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...