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No luck in swarm traps

2202 Views 13 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  GregB
I’ve had traps out since late march. I have 4 on dads place that it 17 acres of timber, garden and a river runs along side it. There is a north trap that is a plastic 5 frame nuc box in the shade over looking the river and is facing north, an east trap that is in the old bee yard that is a 10 frame deep with a 1/2” x 2” entry hole 3ft off
The ground facing east. There is a west trap in the Timber overlooking the river that is facing north. There is a south trap that is a 5 frame plastic nuc in an old oak tree facing west overlooking a corn field. The north west and south traps are all head high.

All traps were baited with lemongrass oil freshened up approx every 3-4 days. The west trap I have seen scouts around. Today I was checking them and the west trap had three or four scouts buzzing around it (approx 2pm). I went back to check it at 4:30 and there were a dozen + bees flying around it and going in and out. I thought maybe there was a small swarm in it. I went to the house and got a jar of sugar water and a feeder. When I went back I noticed only 3-4 bees buzzing around it. I out the feeder in front of the hive on the board the deep sets on.

I don’t know if a swarm is scouting it and is moving in tomorrow. But for the life of me I can’t catch a swarm. A point of correction, sunday I bait all the traps with swarm commander.

What could I possibly be doing wrong?
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I wonder if too much lemon grass scent? I bait every few months. I have also had zero luck this year, but I know some of the neighbors who had bees before do not this year, so maybe not many swarms around. My own bees swarmed 4 times.
I am far from a expert on swarm trapping. I tried to bait with lemon grass oil every two weeks and have had good luck in my opinion.
Until I started using well-primed equipment I did not have much luck.

The thing is - bait-scent (e.g. LGO) only helps the scouts to find your trap.
Few years now I stopped putting the LGO inside my traps after thinking this over a bit.
What is the point of LGO inside the trap?
There is no point.

Instead, I simple put it the LGO attractant into a zip bag and attach it to trap's side (and even just next to the trap, but not on it).
This way you can actually do a lot of LGO and yet not to spoil the trap itself.

Finding the trap is only 1/2 of the project success.
The next important thing is - will they like your trap after finding it?
Are your traps likeable?
Lots of propolis deposits inside and black combs inside will make it likeable.
Recent usage of the trap by the bees makes it likable (what we call priming the trap).
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IMO the NUC boxes are too small.
you would need a 10 frame hive to swarm, IE 5 frames of bees leave.
MOST 10 frame hives are just started and not really going to swarm.

I have had the best luck with 10 frame deeps, with 3-4 frames of dark brood comb.

And concur with Greg if you have "used" gear it works better.

An idea for next year if you do not have any bees is order a package or NUC, place it in your "swarm trap" hive for a month, then move the bees into the next swarm trap box for a month etc.
Use the primed boxes to trap.

Almost need used stuff to trap , if you are just starting with bees, Get some with funds, then you will have some combs and primed boxes.

Find a larger bee keeper and ask if he has some old boxes he no longer will use, these old ones are the ones I have the best luck with.. He prefers new you prefer old. :)
Can do 2 supers with the deep frames some space in the bottom is not a bad thing.

IF I did NUC boxes as I have some primed, I would do a stack of 3, with 5 combs in the top one.

good luck
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Agree with GG. Nuc boxes are too small. This was proven in Seeley's research. Seeley determined that the optimum size of a swarm trap is 40 liters. I worked that out to be roughly the size of an 8-frame deep box, but you might should check that math.

I have no research to back this up, but I think that may be entirely too much lemongrass essential oil. I bait very lightly (2 drops) once a year at the beginning of the season.

Also, do you have foundationless frames in the boxes? Drawn comb?
All of my swarm traps have used dark brood comb in them from a hive of bees that died out the previous year.
All of my swarm traps have used dark brood comb in them from a hive of bees that died out the previous year.
This sounds good.
My bet is you overdid the LGO part.
Seriously, the LGO is only needed to lead the bees to your trap, not into it.
If keep adding the LGO inside the trap, that may become beyond tolerable.
The LGO over use is good advice. I’ll not use anymore.
I bait one time with LGO or SCL and caught over 30 this year. Occasionally I will 2nd dose an unsuccessful trap.

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30 swarms is incredible, I put out 6 bait hives this year and caught two swarms. Dr. Thomas Seeley's books have great information of swarm trap optimization.
We today supered this one we caught in a ten frame trap. Pretty over crowded. It will move to a nearby apiary swhere we had some losses.

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I caught nothing for several years until last year when I switched to stacked 5 frame nucs like I saw in one of Beemandan's videos. I also started using one black comb per trap. Those were caught in the exact same spot that I caught nothing the previous years. This year I caught 10 swarms with 4 traps using older 8 frame boxes that I had spare. When the swarm came home there was no need to unbox them.

I put a Qtip with LGO in a ziploc on top of the frames inside the box and 1 or 2 drops at the landing board on the front by the hole. I may refresh the front entrance with 1 drop every few weeks or I may not. Depends on my ambition and the weather. In one location I was bringing home the trap and resetting with a new box on Friday. Monday it would have scouts and the next Friday I would repeat the process. I'd have to check my notes but I believe it was 4 or 5 from the same spot.
I caught nothing for several years until last year when I switched to stacked 5 frame nucs ...... I'd have to check my notes but I believe it was 4 or 5 from the same spot.
Not so simple to point to your trap design change.
Without a source of the swarms, the best trap in the world will catch nothing.
And vice versa - when the swarms are many, they will compete for an empty computer box.

Somewhere, someone lost a lot of swarms this year for whatever reason - close to your traps.
Same for me, btw.
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