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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Per literature I've seen in the Forum, a big bait box (greater than 40 L in volume) doesn't equate to getting big swarms to move in ("most swarms consist of 10-12K bees", I've read).

Here, I've noticed that huge swarms -- from my own hives -- haven't moved into my 40L bait boxes (basically, 10-frame deeps with empty frames); they end up leaving the premises after a day or 2 (and I've seen their scouts nosing in/out the bait boxes). Smaller swarms go into the 40 L boxes w/o hesitation.

Does anybody have experience otherwise? Why would a huge swarm move into a box that clearly won't be big enough for them in the long-haul? Or ... would they? As an experiment, would it make any sense to put 2 deeps (or a deep and medium) together as a bait box to see if a big swarm may take up in it? :scratch:

Thx for any info/anecdotes/observations ....

Mitch
 

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Hi Mitch, I've noticed in my limited experience 2 yrs, kinda like you that,... larger swarms move into larger boxes, and smaller swarms move into smaller boxes. I've used 5 frame nucs, and 10 frame med. For swarms. Seems to me the bees prefer a size suitable to their swarm size. So, I make a few of each avaliable in a given "hot" area. Works ok for me. Give this a try, and let me know if it works for you. I'm still learning allot , and any good info is great. Remember, small or large swarms are just swarms... catch all you can. Also, look into basic removals. Sometimes faster, and really nice if the just landed at someone's place, or business. They want em gone fast... rich
 

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>Why would a huge swarm move into a box that clearly won't be big enough for them in the long-haul?

They do and in this case leave the next day.


 

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> As an experiment, would it make any sense to put 2 deeps (or a deep and medium) together as a bait box to see if a big swarm may take up in it?

Yes. Swarms often move into stacks of stored boxes. In this case, ignoring numerous baited swarm traps ready to go out to other sites and moving into a stack of frames that had been thru a steam melter:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpEH61fSbWI&t=147s
 

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Mitch
Does anybody have experience otherwise? Why would a huge swarm move into a box that clearly won't be big enough for them in the long-haul? Or ... would they? As an experiment, would it make any sense to put 2 deeps (or a deep and medium) together as a bait box to see if a big swarm may take up in it?

Basic answer, Yes, if the swarm will not fit into the new "home" Then I would think it is disqualified. I have a couple deep+medium decoys out.
Had not thought of 2 deeps but why not. Be aware the reverse is also true if it is "too big" to defend or heat they may also pass.
 

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Seeley’s work suggests that 40 liters is the sweet spot. That isn’t to say that a swarm won’t move into a larger or smaller one. If you look at the curves from Seeley’s data the numbers caught peak right around 40 liters and taper off quickly above and below. I have no idea how massive the swarms are that you are talking about but many beekeepers keep bees mainly in a single deep (approximately 40l) and add supers during a flow. Those single deep boxes hold 30,000+ bees.
I have caught enormous swarms in double deep nuc boxes.
But, if you doubt Seeley you should run your own trial.
 

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I caught a large swarm a few days ago and put it into a 10 frame deep box. The next day they took off into the trees. I put a second deep box on, captured the swarm again and put them into the boxes again. They decided to stay. I am interpreting this as if the space they are move to is not big enough, they will leave to find a more suitable location.
 

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Seeley’s work suggests that 40 liters is the sweet spot. That isn’t to say that a swarm won’t move into a larger or smaller one. If you look at the curves from Seeley’s data the numbers caught peak right around 40 liters and taper off quickly above and below. I have no idea how massive the swarms are that you are talking about but many beekeepers keep bees mainly in a single deep (approximately 40l) and add supers during a flow. Those single deep boxes hold 30,000+ bees.
I have caught enormous swarms in double deep nuc boxes.
But, if you doubt Seeley you should run your own trial.
Seeleys work took place in a "Specific" area, So the results would be specific to the Area Seeley worked in. To transpose that IF every swarm in my area came from Single deeps then 1 could reasonably argue that a 6 or 7 frame swarm trap would be favorable to them all.. However I know there are some 15 pound swarms in my area, not sure if it is a a big tree or a silo or what, for "that" specific swarm Seeley's 40 liter trap will FAIL. So if you are looking for the "typical" for your area they do the typical. If you wish to catch a 30 frame swarm Trap accordingly. I have every confidence in Seelys test for HIS area. I never assume 1 test will apply the same every where. I also Know the bigger swarms will not settle in a 40 liter trap. They do not fit. I do not take a "test" to the be all end all. a test is a test. I do often have large traps out. If I ever catch one of the big ones I'll be sure to post. check out this YouTube 40liter would be a little undersized. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpXTK0E7Gco
 

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However I know there are some 15 pound swarms in my area, not sure if it is a a big tree or a silo or what, for "that" specific swarm Seeley's 40 liter trap will FAIL.
I would submit to you that Tom Seeley is arguably the world’s foremost swarm expert. Seeley’s work strongly suggests that the scout bees choose a nest site by instinct driven parameters. I am confident that they do not do a head count to see how many bees are in their swarm and then transpose those into the choice of cavity dimensions. In spite of our desire to believe otherwise….bees do not think like people.
Seeley’s investigations of cavity choice was conducted in the mid 1970s. Before there were varroa. Much of the trials were conducted in a remote forest. These were honest to goodness feral swarms. If ever a fifteen pound swarm existed, Seeley surely saw it.
By all means…build your bait hives to whatever volume you choose.
I was simply trying to insert some actual science into the dialog. My bad.
 

