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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 18th year of beekeeping in April 2023. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Making a Homemade Swarm Trap

While wandering around various bee sites the other day, I found this post about how to build a swarm trap from two flower pots. The idea originally came from the Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping by Dean Stiglitz and Laurie Herboldsheimer. I admire Dean and read his posts gladly when he posts on Beemaster.com.

At first I was defeated by the unavailability of these pressed fiber pots in Atlanta - that's right - in Atlanta. The big nurseries use them to pot their trees and rosebushes but are unwilling to sell them. I found everything else at my big box hardware store, but ended up ordering the pots online.

Jeff and I built three swarm traps today. The whole operation takes about 15 minutes, not counting the time it takes for the goop that you use to fill the holes to cure.

First we drilled two holes in the pot that would be the top to put a cable zip tie for hanging. I confess it took me several tries to find the right size drill bit, but once that choice was made, we were up and running. I threaded the cable zip through the holes from the inside, fastened it on the inside, and we had a handle/loop for hanging.

For bait I put two pieces of old comb into each swarm trap. I also smeared the inside with homemade swarm lure (a recipe I posted several years ago) and shook some lemon grass essential oil into it as well.

Then we put the two halves together and Jeff screwed them together with 1 1/4 inch screws.

Then we went out on the deck (Jeff and Valerie live in my old house where the bee hives used to be - if the area where we are looks familiar to you) and used this goopy stuff to fill all the drainage holes but one. The open hole is supposed to provide an entry for the swarm scouts (first) and then the bees.

Since I've caught a swarm on this deck every year since I began beekeeping, we thought we should hang one on the deck. Also if Colony Square does swarm, this might be a place they would go and I wouldn't lose my precious bees!

It was too cold to make another nuc today so we put off another foray into Colony Square for another few days.

I do hope at least one of the three traps draws a swarm.  I'm putting the other two in other places - one at my house and one at the Blue Heron.

Jeff and I decided that hanging this up is a little like fishing - you might not catch a thing, but the process is really fun!  If we do catch a swarm in one of these, we'll unscrew the four connecting screws and dump the bees into a real hive.  
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  1. Bom dia Linda,
    Gostei da idéia que você apresentou, aqui no Brasil o que vem funcionando muito bem para captura de enxames é a utilização de caixas de maçã, o odor e o tamanho dela contribuem muito para isto,facilitando a colocação de umas tiras de cera alveolada e depois para o transporte da mesma até o apiário.
    É apenas uma sugestão, parabéns pelo seu BLOG.

  2. What a clever idea! I hope you catch fish (uh, bees!)

  3. Great cheap and easy idea. Enjoyed the content. Interesting homemade lure recipe. Look forward to giving this technique a try.
    Brad Drake
    NV Bee Guy

  4. Anonymous6:34 AM

    enjoyed your low tech beekeeping at the pickens meeting last thursday night....
    Michael Hattaway -- third year beekeeper.

  5. Have you had any luck with it???

  6. Yes - see the posts that come after this one such as: http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com/2012/03/swarm-trap-success-or-honey-bee.html I caught a swarm that is now doing well. We hung three traps and caught one swarm - pretty good rate, I think.

    1. I just finished making the trap and bait this morning. No sooner had I hoisted it into position and the ladies were checking it out. I have one hive that will swarm soon. One deep and three med. supers on it. It is literally packed with bees. Will let you know if I catch them. Thank you so very much for the class in Statesboro, and the information.

  7. So exciting! We've seen FOUR swarms this year just in the past few weeks! Three of which we successfully grabbed, but one (sadly) was 50 ft high. So we're going to build your trap for the future. Thanks for the fantastic blog.

    1. I used a sling shot 1 oz weight and a fishing rod and reel to get one up 40 to 50 feet.

  8. Anonymous1:33 PM

    I'm a newbie lookin for some trap placing advice!!! Please respond!!!

    1. On the off chance you come back around and see this:

      Put your swarm traps:
      1) Near a water source. Preferably a standing water source, like a pond. Doesn't need to be a big one, an overgrown puddle will do so long as it sticks around or refills semi regularly.
      2) Out in the open. Won't have a lot of luck with a trap placed out in thick forest, but if its out in an open area where it's the easiest source of shelter around, it will be much more enticing for the bees (any port in the storm and all that).
      3) Some people say you need to put them 5-10 feet off the ground to attract the bees, but I haven't seen that as a requirement. Its a good idea to put them off the ground to keep raccoons and other nuisance animals out of them though.

      So, a lone tree by a small pond surrounded by lots of wildflowers would be the ideal place for a trap (and an ideal place to actually put a hive!).

  9. Anonymous5:23 PM

    I really enjoyed your presentation to the Pickens County Beekeepers and have successfully used your solar wax melter directions to process all my wax! I am planning to order some fiber pots and am wondering what size you used. I did not find the size in your directions. My apologies if I just missed it!
    Many thanks,
    Marge M.

  10. I believe they were 11.5 inches, but it doesn't matter if they are a little bigger than that - it was a manageable size for me and seemed to offer the bees the approximately 40 liter space they need.

  11. Anonymous3:46 PM

    One more question. What did you use to block the holes? you refer to it as the gooey stuff.

  12. Anonymous4:40 PM

    This is a very clever idea. Have you caught any others besides the first one listed above?

  13. I only used these for the first time last year, but I loved catching the swarm, so I am using them again this year. We'll see how it works. I also like leaving hive equipment all set up with old comb from last year to attract swarms. That has worked almost every year for me.

  14. What was the gooey stuff and what was the right size drill bit?

  15. The gooey stuff is in a spray can and is really called GREAT STUFF - it's about $4 a can at your big box store. The drill bit is sized by the size screw you are using - one slightly smaller than the screw.

    1. The "gooey stuff" is called expandafoam.

  16. How often do you need to re-bait them

  17. Anonymous6:50 PM

    Do you treat the pots with anything to water proof them or do they shed water pretty well?

  18. Hello Linda, is the a link to order the flower pots, having a hard time finding out where to buy them.

  19. I caught 12 swarms last year using plastic bags, cotton balls and 10 drops of this pure natural lemongrass oil - https://goo.gl/D3zZHJ

  20. What site did you find your pots at or on. I can't seem to locate any. Thank you

  21. The original company I bought from doesn’t appear to be in business. I just taught a hands on workshop at MABA (my local bee club) and got those pots from greenhouse megastore online.

  22. We bought ours from GreenhouseMegaStore.com as well. They are wonderful to work with!


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