Building a Swarm Trap

In my quest to capture a swarm of bees to populate my Top Bar Hive, I decided to make a Swarm Trap using the methods described at Beekeeping in Ontario. Using mismatched equipment I already had on hand as well as surplus resources from my previous hives such as empty drawn out frames, I created a Swarm Trap!

Putting together a Swarm Trap takes no time at all, from start to finish – about an hour! I used a deep hive body that I first built back in March of 2012 which I hadn’t used for anything because the dimensions were off from the standard equipment I use so it made for the perfect box for a trap.

I began by first drilling a 1-inch hole in the front of the box as the entrance and attached a floor board. In it, I put four drawn out frames from one of my dead out hives in the middle of the box along with empty frames on either sides for support and to keep everything from shifting around inside as the trap was lifted into position up a tree. Before closing it up with a roof, I inserted a couple of absorbent cotton balls with a few drops of Lemongrass Oil on each and closed it up. Not having access to commercial swarm lures, I used lemongrass oil instead which is similar to queen pheromone and is used to entice scout bees to their new home – this combined with the scent of beeswax (drawn out frames) should be sufficient to attract a swarm. Lastly, I affixed a brace to the back end of the hive body which is used to screw the trap to a tree.

Ideally, the swarm trap should be placed at a height of 15 feet and facing south. I placed my Swarm Trap about 10 feet up in a poplar tree facing south east very close to the roadway on the opposite corner of the property and away from my current hives. The logic here, that the prevailing winds would blow across the property and catch the waft of lemongrass scent emanating from the trap and be carried towards the road and into the passing traffic where it would further be carried along until a scout bee catches wiff of it and follows it back to the swarm trap.

Here it is! The swarm trap will remain in the tree until mid-June and I will report back here with the results (if any). Thanks to Chris Inch of Beekeeping in Ontario for the DYI post on How to Catch a Swarm of Bees. Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Building a Swarm Trap

  1. Chris Inch

    Hey Marc. I’m jealous that yours is already up and in place. I have yet to build mine, even after writing the article. I’m really looking forward to hearing if you get one.

    1. apiary43 Post author

      Hi Chris, you should be able to build one in no time at all. Besides with our wonky weather, swarming should begin real soon. It helps to have a friend who is a skilled carpenter to help with all of these builds.

  2. ron

    cool. best of luck.
    I just built and set out my first swarm trap today too. I used and modified the nuc box that came with the bees when I first purchased them.
    Good idea about soaking a cotton ball with the lemongrass oil. I just splashed it around the walls and on the comb.
    I haven’t read anything about it but I put in a full frame of honey too. hopefully that won’t attract the wrong things though.
    again, best of luck.

    1. apiary43 Post author

      Oh excellent, I also considered using a nuc box for this endeavor but decided on bigger is better :-) I’d be interested in learning of your results using the nuc box. How high did you mount your trap? As for adding a honey frame, I also added a partial frame that contained some honey but not a lot. The frames I used in the trap are mainly frames I don’t plan on using in my regular hives just yet i.e. damaged comb, etc.


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