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I would submit to you that Tom Seeley is arguably the world’s foremost swarm expert. Seeley’s work strongly suggests that the scout bees choose a nest site by instinct driven parameters. I am confident that they do not do a head count to see how many bees are in their swarm and then transpose those into the choice of cavity dimensions. In spite of our desire to believe otherwise….bees do not think like people.
Seeley’s investigations of cavity choice was conducted in the mid 1970s. Before there were varroa. Much of the trials were conducted in a remote forest. These were honest to goodness feral swarms. If ever a fifteen pound swarm existed, Seeley surely saw it.
By all means…build your bait hives to whatever volume you choose.
I was simply trying to insert some actual science into the dialog. My bad.
thank you for the science, I have read most of Seeleys work. I am not persecuting you :) Science is exactually that. it is a test, from the 70'S as you pointed out, done in the forest. not old growth as Seeley pointed out. I would tend to disagree the bees do know what is needed for size, they dance on the outside of the swarm and dance on the inside of the location. Agree they do not think like people. I agree with Seeleys bell curve. BUT and here is the but some swarms did pick the larger Sizes so tada we can both be correct. Thanks Dan for caring enough to engage. I want the 1 in 50 biggie size swarm and I think it takes "non-standard" approach, not there yet but if i learn anything i'll let the folks here know. 1 thing I am somewhat sure of is the swarm needs to fit into the decoy hive, else they would not pick the place initially or leave when the complainers in the swarm get cold the first night, hanging on the outside.
 

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I would submit to you that Tom Seeley is arguably the world’s foremost swarm expert. Seeley’s work strongly suggests that the scout bees choose a nest site by instinct driven parameters. I am confident that they do not do a head count to see how many bees are in their swarm and then transpose those into the choice of cavity dimensions. In spite of our desire to believe otherwise….bees do not think like people.
Seeley’s investigations of cavity choice was conducted in the mid 1970s. Before there were varroa. Much of the trials were conducted in a remote forest. These were honest to goodness feral swarms. If ever a fifteen pound swarm existed, Seeley surely saw it.
By all means…build your bait hives to whatever volume you choose.
I was simply trying to insert some actual science into the dialog. My bad.
thank you for the science, I have read most of Seeleys work. I am not persecuting you :) Science is exactually that. it is a test, from the 70'S as you pointed out, done in the forest. not old growth as Seeley pointed out. I would tend to disagree the bees do know what is needed for size, they dance on the outside of the swarm and dance on the inside of the location. Agree they do not think like people. I agree with Seeleys bell curve. BUT and here is the but some swarms did pick the larger Sizes so tada we can both be correct. Thanks Dan for caring enough to engage. I want the 1 in 50 biggie size swarm and I think it takes "non-standard" approach, not there yet but if i learn anything i'll let the folks here know. 1 thing I am somewhat sure of is the swarm needs to fit into the decoy hive, else they would not pick the place initially or leave when the complainers in the swarm get cold the first night, hanging on the outside.
 

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If I recall correctly, Dr. Seeley’s study of cavity sizes and, particularly, his later comparison of swarm trap sizes (for the purpose of setting up the study of colony level decision making — or honey bee “democracy”) were not very granular. Dr. Seeley would be the best person to speak to that. Having done scores of cutouts (from walls, trees, boats, cable spools, water meter boxes, soffits, planters, wood duck boxes, and what not), forty liters is consistent with the typical cavities that I see. I have certainly seen hives occupying a small part of a large cavity, such as an attic, or exposed and hanging on a limb for months for that matter. Having said all that, the interior of my swarm traps run around 11½” (tall) x 7 frames (“thick” — front to back) x 19⅛” wide. They work well, typically averaging more than one swarm per box over a season, and they are ample and work well for our larger prime swarms. On the other hand, big bait, big fish.
 

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Tom Seeley's principle 'bait box' experiment was performed on an isolated island, devoid of all trees and habitation - except for a single lobster fisherman's cottage.

His experiment was of the single-variable, tabula-rasa type. Single variable experiments in biology are invariably misleading, especially where results are interpreted by non-academics as displaying some kind of 'proof' (which of course they never do).

