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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got our TBH built and out in the yard yesterday. Rather than buying a package of bees for this hive I was thinking of trying to bait a swarm. I dont' have any other hives in the area, but I know that I have beekeepers in the neighborhood. I also put myself on a swarm list with my local Beek Assoc. What are my chances of actually getting a swarm in this hive and should I just break down and get another package.
 

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Swarm trapping, especially with one bait box, is (naturally) a throw of the dice. I'd strongly encourage you to befriend some of those local beeks and see if one of them would make you a split with eggs and open brood (you'll need to offer a payment or a lot of beer, they'd need to cut comb out with you and tie it to your top bars). You'll also have a mentor which is invaluable. Or buy a package if you can find any this late. I remember my first year I was so excited if I had to wait for a swarm to happen by I'd have needed meds to sleep. Plus most swarm lists are a bit of a footrace; lots of people chase swarms and if the call went to voicemail for 10 minutes they're taken.

If you really want to start this year, something more sure than a swarm-hope is well-advised.
 

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Melt wax and propolis on the inside of the entrance. Get a chunk of black comb from another beekeeper, lace the comb and entrance with a few drops of lemon grass oil. I have caught six so far this year, but all on full boxes of black comb.
 

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Melt wax and propolis on the inside of the entrance. Get a chunk of black comb from another beekeeper, lace the comb and entrance with a few drops of lemon grass oil. I have caught six so far this year, but all on full boxes of black comb.
This sounds like really good advice. It's still rather chilly here during the nights but I plan on putting bait hives out towards the end of the month. I've got two simple 36" TBHs that are well propolized. I have the lemon grass oil, and I could dig up a few bars of old comb too. Michael Bush recommends putting a few drops of Bee Boost on a Q-Tip also. How far away from my two TBHs should I place them?
 

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I put as many baits as possible on the spots I want future hives. I caught two recently four feet in front of two existing hives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good advise. My concern was the fact that I, personally, don't have any other hives around; but there should be some in the area if I'm told correctly. I also live in a long established neighborhood with lots of old homes (pre 1900's) so I imagine that there could be feral colonies in the area living in people's homes. I'm just still torn on whether I should just bite the bullet and buy a package or just try to bait them.
 

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Yo Angry, you're another ghetto beek? Me too. Historic houses with a smattering of winos and crackheads seem to me to be the perfect bee habitat. We should form some sort of club. Anyway ...

The Cornell research concludes that a bait hives 40 liter box, with a 1 1/4" hole at the bottom, 20' up, in the shade, facing east is what a bee swarm prefers. Lure is good, but using old comb can be a problem because it can attract pests (and because I don't have any). http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/2653/2/Bait Hives for Honey Bees.pdf

You might also contact exterminators. I had several offer to fill a box I supplied with bees if they got a swarm call.
 

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As I imperfectly understand it, initial swarms usually occur within 100 feet of the original hive. If you live far from a hive your bait boxes will be hit and miss. If you get friendly with other beeks they may let you set up your lures around their hives, if they don't want to do a split. Your chances improve with the inverse square of the distance from a booming hive.
 

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Swarms will initially settle close, typically within 50'. But all they're doing is staging for moving on... checking that the queen is with them, that they turned off the stove, etc. :). I forget how far they'll travel, but I would guess at least a couple/few miles.
 
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