Great timing to have Christy out! I just attended my first beekeeping class 2 days ago with Jacob Wustner, which was awesome. There are 4 new bee boxes here at Paul's and I want to try and catch a swarm or two. We want to build a bee hut or two first, then set out two boxes in two places. We have been given some frames with already drawn natural honeycomb, given to us by Jacob. We have also learned about using essential oil of lemongrass in addition to the honeycomb to attract a wild swarm. We are also planning to use frames with no foundation drawn but are thinking of adding beeswax to the tops and bottoms of the frames. So, my first question is: do you have any more suggestions for attracting a swarm?
Secondly, we do not want to use paint for the outside of the boxes but would like to protect them from weather (although our bee huts should help with that). Would any natural finish like a 1:1 ratio of beeswax and olive oil be an acceptible replacement?
Thank you for your time! I checked out a few beekeeping books from the library yesterday and am excited to learn.
search for Tom Seeley's pdf on bait hives. that gives some good information about placement and size.
for lures, old brood comb works pretty well. old wax moth debris is really good. propolis. if you use lemongrass oil, make sure to get C. citratus instead of C. flexuosus. C. flexuosus might work, but C. citratus definitely works. queen tincture (dead queens in alcohol), but that's not terribly easy to work up if you don't already keep bees.
half/half beeswax and raw linseed oil is a popular hive treatment. one coat isn't likely to hurt the permeability of the hive much. I use tung oil, limewash, and kakishibu (not on the same hive). all of those work fine, too. limewash is a particularly cheap option. if you've got ten years (seven to grow the persimmon trees, three to ferment the juice), you could make kakishibu yourself, which would be nice.