Seeley appears to have made a fundamental mistake by employing a tabula-rasa approach, for it seems not to have occurred to him that the 40 litre box size which was preferred over other sizes, is the same size as the box which the bees would have been raised in, transported to the island in, and then released from. Bees have memory, and that the results may have been influenced by the memories of previous habitation is entirely consistent with the experimental results.

Because Seeley was obliged by academic convention to restrict his paper to the variable under examination, he was unable to describe the true narrative of the events which occurred during the experiment: that the first bees which swarmed chose neither of the bait boxes on offer, but selected instead the chimney of the only cottage present on the island. It was only after access to that chimney was denied to the bees, that the experiment could continue. Seeley describes this somewhat colourful event in one of his books.

All-in-all, Seeley's work is certainly of value - principally because there's nothing much else in 'the literature' to compare it with - but to rely upon such an experiment for some kind of definitive swarm box size is, in my view, unwise.
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Mil gracias, guys, for all the input and ideas. There're always angles I'd not considered. I have several 40 L bait boxes out already, so I think I'll put out a double deep (in my favorite swarm tree) and see what transpires. Ya never know ..... Again, much obliged.

Mitch
 

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Tom Seeley's principle 'bait box' experiment was performed on an isolated island, devoid of all trees and habitation - except for a single lobster fisherman's cottage.

His experiment was of the single-variable, tabula-rasa type. Single variable experiments in biology are invariably misleading, especially where results are interpreted by non-academics as displaying some kind of 'proof' (which of course they never do).

Seeley appears to have made a fundamental mistake by employing a tabula-rasa approach, for it seems not to have occurred to him that the 40 litre box size which was preferred over other sizes, is the same size as the box which the bees would have been raised in, transported to the island in, and then released from. Bees have memory, and that the results may have been influenced by the memories of previous habitation is entirely consistent with the experimental results.

Because Seeley was obliged by academic convention to restrict his paper to the variable under examination, he was unable to describe the true narrative of the events which occurred during the experiment: that the first bees which swarmed chose neither of the bait boxes on offer, but selected instead the chimney of the only cottage present on the island. It was only after access to that chimney was denied to the bees, that the experiment could continue. Seeley describes this somewhat colourful event in one of his books.

All-in-all, Seeley's work is certainly of value - principally because there's nothing much else in 'the literature' to compare it with - but to rely upon such an experiment for some kind of definitive swarm box size is, in my view, unwise.
LJ
Said better than I could + 1 As well he "constructed" his swarms and as I recall they were small ish. Be interesting to do the same experiment with 15 pound swarms, from a 3 deep hive to see if the "home" feeling would be similar.
 

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This is an interesting discussion, but I do have one question: Why not just keep your hives from swarming (going off the OP's post about huge swarms issued from their hives)? I mean it's not too hard, of course, you may miss the occasional swarm but for the most part, it's doable.
 

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Tom Seeley's principle 'bait box' experiment was performed on an isolated island, devoid of all trees and habitation - except for a single lobster fisherman's cottage.
As well he "constructed" his swarms and as I recall they were small ish.
Not so guys!
Although a number of his experiments were conducted on Appledore Island, those used to determine cavity preferences were not. He initially used forest tree cutouts…real, honest to goodness feral swarms…. to determine what cavity parameters were found commonly in nature. He and his brother also cut down trees with cavities that were unoccupied to see what sort of cavities they avoided. He then built a couple of hundred boxes of different sizes, entrance sizes, shapes and positions as well as other variables. He hung them at varying heights and over a couple of seasons trapped well over a hundred swarms keeping track of those parameters that they typically chose and which they avoided.
The Appledore Island experiments simply allowed him to control additional variables as well as monitor scouting activity and observe the site choosing process.
I have a great respect for Seeley’s work but like many other things nothing is perfect. Having said that, I am much more confident in his results than internet anecdotal accounts.
Let me add that I have had small swarms move into stacks of boxes in my barn and enormous swarms move into single deep five frame nucs. There are no absolutes.
I would encourage anyone who is building bait boxes to experiment themselves. If they follow the thinking on this thread they may end up building boxes that are less desirable to swarms. And while catching an occasional big swarm, they may be missing dozens of typical sized swarms.
Good luck
 

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This is an interesting discussion, but I do have one question: Why not just keep your hives from swarming (going off the OP's post about huge swarms issued from their hives)? I mean it's not too hard, of course, you may miss the occasional swarm but for the most part, it's doable.
I am using Dead out frames in Decoys in a fairly "wild" area, to catch some local stock. If there are bees in the area, in someones hives, I move over, a mile or 2. I generally do not prefer some ones escaped swarm from a managed hive. If I get one I generally requeen. I am attempting to catch local stock, in specific the "rumored" large swarms seen in this area. The 2 guys I have spoke with in 2016 caught swarm, that would "not fit in a washtub" Not really worried about my stock escaping. Yes I agree it is not too hard to stop swarming in managed hives. So for me it is a challenge to get one of these large swarms captured.
 
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