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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have read about building a Bee Trap, but I have a wood Shop and built 4 new hives with frames for the challenge. So why would you not use one or two hives for a trap to catch swarms. You could bait them with frames and propolis, lemon balm etc. I had planned to build some traps out of plywood but then I wonder if anyone else has done this with hives?
 

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hives work great for traps, that's how i do it.

i use two five frame deep langstroths one stacked on top of the other.

in the top box i have one frame of brood comb (protected against wax moths with bt aizawai) placed in the middle position, flanked by a foundationless frame on both sides, and those are flanked with a frame of plastic foundation occupying the two outside positions.

the bottom box is left empty until a swarm moves in.

i wedge the frames in the upper box hard against one side with crumpled newspaper because i plan to move the caught swarm a few days after they move in to a more permanent spot, and this keeps the frames from banging and clanging during the move.

for the lure i use a q-tip with lemongrass oil on one end and queen tincture (dispatched queens soaking in isopropyl alcohol) on the other end.

standing in the back of my pick up truck i use ratchet straps to lash the trap to a tree like this:

040416 caught swarm.jpg

a ten frame deep would work too, but to achieve a similar interior you would need one frame of comb, seven foundationless frames, and two frames of foundation.
 

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Hives and used frames are the best for traps.They already have bee smells in them.Catch a swarm then take it down and put another one in it place.No cutting out combs or hassles.
 

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Exactly as the previous posts but with a few variations. I screw pieces of plywood to the top/bottom of old deep boxes and bore a hole in the box for an entrance or add a 3/8-1/2 inch shim to the bottom plywood leaving a space for an entrance. Rather than using the plastic foundation on the outside positions I run a deck screws on the edge of the foundationless frames to hold everything in place and prevent shifting.
A few other considerations, leave a bait hive with any open space too long and you may get to practice your comb rubber banding/stringing skills. If you bore a hole in the box consider ensuring the frames block direct access or use a little hardware cloth to discourage birds; also mark the tops and their orientation so you can use the same top/box configuration with the same screw holes. No old/used boxes, use a heat gun or hairdryer to melt a little propolis and wax on the inside.

Search BS using bait hive or swarm box to see some of the different mounting techniques (hanging, platforms, French cleats, etc). Because I place a few bait where I don't want to screw anything into the trees, I lag screw a modified 2x4 to the box and shim/ratchet strap to level/secure it against the tree. Along with the hole at the top of the 2x4 there is a dado toward the bottom to pass the ratchet strap.


Tons of options and some very unique techniques for bait hives and their use /installation.

swarm box .jpg
 

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the other consideration when placing foundationless frames is that the hive (trap) needs to be perfectly level from left to right. this is so the comb gets drawn straight down to the bottom bars.

the wooden tree stand shown in the photo makes that easy to do.
 

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So why would you not use one or two hives for a trap to catch swarms.?
As discussed above, regular hive boxes make great swarm traps.

If you are setting up multiple swarm traps I think the main reason for not using regular hive boxes is that you might not want to have all of your extra equipment hanging in trees and unavailable to use in the beeyard.

Things can change rapidly in the spring time and you might find that all of your "extra" equipment ends up in service seemingly overnight. Typically the "main" swarm window is not very long, maybe a week or two. That's why many beekeepers who plan on picking up spring swarms build traps out of plywood for that purpose only. They are inexpensive and simple to build, and once the swarm period has passed are packed up until the next year. This way there is no interference or shortage with the regular extra boxes in managing overwintered colonies. Splits, expansion, supers, etc.

Not suggesting you should build extra swarm traps, just thoughts on why so many beekeepers do build them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
All well and good, however my idea was that if you use a new hive and bait it then catch a swarm that all you have to do is move it to the field and be done. Where as I believe with a plywood trap you must transfer the new swarm to a new hive. Is that not the way it works? As you can probably see I am new at this.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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It is also a matter of economy. A good swarm trap can be built for around $8 per trap, not counting frames. A hive body, bottom board, and tele top will cost you much more, even if you build them yourself. Since successfull swarm catching is partially a numbers game, the more appropriately placed traps, the better. Using an empty hive from a dead out doesn't cost anything extra so that is real easy. I would not buy (or make) hives solely for the purpose of a swarm trap. I can barely keep up with making hives that I need in the apiary as it is. Also consider that a new hive is not as likely to be successful as an old one.
 

