Swarm Trappin’ & Bee Baitin’: Langstroth Bait Hive

Bait hive 3

We’ve had a single beehive for around a year now.  We adore bees (and looking after them) so it’s time to take the next step and expand the apiary.

Ideally we would like to catch local swarms: swarms being made up of healthy stock and local bees being adapted to the conditions in our area.  Also, we’d like bees for free.  So we are building bait hives (swarm traps) to try to convince some local bees we can give them a good home should they be in need of one.

We have built both a Langstroth compatible and a Warre compatible bait hive.  This post will just cover the Langstroth, we’ll do a separate one on the Warre.

I basically followed the instructions from “Swarm Traps and Bait Hives“, which cost $6.99 as a kindle on Amazon – money well spent for some good tips and to avoid making rookie mistakes.

First I assembled an old 8 frame deep Langstroth box that had been lying around in the gym.  It had been knocked around a fair bit and warped from getting wet, so we wouldn’t have used it on a hive – bait hives are a great use of damaged boxes!

It just so happens that the volume of the 8 frame deep Langstroth box (39L) is pretty damn close to the preferred cavity size (40L) for swarms to set up shop, plus has the advantage of being able to take frames that make transfer of the swarm to their permanent hive nice and easy.

Bait hive 2

I cut a bottom for the bait hive out of 18mm ply, and a roof and hanging board out of 18mm marine ply (bit more water resistance for the lid/hanging board).

The bottom was screwed on (I used screws rather than nails to make it a bit more robust).  The hanging board (15cm x 60cm) was screwed on with 6 screws – this takes the brunt of the load so needs to be strong.  It’s also important that the hanging board is centred on the side of the box so that it will hang level.  The lid will be secured with just a couple of screws, in this case because they can be removed gently (removing nails may not make for happy bees).

Rohan drilled about a 2 cm hole at the top of the hanging board and a about a 4cm hole in the bottom right corner of the front of the box.  I attached a “door” with a single screw so that it can be slid over the entrance hole so that it can be closed when moving with bees inside.  (I originally put an entrance hole and door on the side but changed my mind, in this position the ends of the frames blocked the entrance a bit and I wasn’t sure if that would put the bees off).

Bait hive 4

The entire bait hive was given a few coats of raw linseed oil, with a day between each.  There are 3 old frames in there at the moment (they came from our hive so we know they’re disease free), old equipment with the smell of bees will hopefully help entice scouts in.  We’re waiting on some more frames to fill the box and foundation wax so we can attach starter strips.

Last, but certainly not least, I put 8 drops of lemongrass essential oil on a bit of paper towel in a little zip lock bag with the corner open.  The lemongrass oil mimics Nasonov pheromone,  which is basically the bees’ way of telling other bees “come here” in various situations.

When the frames arrive next week we’ll hang this baby up and keep you posted on whether or not it catches a swarm!

Bait hive 1