Learning how to trap bee swarms is a useful skill to have as a beekeeper. This year, I started with two Nucs and now have 5 active hives because of swarm catching. I followed this video on how to build a swarm trap to make my swarm trap from scrap plywood and some sheet metal/flashing. I baited it with 5 frames. Two were old brood frames and the other were not drawn out but used. Smearing it with lemon grass oil completed the baiting and I hung it in a nearby tree to my hives with tie straps.
The purpose was to catch any swarms off my hives and to catch swarms that were coming from neighboring hives. In my area of Maryland, swarm season is May and early June, and I ended up catching 3 swarms with my trap in that time.
If you have beehives, it is a given that you will have swarms. In the past, I saw most of my swarms go to the top of a large tree, way too high for me to catch. This year I didn’t want to lose them and made two swarm traps over the winter and placed it in two trees on my property. Checking the two traps every other day was part of my routine and I was surprised to see bees congregating at the entrance one time. I waited for about a week to see if they would stay around and then went into action.
Since a swarm trap full of bees can be very heavy and cumbersome, it can be difficult to carry down a ladder so be careful when doing so. Once it is down, set the trap beside anempty hive body and start transferring the frames into the the hive body one by one. Feeding the new hive with sugar water is usually necessary to get them off to a good start.
Bees are expensive and you don’t want to lose the swarms that come off your hives. For an investment of about 25 dollars in materials (scrap wood, paint, flashing, and lemon grass oil), I ended up with three additional hives with very little effort.