I’m probably a bit early but the weather here - coastal, central Queensland - has been a bit of a dog’s breakfast this year so I’m expecting an early spring . In anticipation I’m looking at setting up trap hives around our 500 acre property. I have recently converted my few wooden langstroth hives to poly hives so have extra boxes on hand. I have a selectively cleared cattle property with a lot of existing eucalypts up to 40 metres tall of many different species. I’ve identified 4 wild euro hives and at least 5 native hives mostly in bloodwood trees and almost always in branches facing to the northwest In addition there are several dozen commercial hives about 2 km away in amongst largely uncleared scrub. Ironbark, bluegum and cabbage gum are in flower or are about to flower and the main species - paperbark (Melaleuca) will flower in about 4-6 weeks. These paperbarks produce so many flowers the smell is almost nauseating at times and line all of the local creeks and gullies. So basically I think we’re about to enter a large honey flow and would like to trap a few swarms from the euro hives which must surely be going to swarm in the next few months. I’ll use old wooden hives with 9 used frames as the traps along with a dash of lemongrass oil. My question is : Do you have any suggestions for placement? Should the hives be close to the trees with existing hives or leave a gap - if so how far? Also how much of an advantage does height give? I can easily put them up to 3 m high off the back of a ute but is it better to get higher? I’ll place with the entrances facing northwest to avoid the south easterlies - any other suggestions or pointers such as timing of placement or experience with nassanov scent would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Hello Paul, it is a very mild ‘Winter’ here on the Sunshine Coast with plenty of showers passing of a night so the low growing foliage that normally flowers in August/September is blooming already. Seems like a great season coming after last years drought.
A mate a bit north of me does a lot of trapping in the swarming season, his area has lots of ground cover and low scrub as well as tall timber and his theory is to have trap hives at about the same height off the ground as the scrub in flower. He uses old frames of comb and says a smear of lemon grass oil works well. At the start of swarming season to set out the hives makes sense.
I used to add a trap hive when I used to move hives into an area but to be honest I can’t recall ever having them used so I canned that idea and used those boxes to make more colonies.
Just a word of caution when you do trap a new colony keep them separated from your established hives till you are sure they are healthy free of issues.
I’m doing the same thing on my farm - attempting to trap 3 wild euro hives with bait hives I’ve made with leftover ply. I’ve based them on Tom Seeley’s design as he seems to be the authority on bait hives, with most reporting good success with his design - it’s basically an overgrown nuc box. Seeley advocates for space below the frames as being a key factor in their success.
I used this guy’s design as it’s the simplest I could find (because a chippy, I ain’t):
As far as height goes, Seeley recommends height while others say it’s ideal but not the bee all and end all. I’m not interested in juggling a bait hive up a tree so I’ll be limiting height to the end of my ladder. Like Peter says, I’ll put them near lower flowering trees / shrubs.
Another recommendation was to put them on the edge of the woods, forest or patch of trees. The bees will struggle to find it buried in a forest so look for somewhere on or near the edge of the vegetation and hopefully on a bee highway. I’m going to face mine N/E but that might just be here.
This is based on no experience but from information gleaned during my research. A good starting point is a search on Thomas Seeley and bait hives.
Good luck with it and I’d be interested in how it goes for you if you’d care to post. Spring is still a way off here but I hope to have them up in good time.
Thanks Peter and Outbeck,
Personally I think Eucalypts are like a lot of plants and flower strongly in response to tough conditions i.e. drought. “If things are going well then just keep growing” So hopefully we’re in for a bumper honey flow.
I won’t be in rush to move any swarms as there is no real need. They’re up off the ground away from the cattle so I will only move them back to the house when convenient. I’m aware of foul brood though I’ve never seen it first hand. Any quick suggestions on what I should be looking out for before bringing them in contact with existing hives?
Seeley’s design certainly makes sense, however I have a few boxes so I thought I’d make use of those before building any more. I have some half depth boxes and used frames so maybe I’ll compromise and use the half frames in a full depth box.I’ll be a bit short on used frames so maybe I’ll just use say 6 frames and baulk up the rest with timber or whatever to reduce the overall internal width of the box. Then I can just remove it later , add frames and continue to manage as normal.
I think you’re right about placing on the edge of scrub. My neighbour has about 50 acres of uncleared of solid scrub and large old trees (bloodwood) with lots of hollows and yet I’ve never found a single beehive - euro or native. The wild hives I have found on our property do tend to occur on fencelines and creek banks or have some point of reference - makes sense really if you have to find your way home by dead reckoning and landmarks. Also the wild euro hives are fairly close to permanent water (dams waterholes) so that will have to be factored in as well.
Have you found any info. on how far away to place from existing hives? I’m assuming they shouldn’t be too close?
I’ll definitely update later and - time permitting - I might do a trial with two boxes side by side, one with lemongrass oil and one with nassanov scent.
I’ve read all sorts of things about distance - from 5m to 200m and more. Some say the swarm will want some distance between the new and original hive so as not to compete. Others say you can plonk them as close as 5 metres.
My wild hives are (coincidentally?) equidistant from each other - about 80m apart. I’ll put two bait hives in that vicinity and the third near a stand of yellow and red gums about 250 metres away. Like you, I’m just trialing and also hope it’s a back-up if I miss my own swarm. Good point about the water access!
The feral swarms were here when I moved in and are close to mine so I’m assuming they will be ok.
Either way, I’ll be taking them away to reorient them and transfer into a full box so will look for issues then. I have no SHB here though (yet) and would have expected to see some by now if the wild hives had them.
The word on swarm attractant is, less is more - one (restrained) squirt at the entrance and one or two on top of the frames. If there’s too much it has the opposite effect. I got some swarm commander so will give it a go.
All the best and look forward to the updates! I’ll do the same.