Catching swarms after losing the lot to Varrora

Don’t know why people buy packages when swarm catching is easy and fun.

After losing my bees to the Varrora eradication I am now back up to six hives by catching swarms. Got a beauty this arvo, its about half a bucket of bees so should be a strong start. Boxed and moved in about an hour and a half.



Good onya Rob, well done.

Not really up to scratch with what your ag.dept is up to regarding Varroa, but weren’t they supposed to be eradicating the feral hives too, and these swarms are meant to be euthanised?

I am about 100km outside the eradication zone so swarms are OK to catch here.

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Good for you Rob!
Catching swarms is a huge buzz for me too - pardon the pun.


Hi Rob

how do you go about catching swarms?
What do you have in your Swarm Boxes to attract them?

I’ve set up my Nuc, (for something to do) just in the rarte case there is a swarm about.
My neighbour had one decide to make a home in his Wall. (not from my hive) and i thought there might be a case for catching one if about.

Best lure I found is used hive equipment. Attracts a lot of scout bees.

A nuc may be too small, never had success with them. A full size box is more attractive for them.


I use a purpose-built swarm trap:

This one’s a 6 frame box with a large gap below the frames (bees apparently go for this gap when swarming). I also have a five-frame smaller one and made some boxes with an entrance to sit under my 8-frame brood boxes. Paint the interior sides with some melted wax, add frames, swarm commander (not too much) a few dead bees and that’s about it. Locate the trap preferably high in a tree - I don’t do this as it’s asking for a fall. I have about 6 or 7 around the place as a backup and for the feral hives that were here before I started beekeeping. When cutting down dead trees, I left tall stumps to sit the traps on.
Check out Thomas Seely and his recommendations for swarm traps or bait hives.

Most of the time I just take them when clustered on a branch. Where possible, I will gently prune the branch they are clustered on and put the whole thing in a nuc, swarm trap or brood box with a couple of frames - then add more frames after they’ve gone in and take out the branch when they’ve moved onto the frames. I then move the box off the ground once they’re in, ideally to their new location then leave them alone. I’ll then feed them if needed (zip lock bags) and wait until they start bringing in pollen. When ready they’ll be transferred into a brood box from a swarm trap or nuc. When there’s a flow on they’ll expand very quickly.


Trees are very impractical. Alternatives are, if you have them, a balcony, or on top a rainwater tank. I had success with both. But never had success using a nucleus hive.

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Highly respected bee researcher, Tom Seeley, has done research on this, and he completely agrees with you. You need a box about the size of an 8 or 10 frame Langstroth deep. For a healthy swarm, that is very attractive!



Because I had nothing left after the visit from the DPI I caught my first swarm using Swarm Commander in an 8 frame box.

The one I got yesterday was in a small tree so I could just bump them into an empty box then let the stragglers walk in, that is why its just got a ply base and is sitting on the ground.


I agree about the trees. I’ve got mine on level tall stumps, one on a hot water tank, one on a rainwater tank, one on hay bales and one as shown above. I had a few 5-frame wooden nuc boxes lying around so have set up one above the other but only put frames in the top one. It’s worth a shot as they’re just lying around and the bees will either take it or leave it. If I have an unexpected swarm then it’s sitting there ready to grab.