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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anybody have experience using a top bar swarm trap? I've read the various articles on swarm traps and a few on top bar traps...but was hoping to find somebody with experience using them. I finished up a design today, so I'm hoping to start building in the next month or so and wondered if somebody could save me some mistakes! My design is 1.4cubic ft inside volume.

Thanks in advance!
Clinton
 

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Does anybody have experience using a top bar swarm trap? I've read the various articles on swarm traps and a few on top bar traps...but was hoping to find somebody with experience using them. I finished up a design today, so I'm hoping to start building in the next month or so and wondered if somebody could save me some mistakes! My design is 1.4cubic ft inside volume.

Thanks in advance!
Clinton
I built four smallish ones (12 bars with Les Crowder design footprint). We put them out and baited them, but soon realized they'd fill much faster by taking them to swarm calls than by letting them sit. So we filled them with caught swarms. One had a bird's nest in it, one had a bunch of wood roaches in it. I will probably put some up next year, but it seems that for my operation it's more efficient to drive and get a swarm than to drive a whole bunch of miles every week or so to check for bees that moved in. Of course I'll probably set them up near the different places that we have hives incase one swarms on us and maybe get lucky and catch it.
 

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Most of my TBH are 44" long. I did build a half dozen half size ( 22" ) to start my splits in and I do use them in the spring for swarm traps, they work well, I put a bar with comb and a few drops of LGO in the rear of the box. I secure two top bar size pieces to the side of the box to form a lip and do the reverse to two that I secure to a small board which I attach to a tree with screws and a screw gun, I hang the box on the tree and level it with a small wedge between the bottom of the box and the tree, when I catch a swarm I can just stick a cork in the entrance and lift the box off. This year I caught four out of the six, but my good odds is mostly due to placing the traps in places where I have caught swarms before, timing is very important. I just leave the bees in the trap for a couple of months until they outgrow it and move them into a TBH or Lang.
 

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I built a KTBH with 14 bars and set it out at as a bait hive and bees moved right in the first week. I'm currently working on two ten bars to use as bait hives.I'm going to set them out in two different locations that have known bee trees. One location has two hives in two different trees and the other has a tree with one hive and another tree with two hives in the same tree. I'm hoping to capture a swarm or two come next spring.
Love Bruce
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well I'm encouraged to hear you guys have had such luck. I'll have to get going on building a few of these then... it's also a good thought that I'd be able to use them for splits! I only plan on keeping two hives, but if I ever needed to do a split, it would be a God-send to have an extra hive body on hand! I'm planning on making one with 15 bars, as that's how the dimensions added up to get the 1.4ft³ number I've seen. Do you guys think it's too big, too small or just right?
 

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Well I'm encouraged to hear you guys have had such luck. I'll have to get going on building a few of these then... it's also a good thought that I'd be able to use them for splits! I only plan on keeping two hives, but if I ever needed to do a split, it would be a God-send to have an extra hive body on hand! I'm planning on making one with 15 bars, as that's how the dimensions added up to get the 1.4ft³ number I've seen. Do you guys think it's too big, too small or just right?
Whatever you do, make it the same "footprint" as your fullsized hives.
 

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I have a lang and a recently put two TBH 10' and 20' from the lang. I'm hoping I get a swarm out of my lang next spring. I put the follower board at the ten bar spot, melted organic wax on the side walls, a few pieces of burr comb, LGO in a zip-lock bag, and my two fingers crossed next spring. Maybe even get a fall swarm?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Whatever you do, make it the same "footprint" as your fullsized hives.
Yea, I thought of that... good call though!

I know there is a feral hive a mile west of my house, so hopefully if they swarm I can provide a nice place for them to settle down. I can build hive bodies for a lot less than I can buy a package... especially if it's just going to abscond!
 

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Well I'm encouraged to hear you guys have had such luck. I'll have to get going on building a few of these then... it's also a good thought that I'd be able to use them for splits! I only plan on keeping two hives, but if I ever needed to do a split, it would be a God-send to have an extra hive body on hand! I'm planning on making one with 15 bars, as that's how the dimensions added up to get the 1.4ft³ number I've seen. Do you guys think it's too big, too small or just right?
Just right, my 22" box has fourteen bars.
 

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The swarm that made it's home in my 14 bar KTBH was kinda small so I'm thinking the size is fine. I used lemon grass oil on a qtips and tied a very small piece of comb to the top bar against the wall where the entrance is. I've since put a follower board after bar ten. They are growing in numbers now. But I think they had an unmated queen when they arrived so it took awhile for them to start expanding.
Love Bruce
 

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Roots,
I can't add to the discussion on TBH traps, but if you have a cloud storage (one drive, google drive, etc.) you can upload your .pdf, click "share" and "get link" and then can paste that link in a post. From there anyone who accesses the thread can click the link and get the file. (without having access to the rest of your cloud stored stuff).
 

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I have about 25 of them most are about 16 inches, but a few are as small as 12 inches (8 bars) and others are up to 30 inches. But the only swarms that have landed in my boxes have been in my backyard. One was an unused 24 inch nuc, the other was in a full size dead out. Both TBHs. This is my second year placing traps. I will do the same next year, but I don't get as excited about it based on my rotten luck. On the other hand those small boxes are good for picking up swarms and for making splits. I'm thankful for the swarms that I have caught though.
 

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There are a few things to remember when baiting swarms. Most just increase your chances of catching but some are important. I have baited 5 swarms in june alone doing this before stopping because my numbers were high enough.



1: Hive size. 20-40 litres seems to be the optimum size. Use follower boards to restrict size in your hive or make a bait hive of 8-15 bars. It depends on the bee race but 10 bars works well for me.

