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Swarms and Swarm Traps

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  • #11023

    Does anyone have a recommendation on what swarm traps to use? Make your own, buy commercial? Should commercial traps be coated with propolis or melted wax? What design to use and WHEN does swarm season start. I have put a commercial one which is basically a 6 frame hive style where I had a feral hive, but I am not expecting anything till March/April? I put in 6 frames with 1 wax base and a cotton ball with the Lemon Grass Oil on it. Any tips or successful actions in this arena?

    susan rudnicki

    I picked up a swarm today in Trader Joe’s parking lot. Also, a meter box cutout. Swarm season is off and running early due to the warm dry weather this year. Last year it was pouring rain till mid-March. I see a lot of drones and drone brood already in my colonies. Swarm traps are not a sure thing—they can sit for years and never bring in anybody—just as well to just have old hive bodies, previously occupied sitting out anywhere!

    Steven Kan

    I’ve had excellent luck with a seasoned (e.g. previously inhabited) deep body with at least one frame of old brood comb, plus a few drops of lemongrass oil (citratus). I fill the rest of the box with frames so that I don’t have a problem with cross-comb or lid comb when they move in. The other advantage of using a “real” hive body (full sized or nuc) is that you don’t have to transfer them when you move them.

    Then again I’m trapping in a known-good location, so location is probably more important than the setup of the trap.

    If you’re trapping near a previous location of a feral hive, then that’s perfect. Bees have already established that it’s a good location, and if there’s any leftover scent from the previous colony, that’ll help, too.

    Don’t put too much LGO inside the trap, or it can prevent the bees from moving in. But you can also place some LGO outside the trap to lure the scouts near, and then a modest amount inside the trap. I put one drop on the top board, one drop on the bottom board, and two drops onto cotton balls inside a closed ziploc bag. I caught 1 swarm in this location in 2016, three last year, and two so far this year. Prior to that, feral bees infested the wall in this location in 2011 and 2014. So the bees definitely like this location!

    I actually captured my last capture on video! Click here:

    You can scroll back a few hours and watch the number of scouts steadily increase over time and then plummet as they reach a quorum and decide that “this is it!” Then all the scouts disappear for awhile, and then the entire swarm arrives en masse at 02:44:00 YouTube time (e.g. the time on the scrollbar, _not_ the time-of-day stamp in the upper left).

    I moved that swarm to my bee yard, 30′ away, and now I’m waiting for all the stragglers to give up before I reset the trap.

    ceebs bailey

    Nice video!

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