• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • James Freyr
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • jordan barton
gardeners:
  • Jay Angler
  • Greg Martin
  • Leigh Tate

Swarm Traps

 
Posts: 296
7
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do not have the money to buy a real swarm trap. I have seen lots of bees on my land and would like to try to catch a swarm and build a primitive bee hive for them. I am thinking I could construct a top bar hive fairly simply. I'm in the Ozarks and am wondering when will the time to catch a swarm be over? I have lemon grass oil and old comb to bait a swarm trap with. I am worried about haring the swarm get caught then not being out to the property for several days for some reason. Will the bees be alright if they just stay in the swarm trap for a week or two if I can not build a hive right away? I'm almost thinking of trying to mimic a bee tree for a swarm trap so the bees would have a natural environment if I were not able to put the time into them that they would need.
 
steward
Posts: 3605
Location: woodland, washington
147
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
you can make a bait hive out of real cheap materials. some folks use cardboard boxes or polystyrene.

if a swarm moves in to a bait hive, they'll start building right away. if they're only in there for a day or two, that's not really a big deal. if there's a good chance it will be longer than that, I like to build bait hives with top bars that I can transfer to a permanent hive. that way, even if they build a whole bunch of comb and start raising brood before I notice, it's relatively simple to move them without much disturbance to the integrity of their nest.

honey bees can swarm roughly anytime they're active. for the most part, earlier in the season is better. a swarm that issues after the summer solstice is much less likely to survive its first year without a lot of intervention, but that doesn't mean late swarms aren't worth collecting. even if they don't make it, they'll give the next colony to move in a head start on building comb.
 
gardener
Posts: 1007
Location: Western Washington
258
duck forest garden personal care rabbit bee homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I like to use hives themselves for swarm catching, so I don't have to move them or anything. Just put the hive out and bait it.

It's really easy to make a hollow log hive. You can even use a few shorter rounds and fuse them together with cow manure. A homemade topbar also works fine. A little lemongrass oil or swarm commander (which is made of queen pheremone and lemongrass oil) will help bring them in. Definitely the sooner the better. If you buy swarm commander get the original brand, which I believe is sold by woods bee company.
 
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Southern Germany
194
kids books urban chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts bee
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wonder what your legislation (US?) says about swarm baiting.

Here in Germany it is frowned upon if you try to catch somebody else's bees - because the bees belonged to somebody before. So you should wait and see if the beekeeper turns up to collect it. This may even be the day after when he realized that the bees are gone and someone else caught them.
In previous times the bee owners would follow the swarm (on bike) and hang a hat in the tree where the swarm was, then collect their gear and by that let everybody know that the swarm is not owner-less.

Second thing is you are not allowed to leave out empty hives that were used before (to prevent spreading of diseases like American Foulbrood), only empty hives.

Every community here has a local "swarm catcher" you can call if you notice a swarm in garden/outdoors. It is normally one of the local beekeepers. He gets to keep the bees if no owner shows up.
(I made my first swarm inspection two days ago, and one hive already started to build queen cups - I made a split with them, I hope I did everything ok as I am not really experienced yet).
 
James Landreth
gardener
Posts: 1007
Location: Western Washington
258
duck forest garden personal care rabbit bee homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Anita raises a good point, that it could well very state to state and definitely does vary country to country. But, typically in my region the laws state that if a swarm arrives on your property, it's yours, regardless of whether you bait for it or not. It's not a hot button issue because most beekeepers here prevent swarming and propagate bees in a highly artificial manner
 
Author & Beekeeper
Posts: 44
30
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I commonly catch swarm as late as the first week of September here in the Ozarks in southern Missouri.

I would not use a swarm trap that does not have frames primed with foundation in it. Trying to then transfer bees from it into a permanent hive will likely kill the colony. Swarm traps that have no frames in them are possible but are more difficult to handle successfully, especially if you don't have extensive experience with frame-less hives.  There are free plans for building swarm traps on HorizontalHive.com  and complete swarm traps filled with frames are available for just $89.
 
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Leo Sharashkin wrote:I commonly catch swarm as late as the first week of September here in the Ozarks in southern Missouri.

I would not use a swarm trap that does not have frames primed with foundation in it. Trying to then transfer bees from it into a permanent hive will likely kill the colony. Swarm traps that have no frames in them are possible but are more difficult to handle successfully, especially if you don't have extensive experience with frame-less hives.  There are free plans for building swarm traps on HorizontalHive.com  and complete swarm traps filled with frames are available for just $89.



Leo, thanks for sharing. I was thinking it was too late for us to catch a swarm.. I’ve never noticed honey bees on our farm before, does this mean putting a trap up on our property is not the most ideal place? We don’t feel comfortable setting up a trap outside of our property.

Also, what is the timing on your shopping for your traps and hives right now?
 
Posts: 11
Location: Casper, WY zone: 4a
2
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Has anybody used swarm traps in a city? I remember reading that honey bees fly some distance away from the hive before they collect pollen.  So getting your neighbor to get a hive would be beneficial for you and vise versa.
 
Leo Sharashkin
Author & Beekeeper
Posts: 44
30
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Joy, it it indeed preferable to put your swarm trap in a place with lots of wildflowers that attract bees. This is because the scout bees from the swarm are the same bees that had been foragers in the previous couple weeks, so the places they go to for food are the most familiar to them, so placing the trap there increases your chances of catching a swarm.  There's a free swarm-catching guide on my website: http://horizontalhive.com/honeybee-swarm-trap/bait-hive-how-to-catch.shtml  and if you decide to order a swarm trap, it ships within 1-2 business days.  In addition to the swarm trap box, get a Swarm Lure Kit (lemongrass oil with special slow-release tubes - you put this in the box and the smell attracts the scouts) and a pack of wax foundation to install in the frames to guide bee's regular comb construction.
 
Leo Sharashkin
Author & Beekeeper
Posts: 44
30
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Chad, you CAN catch a swarm in a city. In fact, it is often easier than in the countryside, for two reasons:
1. There is less pesticide used in the cities than on the farmland, so bees get poisoned less in cities than in the country!
2. In cities, there are fewer trees with natural cavities in them than in wooded natural areas - so if a swarm finds your swarm trap box, they will gladly accept it!  By comparison, if you live in the woods (I do), the scouts may find your swarm trap box AND a tree hollow, and then go for the "real thing", moving into the bee tree.
Because there are few natural cavities left in the cities, wild bees move into all kinds of structures (behind siding in buildings, etc) so in most cities there is a very robust population of feral bees.
 
Chad Pivik
Posts: 11
Location: Casper, WY zone: 4a
2
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks a million Leo!  I've talked to old local bee keepers about getting bees and in just one day I've not only learned more from you and your videos online, you have inspired me to actually build a hive and attract some bees. I'm going to my neighbors house to tell her the good news on bee keeping. She has a fantastic bio-diverse flower yard.  Maybe bees will be her gateway animal to city permaculture craziness.      
 
                
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
These resources are magnificent!

I live in the PNW in the U.S. and have fond hopes of keeping bees someday soon.

Is there a book in on catching swarms anyone would recommend?
 
Live a little! The night is young! And we have umbrellas in our drinks! This umbrella has a tiny ad:
Simple Home Energy Solutions, battery bank videos
https://permies.com/wiki/151158/Simple-Home-Energy-Solutions-battery
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic