frames. I usually put them out with one frame of old comb and three empty frames with a starter strip. If you're a newbee without old comb then use one frame of foundation. I'm reluctant to commit all the frames to something that might disappear. If it is necessary to leave a swarm in the bait hive for a while I can always add frames. I pin the frames tight to one side so they can't shift while I'm moving the bait hive.
    • The ends are 13/16" shorter than the sides to make a frame rest.
    • The piece labeled handle closes off the open frame rest (similar to how the dcoates nuc is constructed).
    • The top end rim and top side rim are optional, you can make the top a migratory style top. If you make the top a migratory style then change the top dimensions to 10 x 20-5/16. I now use a migratory style and I nail it in place.
    • The bottom board fits inside the the box, protecting the plys from exposure.
    • The entrance is a slot 3/8" x 4". The plan shows entrances in the end and side, but I only make one. You can drill a round hole but a hole needs to have two nails across it to keep birds out as shown in the Cornell University pdf.
    • I add two vent holes (not shown in plan), one in the bottom and one in the rear side near the top. The vent holes are 1-1/2" diameter and have #8 hardware cloth stapled over them inside the trap. I plug the holes with plumbers test caps link on the outside. When it is time to close up the trap for relocation I remove the plugs so the bees have ventilation.
    • The interior volume is 47 liters.
    • If you want to make it for five frames instead then decrease the 9" dimensions to 7.5" The interior volume will be 39 liters.


    Use lemon grass oil very sparingly. Dip a cotton swab half way. Put the cotton swab inside an unsealed plastic sandwich bag and lay the bag on the floor of the bait hive. Some propolis scrapings and comb is also helpful. The best bait is the smell of a beehive. Let the first swarm caught in a bait hive live in the bait hive for several days if you can. They'll condition the interior and give it that hive smell to make it more effective the next time.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by JConnolly; 02-25-2020 at 10:37 AM. Reason: Added pictures with dimensions and other info
    Zone 6B

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Verona, NJ, USA
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    8

    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    check out the "swarm trap lite" plan on www.horizontalhive.com that is the plan that has produced for me, very easy to build and there are plans on getting the most out of a 4x8 sheet of 1/2" ply
    many have had luck with lemongrass oil but I've only been lucky with Swarm Commander; the cost of a bottle is cheap relative to the price of packages and nucs

  5. #4
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    Feb 2019
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    Winston-Salem, NC
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    485

    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper 2nd yr 15 hives
    https://www.youtube.com/c/BackyardBeesNC

  6. #5

    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    A old deep box. Some old foundation frames. Lid and a bottom board. With a small entrance. About as cheep as you can get. It should be equipment that you already own.

  7. #6
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    Feb 2015
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    One more thing about baiting in addition to lemon grass oil. Don't pinch and discard old queens. Get yourself a small vial and put alcohol in it. Queens to be dispatched should be put in the bottle and shaken. Death will be almost instant. Leave her carcass in the alcohol and put all your old queens in the vial. When it gets too crowded take one out. The queen pheremones will dissolve into the alcohol over several weeks. Dip a swab in it and wipe it around the inside of your bait hive, then leave the swab with the bait hive.
    Zone 6B

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
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    Portland, OR
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by JConnolly View Post
    One more thing about baiting in addition to lemon grass oil. Don't pinch and discard old queens. Get yourself a small vial and put alcohol in it. Queens to be dispatched should be put in the bottle and shaken. Death will be almost instant. Leave her carcass in the alcohol and put all your old queens in the vial. When it gets too crowded take one out. The queen pheremones will dissolve into the alcohol over several weeks. Dip a swab in it and wipe it around the inside of your bait hive, then leave the swab with the bait hive.
    I have always heard about preserving your old queens in alcohol but never understood the reasons for it, so thank you. You mention a "small jar". Could you be a bit more specific on size? I ask because I assume it will make a difference in terms of how concentrated the dead queen's pheremones might be. Appreciate your post!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Central Florida
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    Default

    I had really good luck with the cardboard flower pot style traps last year. Out of around 20 swarms the flower pot ones performed about five times better than double stacked 5 frame boxes. I was only using lemon grass oil though, no used comb.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    Kevinf, I found a small glass vial at the Hobby Lobby for artists that mix their own paints. It's small, about 2 fl. oz (60ml). It will keep up to six queens. Any small jar around that size will work. Jason Chrisman at JC bees suggests you crush the queens in the bottle. I haven't tried that yet. My apiary is small enough that the queen carcases spend more than a year in the alcohol and I only bait a few swarm traps. It's easier to pull a whole queen out with tweezers when I need to make room for another. But if you need the lure soon then you might want to do what Jason recommends.
    Last edited by JConnolly; 02-25-2020 at 11:11 AM. Reason: Added video link
    Zone 6B

  11. #10
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    Apr 2016
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    yorkville, il
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    i build 5 frame nucs and use them for swarm traps. use a couple old frames with comb and the rest new frames with waxed plastic foundation.