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If you are going to build a new box then why not just build a hive body that you can use later if you need to.That is the reason I use an older hive.If I need it and it hasnt yet caught a swarm I can take it down and use it.I tried new boxes years ago and bees kept coming and going into used hives that were just stored or empty sitting around at locations.Used hives have bees smells that they love.Watch your bees and look at how many that fly around looking at your old used boxes.
 

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All well and good, however my idea was that if you use a new hive and bait it then catch a swarm that all you have to do is move it to the field and be done.
That's exactly right. It's a convenient and seamless transfer right to your bee yard. If you are only anticipating adding an extra hive or two with captured swarms that's probably the best way to go.

If you have more aggressive ambitions on expansion then you will need to keep several traps out to maximize your captured swarm count. Separate swarm traps would make more sense in that case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK then: I just started last spring with one hive plus other factors. Son has a saw mill, I have a wood shop etc. However I like the idea of used hives and it so happens a good friend of mine has several, he is retired. We trade a lot so I shall contact him.
So I put used frames in the used hive and if I catch a swarm, transfer the old frames to a new hive or leave them and utilize the old hive as well?
Keep in mind also this is just a fascinating hobby project, and beware of retirement.
 

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You can do either one you want.I have plenty of old boxes and frames.Oh and your frames do put in starter strips or old comb of a mix but have something to cause them to use the frames.I have had empty stuff sitting out and they went in to the empty frames and built comb across them.Now that was a mess!!!
 

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I try to minimize the use of "specialty" equipment because it frequently lacks commonality/interchangeability with the "everyday" equipment and requires storage. That's why I prefer slightly modifying existing equipment, it also requires a minimal investment for a top, bottom (less if you use migratory covers) and mount. As already mentioned, leaving a couple of hives sitting empty frequently attracts swarms and makes a convenient "grab and go" hive if you need to house a "free hanging" swarm (ratchet straps are your friend).

One of my concerns of leaving an empty hive in the truck bed was to come out to a parking lot and find a swarm in the process of moving in; never happened but figured it had a prime opportunity to tick off some people and open a nitch market for valet parking.
 

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I made a few of the plywood swarm traps up in my workshop last winter and put 8 out in the spring. I caught 4 swarms in 2018 with them. I also had one 10 F deep hive out as a swarm trap and man was that thing heavy when getting it down from a tree esp when full of bees. I have done (and still do ) competitive amateur bodybuilding for 24 years so lifting weights is not something new to me but that 10F deep hive was heavy and awkward to bring down from the tree!

The plywood swarm traps are relatively light and they have standard deep frames in them. Transfer to a regular hive takes literally about 1-2 minutes, then you go back and rehang the swarm trap in the same location again.
Also as mentioned means all of your regular equipment is ready to be used should you need it in the main apiary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
After all this good advice I am thinking the plywood trap may be the way to go and I will get some old frames from a friend. The other thing I read is that once you catch a swarm you don't move it right away and when you do move it you have to take it a mile away. So what.s up with that.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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The basic idea is to let the bees begin to raise brood. That will anchor them to the box so they don't take off when you start disrupting them. The bees need to be taken at least 3 miles away so they are forced to reorient to the new location, otherwise they will go back to wherever the swarm trap was. After a few weeks, you can move it again as the bees that remember where home used to be have died off. On of the easiest things to do is place the swarm trap where you want the hive to be, sometimes it works. I keep a swarm trap next to my hives pretty much year round. This year they hit the trap in a tree about 40' away.
 

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I've moved swarms from as little as 100 feet with minimal impact when steps for reorientation are taken. However, some of the foragers never seem to receive the "we've moved" memo and return to the old location; taking steps to return the "lost" foragers to the colony is optional. I tend to use robber screens that I can "lock down" during transport to the yard and open once the hive is in the new location but I leave the robber screen in place to help with reorientation.

As JW mentioned, best that they start to raise brood but I don't like to leave them much past 5 days after I'm confident they've moved in. Swarms are wax building machine, the pic is what a nice size swarm can do in approx. 10 days (filled 4 foundationless frames and 5 partials off the cover).

Swarm w comb top 1 20170507_104503.jpg
 

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I thought you learned a long time ago to always fill the box with frames.:D I found out the hard way that leaving a frame out is a good way for the inner cover to get real heavy. My traps are built off the design found on the horizontal hive website and hold six deep frames. One of old drawn comb, five that are foundationless.
20180704_150357.jpg
 

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friend of mine a new beek his bees swarmed this year. We thankfully easily shook them into a plywood 5 frame swarm trap that i had empty. In 4 days all 5 foundations were drawn and the dead space 4 inches in the bottom of the box was filled with new wax comb.
Unbelievable how fast swarms draw comb!
 
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