It’s almost bee swarm season, so we thought we’d get an early start on getting our traps ready. Scottie has been doing so much more research on building traps than I have, but I decided to make one anyway.
Scottie and I were out trying to choose a good spot in the yard when I said, “You just watch, I’m going to be the first to get some bees in the trap (beez… beez in the trap)!” We both busted out laughing.
I don’t think Nicki Minaj had this idea in mind when she wrote that song – I’m sure honey bees were the farthest from her mind, but now, every time I think about catching bees, that stupid song comes to mind.
It’s a bit early, but the SC Beekeepers Association’s calendar says that some early swarms could occur in March, so we wanted to be ready.
Last Friday, after watching a few Youtube videos, we gathered our materials and put together this simple and inexpensive bee swarm trap. It took us about two hours to get it assembled.
Follow the steps below and you’ll be able to do the same.
Materials you’ll need:
- A wooden or cardboard box
- A wax comb frame or wooden strips
- 100% Beeswax (if you don’t have a wax frame)
- Duct tape or packing tape
- Lemongrass essential oil
- #8 Metal screen mesh
- Langstroth or Topbar Beehive
Here’s how to build a bee swarm trap
1. Get your box ready. (If you have a wooden box, you can move on to step 2). You can use just about any cardboard box that’s at least the size of a copy paper box. If you have a cardboard box, prepare it by taping all of the seams. Cover all holes except one. You’ll only want one entrance for the bees. If you select a cardboard box, you’ll want to watch the weather or either wrap it in plastic so it won’t be ruined by the rain.
We were very fortunate to find this very sturdy bankers box at the thrift store for $1.75. It already has holes we’ll use for the entrance, a place to hold our wooden strip frame, and will hopefully make removing the bees as simple as pulling out the drawer when we’re ready.
2. Get your wax frames ready. (If you already have a Langstroth frame of wax that you can insert, you can move to step 4.) If you don’t have a frame of wax, you can nail together some strips of wood like we did. We made our temporary frame by nailing together three pieces of wood.
3. Add wax to the top of the frame. We used a string as a guide.
4. Place your waxed frame inside the box.
5. Put a few dabs of lemongrass essential oil inside the box.
We used cotton swabs, but you could use a cotton ball. Pour a little oil on the cotton swab/ball then rub some inside the box, right by the entrance and then leave the whole cotton swab inside the box (toward the rear). You can get a small bottle from the health food store, or you can order some from Amazon – depending on the size, a bottle will cost between $3.50 and $9.00.
6. Poke some air holes in the box for ventilation. We used some scissors to make small holes. I’ve also seen it done with the tip of a pencil or a screwdriver. If you don’t allow for ventilation, too much moisture may cause the box to collapse or the bees simply may not have enough air flow and this can cause them to leave.
7. Seal up the box completely. Double check your seams and be sure you’ve covered all holes other than the ones left for air ventilation. Notice that we sealed the part of the box were the two boxes fit together. If you’re working with a copy paper box, you’ll want to seal the top and the bottom of the box together.
8. Find a good spot in your yard. We looked for trees or groups of trees that the box could fit fairly well on its own without too much additional support. I found this spot that allowed me to sit the box between three branches and then secured it with some string.
9. Wait patiently and keep your eyes on your box. Depending on when you’re doing this it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Keep your eyes on the weather and check the box at least once a day. When you notice bees buzzing around and entering your box, move on to step 10.
10. Wait until night, then cover the entrance with the metal mesh. It’s important that you do this at night when the bees are all inside the trap. Before you go outside, get your mesh ready – tape up each side of the mesh with your duct tape so that all you’ll have to do is walk up to the trap and press the mesh in place. Wait until morning, no later than the next afternoon, then transfer the bees into your permanent beehive.
Who will get the first bees in the trap?
As we were picking our spots in the yard for our traps, we made a little wager. I bet Scottie that I would be the first to get the bees in the trap – of course, Scottie thinks he’ll be the first. Whose box do you think will fill up first?
If you’d like to watch the video where we got our ideas, take a moment to watch it below:
Any questions or comments? Don’t forget to leave them below.
Update 6/6/14: It took a while, but we finally caught some bees in two of our traps. Read about it and check out the video: Our Swarm Traps Worked.