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Trapping advice in brood box


Brand new to all of this but trying to trap bees in an unused flow brood box with a little lemongrass oil. I have had a colony in a tree for several years about 50m away and most years they swarm near the house trying to get in except now all the holes are filled up. Set the box on a 2m platform near the old house entry point 2 weeks ago and reduced opening by 80%. A few days later about a dozen scouts were checking it out for about an hour but they have since disappeared. Is it better to move the box closer to the tree colony or do something else?


Hiya w8man, welcome to the forum.
Using some frames with old empty brood comb on it would have helped however if the bees have moved on its possibly too late.
I’m currently in the process of putting an extension onto a tree colony I have here. My plan is not to trap out and have received some encouraging info from another forum on how to do it. If all goes to plan I can use this colony to supply frames of brood to help weak colonys or start new colonys.
If your colony in the tree isn’t too high you could do the same. Not sure what part of the world you are in but as your bees are swarming I would assume Southern Hemisphere.


Thanks Skeggley, Yes tree opening is very close to the ground and I am in Central Victoria, Australia. Did not have any comb to use but do you have the link to the other information please?

I would rather use local bees than a nuc from elsewhere so open to trying anything. The tree cavity does not look that large, maybe only half the size of the brood box so wondered if its days were numbered? Any and all ideas welcomed!


Did you only see scout bees, or had the colony swarmed? I have swarm boxes/traps set up & 3 feral colonies of bees. After I set up the traps i had interest in them all, but it stopped after a couple of days (it did recur however through couple of weeks prior to them swarming). However once the bees swarmed that interest was renewed & dramatically increased. I didn’t wait for them to go in though, I caught the swarm once it had settled & before it took off to permanent home.
They will usually settle in the same tree or location when they do swarm, which helps towards preparing to catch them. Also I noticed that the lemongrass may only last a week, depending on the weather, so can top up or put on cotton bud in a small sealed plastic bag. If you don’t have old brood comb, I think a frame of foundation helps contribute to the bee aroma inside the box.
The cavity in the tree might be bigger than you think inside?


Sure w8man it’s called a Hogan bee trap, thought up by a bloke called Cleo (Whimpy) Hogan who has generously shared a 12 page document with many including myself. It is a bit of messing around and I’m planning on putting my own twist on it which may or may not work. Cleos trap is tried and proven.
You will need another hive body though


G’day w8man, you could probably extract the bees out of the tree with just a frame of brood containing lots of young larvae & a few frames with fresh foundation. All you need to do is set up a trap out early in the morning, as the bees return & find they can’t go back into the tree, they’ll soon climb onto the frame of brood that you have sitting next to the trap out & quickly forget about going back into the tree. Once you have a really good covering of bees on that frame of brood, place that frame of brood inside a box with a decent size entrance situated as close as possible to the trap out. What will happen then is you’ll get a gradual exiting of bees out of the tree & a gradual increase of bees into your box. Be sure to do this during good weather when lots of bees will be out foraging. Every day when a new lot of bees come out to do their orientation flights will be especially helpful for your hives population.

Just check the trap out on a daily basis to make sure no dead bees are blocking the exit & that the bees aren’t using the trap out exit as an entrance. Also make sure the bees don’t find another exit in the tree.


I decided to do a cutout as the opening was very close to the ground and have managed to get a lot of comb into several frames. I carefully searched for the queen on every comb I removed but no luck so far. The tree hole was quite large and had a lot of thick comb at the back full of honey but removed pretty much everything getting into a rather sticky mess! Lastly I left the brood box in front of the tree, added some lemongrass oil and left it to get lunch. There was a fair bit of swarming in several places, they did not seem to like the smoke much and I got a fair bit of attention for my intrusion (but the bee suit worked well, except for the thumb loops which cut off my circulation!).

I am seeking further advice as to next steps and have wondered about:
-blocking up the tree opening completely
-harvesting the bucket of leftover comb heavy with honey
-still trying to find the queen
-adding the honey super second story as I doubt if they will all fit in just the brood box

Am I on the track or should I be doing something different?


I think your on the right track. If the queen is in the brood box, the rest of the bees should go into the brood box. I would add the second box if you think there’s not enough room for all of the bees in one. Constricting the bees too much can trigger swarming.

I wouldn’t look for the queen, only evidence in 3 days time. Look for new eggs or emergency queen cells.

You can crush & strain the bucket load of honey.

Make sure you leave a bee space right around all of the frames to prevent beetles laying eggs. Keep the floor free of debris for the same reason.


Thanks for that. Is there any chance the queen will hang around the bucket of honeycomb as I would not want to squish her by accident? Also what is the simplest method as it has gone fairly hunky with dead bees etc and I have no equipment?


Yes Kirsten the hole in the tree was a lot bigger than first thought and went down about a foot below ground level!


The queen could be in the bucket of comb but I wouldn’t worry about it. Just look in 3 days for new eggs or queen cells.

What I do is wear a plastic glove. Hold each piece of comb with the hand with the glove & with the other hand, flick the dead bees off with a knife. I fill 4 liter ice cream containers with the bee free comb & warm it up in the microwave so that the wax comes to the top. After the wax cools, I pour the honey through a strainer into a bucket. The microwave mustn’t do any harm to the honey because it still crystallizes. That IS a labor of love, but that’s what I do.


Will give this a try and block up the tree opening completely after smoking out the remaining bees. Hopefully more will go into the brood box if there is no alternative?


Tree hole blocked and second story on. Wiped comb all over the flow frames and left a gap along the top so they seem to be interested so far. No big swarming so far just “gathering” on the tree, the cut tree pieces and bucket with leftover honeycomb gunk, as well as front of brood box. Will try the microwave harvesting shortly.


Hi, how far from the tree is the hive? You probable should have the hive entrance as close as possible to the old tree entrance. Once the bees are well & truly working the hive entrance, start moving it away from the tree. Backwards is ideal because you can move the hive backwards, say 2 feet at a time. All the bees have to do is fly 2 more feet & they’re at the entrance.


Hard to see in the photo but box sitting on bottom of tree less than 2 feet from old entrance. Thanks for tip about gradually moving and to clarify do I move it in the direction of their old flight path or not? Is backwards away from the tree as this was there previous flight path.

Nightime shot of half or more bees 7ft off ground, 18 inches long, 8 inches wide and about 15 bees deep. Wonder if queen is inside and if I should try to catch more of them to put in box? If so what is the best time of day and technique to integrate into the box?


I bet she is. What is under that cluster? Is there a hole in the tree?


Tree is solid under cluster and there are no holes. Wonder about brushing them into big bucket and leaving it near opening of my box. It’s dawn here now so would this be a good time?


Yes, excellent time. They may recluster on the tree tonight though. If so, next time you might have to move them to your final hive site as soon as you have them boxed.


Great and I got 80% of them in the bucket and waiting for some other bees to move around from inside my box before opening the lid. I did get an alternative suggestion about moving the box 2 feet a day but my final resting place is only 100 feet away so your method may work better?


Not if it is only 100 feet. Would be fine if it was 3km… :flushed: I would stick with the 2 feet per day, but this sounds like it is going to be a long labour of love. :blush: