Years ago in 2007, an Italian beekeeper shared his swarm lure recipe with me and I have made it every year since. In a good bee year, it's amazingly effective. I have just put it on my empty hives at the community garden and on my top bar hive which is empty of bees.
Next week is March and in Atlanta, that often marks the beginning of swarm season. I have drones flying in all of my hives, so I made swarm lure this week, like a good "be prepared" Girl Scout.
Here's the easy to follow recipe:
1 square inch cube of beeswax
1/4 cup of oil - olive oil was in his recipe but he's in Italy - any relatively no-smell oil will do
12 - 20 drops of lemongrass essential oil
Put the first two ingredients in a glass jar (small jelly jar) and set the jar in a small pan of hot water. Heat until wax is fully melted. I stir with a chop stick and remove the jar from the water. I use a jar lifter which I have for making apple butter.
Let it cool only slightly and then stir in the lemongrass oil.
As the mixture cools, it will become solid but smeary. If your cubes are larger than 1X1 inch, use more oil. You want the concoction to be soft enough to smear. Sometimes I carry a chopstick to scoop out some of the harder versions of my lure before smearing it on the hive.
How to use this fabulous attractant?
- Smear it around the center hole in the inner cover.
- Smear it on some of the frames in the top box on the hive
- Smear it on the underside of the top of the entrance to the hive (if you smear it on the bottom, the bees feet will stick and get goopy so just on the top of the entrance.