  12. #11
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    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by My-smokepole View Post
    A old deep box. Some old foundation frames. Lid and a bottom board. With a small entrance. About as cheep as you can get. It should be equipment that you already own.
    Yep your old boxes.You have frames so you dont have to do cut outs.You have bee smell.You catch a swarm and take that box down and put another one in its place.Take that swarm and move it to your yard and place it where you want.I use to build a few swarm traps years ago but when I found it was just as effective using my supers and frames with no extra work I quit building traps.Supers for catching,moving and production and no extra oddball stuff laying around or extra expense building that stuff.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    The main reason I built bait boxes is they are lighter, cheap, and I haven't placed a valuable box with frames, bottom board, and cover out someplace where someone else is going to think it is a neat thing that they want for themselves. If a bait box gets stolen or vandalized my loss is minimal. For the larger scale beekeeper with a stock of gear large enough that some of it is always idle that might not matter as much as it does to the guys who need to keep it under a dozen while trying to be sustainable. Inside my own apiary is the only place I keep an empty set up in the spring. Other spots I put bait boxes are minimal commitment.
    Last edited by JConnolly; 02-27-2020 at 02:23 PM.
    Zone 6B

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    Old boxes that you are never going to use again are a lot cheaper than building.If you keep bees long enough you will have plenty of them.

  15. #14
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    Ojai, California
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    I use two rectangular kitty litter buckets with a top bar arrangement. The inside bucket is cut about 1/2 inch inside the bottom rim to hold the top bars. I cut a piece of plywood to go over the top bars so the outside bucket does not get glued shut, sort of like an inner cover.

    After the bees build combs on the top bars, I attach them to a regular frame with two drywall screws and they go inside a regular nuc' or standard beehive, depending on the size of the swarm.

    I attach a plywood floor with 1/4 inch diameter all-thread rod, connecting to a rectangular "doughnut" of plywood that fits over the outside bucket. Of course the buckets face upside down, and I make a small entrance. I do place a starter strip of foundation wax in the top bars to get them started.

    I hang them in trees at about 10 to 15 feet up, where they seem to catch the most bees.

    I can make these up in about 20 minutes, a dozen of them in about 2 hours. Round buckets also work, but they take a lot longer to build.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    Wood with a cardboard box stapled to it is nice. Its light, so its easier to put in a tree.
    David Smolinski USDA hardiness zone 6b

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    Think 5 frame nuc but
    19-20 inches deep.50177589_10213973993405663_4258829192063352832_o.jpg
    This is what I use I do attach a square door with screen
    that I can cover the entrance with. I am also a firm believer
    in swarm commander. Thirteen swarms last year. I put two
    cotton balls in a sandwich bag, spray each one once , then
    seal the bag and put a small hole in it. One spray in the entrance
    and leave it alone. By the way the bottom color with a little
    brown added to it.
    Some days it's not worth chewing through the restraints.

  18. #17
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    1x12” cedar. 11 1/2” deep. wide enough to hold 6 or 7 foundationless frames. (Approximately 40 liters volume.) 1” round entrance about ⅓ of the way up the front. Telescoping cover. Upright board offset from back (to allow room for the cover) to hang the trap. Lemongrass oil from amazon or health food store. 4 or 5 drops (no more!) every 2 or 3 weeks.
    David Matlock

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    >1. Does anyone here have a recommendation for the dimensions of swarm traps?

    Your normal size brood chamber, or nuc box. Any custom size is only usable for that purpose and a waste of your materials, time and effort.
    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.

  20. #19
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    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    I use a standard deep with frames and LGO. But then again I have a "known good" location, and I've caught 1-2 swarms here every year for the last 4 years, so I don't worry about "wasting" perfectly good hive equipment:

    Painted Peacock Manor, Palos Verdes, CA

  21. #20
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    Aug 2018
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    Bourg, Louisiana
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    Default Re: Home Made Swarm Traps: Any recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by fadder View Post
    Think 5 frame nuc … but
    19-20 inches deep.50177589_10213973993405663_4258829192063352832_o.jpg
    This is what I use I do attach a square door with screen
    that I can cover the entrance with. I am also a firm believer
    in swarm commander. Thirteen swarms last year. I put two
    cotton balls in a sandwich bag, spray each one once , then
    seal the bag and put a small hole in it. One spray in the entrance
    and leave it alone. By the way the bottom color with a little
    brown added to it.
    I use swarm traps designed exactly like this and also use the swarm commander. It's March 10th and i've caught 9 swarms since setting 4 traps in mid February. Looks like i have a 10th swarm moving in now.

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