2: Use a solid bottom or if you have a mesh bottom cover it well. Any light getting in reduces the chances of the bees taking up residence. It will also cause housed swarms to abscond.

3: Rub around the inside of the hive with beeswax. If you do not have any beeswax buy some organic from the internet. This does NOT spread disease the same way as honey from bad sources does but you should use a reputable seller.

4: Your comb guides need to be bomb proof. Since they are entering an empty space with no existing comb to show them how and where to build you need really good comb guides. Use either foundation/wax starter strips of 1/2 - 1 inch (bigger will warp, smaller is ineffective) or triangle or semi-circular wooden bars rubbed with beeswax.

5: Old comb makes a massive difference. Either attach to a topbar or melt with olive oil/vegetable oil and add lemon grass oil when cooling. This slow the vapourising of the lemon grass oil (LGO). Rub this around the inside of the hive. If you like I can send you some of this. If you do this do NOT also do 6: as too much LGO can put them off.

6: Like the man said. Zip lock bag, cotton wool ball, lemon grass oil. Don't over do it. A few drops of LGO on the entrance too.

7: Entrance size should be 1 inch diameter (25mm). Any larger is difficult to defend and they don't seem to like smaller as much (though small cast swarms may). If you have mulitple entrances close them off/cork them up.

8: Entrance should face south or eash of south. Not essential but seems preferred.

9: When colonising a hive the bees seems to prefer basic entrances to periscope entrances.

10: The bees seem to prefer a hive at 6-8 feet off the ground. Obviously not possible with your actual hive but good if you are using a smaller bait hive.

11: Bait hives near sources of water, propolys, and nectar will obivously also do better.



Then leave them alone until you see bees heading in with pollen. If you like you can top up the the LGO on the entrance every week or two (just a drop). If you open it you could disturb scout who are overnighting and mess up your chances.



Being august you have mostly missed the swarming session but it is still worth a try. Any swarm you catch now will need feeding a LOT to ensure they are ready for winter. Worse case if they don't make it through winter you have a hive that smells of bees and is full of comb making it a better bait hive next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the tips, I'd be willing to say I learned a thing or two! Also, in case the links above are giving you trouble, here they are again.
Top Level Dwg and 3-D PDF (Must download to view)

1: Hive size. 20-40 litres seems to be the optimum size. Use follower boards to restrict size in your hive or make a bait hive of 8-15 bars. It depends on the bee race but 10 bars works well for me.
Mine has 15 and the hive will have a follower board (front entrance).

2: Use a solid bottom or if you have a mesh bottom cover it well. Any light getting in reduces the chances of the bees taking up residence. It will also cause housed swarms to abscond.
The trap has a solid bottom and the hive will have a removable solid bottom with a screen.

3: Rub around the inside of the hive with beeswax. If you do not have any beeswax buy some organic from the internet. This does NOT spread disease the same way as honey from bad sources does but you should use a reputable seller.
I was thinking about that... I have some wax I bought from a store, but I also know a guy at work who raises un-medicated bees... I'll have to hit him up for wax!

4: Your comb guides need to be bomb proof. Since they are entering an empty space with no existing comb to show them how and where to build you need really good comb guides. Use either foundation/wax starter strips of 1/2 - 1 inch (bigger will warp, smaller is ineffective) or triangle or semi-circular wooden bars rubbed with beeswax.
I'm pretty confident in the bar design and I've heard conflicting opinions on rubbing them with wax, as they can do a better job attaching to the comb than melted wax will do... that said, I'll still probably rub some on the very bottom tip of the bar just to give them a hint.

5: Old comb makes a massive difference. Either attach to a topbar or melt with olive oil/vegetable oil and add lemon grass oil when cooling. This slow the vapourising of the lemon grass oil (LGO). Rub this around the inside of the hive. If you like I can send you some of this. If you do this do NOT also do 6: as too much LGO can put them off.

6: Like the man said. Zip lock bag, cotton wool ball, lemon grass oil. Don't over do it. A few drops of LGO on the entrance too.
Wow, that's really nice of you to offer that. I did buy some from a beek this past spring with a veil, smoker and some tools... I think I like the zip lock bag idea more though. If that doesn't work, I'll certainly be willing to try the oil mix. Or were you recommending melting wax and adding oil and the LGO? Interesting thought if you were!

7: Entrance size should be 1 inch diameter (25mm). Any larger is difficult to defend and they don't seem to like smaller as much (though small cast swarms may). If you have mulitple entrances close them off/cork them up.
Check - current design is a 1in Ø hole.

8: Entrance should face south or eash of south. Not essential but seems preferred.
I can probably figure out how to make that happen...

9: When colonising a hive the bees seems to prefer basic entrances to periscope entrances.
Periscope entrance... that sounds complicated!

10: The bees seem to prefer a hive at 6-8 feet off the ground. Obviously not possible with your actual hive but good if you are using a smaller bait hive.
Hence the mounting board... easy on, easy off.

11: Bait hives near sources of water, propolys, and nectar will obivously also do better.
I'll have to think about that one...

Then leave them alone until you see bees heading in with pollen. If you like you can top up the the LGO on the entrance every week or two (just a drop). If you open it you could disturb scout who are overnighting and mess up your chances.
Good to know! Never thought about disturbing scouts...

Being august you have mostly missed the swarming session but it is still worth a try. Any swarm you catch now will need feeding a LOT to ensure they are ready for winter. Worse case if they don't make it through winter you have a hive that smells of bees and is full of comb making it a better bait hive next year.
I'll be lucky to have these built by December at this rate...
 
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