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Lures and Traps For Catching Bees


I’m looking at setting up a new hive soon. I’ve read a few articles on trying to lure bees into a hive or trap.

To me it seems like a long shot that a swarm will come past and decide my trap is a good home. Has anyone got any good pointers or traps to recommend to make this work?

Hive swarmed, Connecticut, USA
Bees before or after Flow Hive arrives?

I am planning on using a nucleus hive with a few frames with wax foundation along with some drops of either Lemon grass oil or a bee pheromone called Swarm Commander (Nasonov), the idea is to place this around head height in a tree within the vicinity of a known beehive or colony around springtime or the end of August in Australia. I have heard that if a swarm is in the area, there is a good chance they’ll find your box, but its not guaranteed…


Thanks @Rodderick, if I don’t find any swarms to catch in the meantime I’ll give this a go. Let us know how you go when spring rolls around.


One of the best resources I’ve ever read on understanding swarm behavior is Tom Seeley’s “Honeybee Democracy”.

He explains what it is the cluster’s scouts are looking for in a new home. How the cluster receives that information and uses it to decide on which of the several candidates found to choose. And, has the data to back it up. Good info on trap shape, volume, placement and baiting. Besides, it’s simply a good read on ‘getting into the mind’ of a colony in it’s own right.


Hi Rodderick, if you have some drawn out comb that appeals to swarms too. I usually put a few drops of lure on a cotton ball and place it in the back of the swarm box on top of the frames. Then as an extra touch I rub it around the entry :slight_smile: The best of luck to you. It is a thrill every time an empty box is suddenly filled.


I have about 3 months to get my swarm traps in place, all good into.


The easiest way is to contact your local exterminator and tell him you are looking for a swarm. People usually contact the exterminator first when there is a swarm on their property. Most exterminators will gladly help responsible hobbyists.


So true, but in my area and others the exterminator are training there technicians that treat to kill bugs how to traps and save honey bees.


What a fantastic idea!!! Wow, such ingenious folks in this forum.


An old brood comb is a good attractant, add a few foundation less frames with just a starter strip and dose top bars and entrance with lemongrass oil. You need a volume of about 40 litres, a solid floor and a small entrance. Put the box up in a tree. Best of luck


This is a mixture I found on the net-have not tried it yet so I don’t know if it works or not.

Mixed 1/4 cup olive oil, a wad of beeswax (1/2 of a sheet of foundation), and about 20 drops of lemongrass oil. I heated the mixture together in a glass measuring cup that I placed in a pan of boiling water. Once it was all melted together, I poured it into a small foil bread mold we had in the cabinet. It solidified into a smearable paste in about 5 minutes.

Building traps to capture swarms

Hi Jake, after much thought & consideration, this is what I think. You need to think like a scout bee looking for a suitable home for her swarm. Your lure has to compete with all the other suitable hive sites. #1. the site must have good internal dimensions with room for the colony to grow into. #2 It must provide adequate shelter from the elements & #3 it must provide good protection from predators like bears & honey badgers. I’m thinking a tall square box with a vertical slit down low & mounted fairly high. Use lemongrass oil & bee pheromones, wax, whatever it takes to trick the bees into thinking it was previously occupied by bees. Good luck with that. cheers


Hi Rod, your nuk box sounds ok for a small swarm, but if you want to catch a big swarm, you should think about a bigger box, like fishing, if you want big fish, use big bait.


Agree Jeff, a Nuc is not such a great idea, will be using a full size box.


I’m getting my gear ready for all the splits I’m going to do, which starts pretty early up here. I generally start checking mine late July, brass monkey month & I’m exercising swarm control.


Ideal size opening is 15cm² approx 1 3/4" diameter, and 8-12’ off the ground


I thought that it would be worth mentioning here that placing drawn out frames of comb into bait hives is illegal in Australia according to the Australian Apiary code of practice. Reason being it promotes robbing and the spread of disease.


If there’s nothing in them there would be no reason for bees to rob surely. The idea is to put in old brood comb with NO stores whatsoever.


Empty brood comb is fine for bait hives in Australia… so long as it did not come from a diseased hive e.g. AFB


Hi Rodderick,

Actually, he is correct - new laws coming in (currently in Draft, Victoria voted yes, not sure on other states) which will cover all states in Australia - Foundation only, no comb!:

6.3 A swarm catch box must only contain foundation (not honey or honeycomb) and must be clearly and legibly marked with the beekeeper’s allocated hive identification code.


William Rogers
The Bunyip Beekeeper