Swarm Box / Bait Hive Prep

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Jon.21

House Bee
Joined
Aug 13, 2021
Messages
135
Reaction score
64
Location
Derby, UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
4
Hi,
This year I acquired 2off swarms in 14x12 bs honey bees nuc box I used as a bait hive. 2off different boxes same position at different times of the year.
No frames were in the boxes and I basically scurrried out after the swarms arrived to put frames with foundation in.

Next year I’m going to be away for a few weeks in march April so thinking about how to change my approach as I won’t be there to put frames in so I’m thinking about putting frames in without foundation and just started strips on wire. This way I retain the space in the hive to entice them in and then where they arrive they will be above to draw out comb on the frames down from the starter strips.

Couple of questions…. is this the right way to go ? Secondly what’s the best way to punch the holes in the frames ?
Cheers
Jon
 
What I do is one wired starter strip frame against a wall, then an old brooded frame then two more wired frames.
How long are you away for?
 
3 weeks from mid march. One of the swarms I caught drew out three frames in a week so hence why I’m thinking I need to set it up so they can draw them all out.
 
If you are really worried that four frames aren't enough you could put a frame of foundation between the wall and the first wired frame
 
they're not stupid - they will just as readily colonise a hive with foundation in - how do you think they appraise previously occupied cavities with old comb in situ?
 
I just put foundationless in with wooden starter strips I run off from offcuts on the table saw.
Decent comb is too wasteful to use in bait hives and I wouldn't want them wasting resources on old rubbish that's going on the composter .
Old frame scrapings stink up the box with wax and propolis.
Works a treat
They can stay in there whilst I sort out permanent accommodation provided they're making an effort.
If they draw any comb it can go with them but little lobes stay in the box for the next lot.
 
I tried putting out bait hives over several years some time back and had no success, but I didn't really know what I ought to be attempting to provide in the way of a honeybee des res and was really just winging it.

This year I decided to have another go mostly based on information I read here. I made a combined floor and entrance -- basically like a 50mm eke with a flat piece of ply sheet for a floor, and a 38mm diameter hole (because I had a hole saw that size and it's close enough to what we're led to believe is "optimal") in one of the sides. I put a nail vertically through the centre of the hole in an attempt to stop any birds getting in. On top of that I put either a standard national brood box or two national supers (plus the obvious stuff like crown board, roof etc.).

Inside I put a brood frame of skanky old comb (one of the frames I'd rotated out of existing hives earlier in the year, whacked in the freezer for a day or two) at the back (opposite the entrance hole) and then filled the rest of the box with brood new frames that I'd put starter strips in and "wired" with fishing line. I put a couple of drops of lemongrass oil on the top of the old frame. There appear to be various plant sources for lemongrass oil and not all are the same (though it's possible the bees perceive them to be sufficiently similar, I don't know). I used one made from Cymbopogon Citratus.

I believe the recommendation is to put the bait hives in a shaded location with the entrance facing south, preferably about 5m high. I put most on stands that are probably only about 30cm high and one on top of the flat roof of a shed that's about 2m high. All faced south to south-west and were in full sun.

All, some or none of this may be necessary to get the best chance of scouts deciding that the hive is their most desirable option for a new home (in fact I know it's not necessary -- we all know bees will move in anywhere they think is an appropriate size, or sometimes not even that), but despite putting my bait hives out relatively late I had several swarms turn up in different locations within a matter of days. I moved one of them (from the shed roof) elsewhere, put another bait hive in the same location and a second swarm arrived within the week.

So you can read into that what you will :) I'm certainly not going to claim that you need to do any of it. I surely may have just got lucky. But for this year at least, it seems to have done the job for me.

James
 
For well over 30 years of beekeeping I got nothing in a bait hive (a bit like my efforts at fishing). However this past 3 years I have a bait hive with an old wax frame and book a week's fishing holiday to Orkney at the end of May. I leave my wife to it and as sure as eggs are eggs within 24 hours of arrival at the Barony Hotel I get the call that a swarm has joined her. My fishing has also been more productive too. She is a wonderful wife and I am now prepared to retain her, the swarms and the fishing holiday ad infinitum.
 
If I capture a prime swarm I always try to remove it and replace the box within a few days as I often get a caste swarm about a week later.
 
Was working on the basis that for bees to assess the size of the space….drawn out combs would mess that up and make it appear smaller than it was. Watched a lot of YouTube videos and in general the recommendation is to have an empty box rather than fill it with frames and foundation. The 2 swarms I caught both had drawn out comb within 2 to 3 days with eggs present so I’m thinking these were prime swarms so the 14x12 seems to be working at attracting the good prime swarms. Queens were unmarked and so I marked them. One was jet black and and the other one was a bright colour just like my F1 buckfast in one of my other colonies.

Is a drill the best way to put holes in the frames so I can wire them Up? Or is there a tool for the job that would be better and /or easier ?
 
I tried putting out bait hives over several years some time back and had no success, but I didn't really know what I ought to be attempting to provide in the way of a honeybee des res and was really just winging it.

This year I decided to have another go mostly based on information I read here. I made a combined floor and entrance -- basically like a 50mm eke with a flat piece of ply sheet for a floor, and a 38mm diameter hole (because I had a hole saw that size and it's close enough to what we're led to believe is "optimal") in one of the sides. I put a nail vertically through the centre of the hole in an attempt to stop any birds getting in. On top of that I put either a standard national brood box or two national supers (plus the obvious stuff like crown board, roof etc.).

Inside I put a brood frame of skanky old comb (one of the frames I'd rotated out of existing hives earlier in the year, whacked in the freezer for a day or two) at the back (opposite the entrance hole) and then filled the rest of the box with brood new frames that I'd put starter strips in and "wired" with fishing line. I put a couple of drops of lemongrass oil on the top of the old frame. There appear to be various plant sources for lemongrass oil and not all are the same (though it's possible the bees perceive them to be sufficiently similar, I don't know). I used one made from Cymbopogon Citratus.

I believe the recommendation is to put the bait hives in a shaded location with the entrance facing south, preferably about 5m high. I put most on stands that are probably only about 30cm high and one on top of the flat roof of a shed that's about 2m high. All faced south to south-west and were in full sun.

All, some or none of this may be necessary to get the best chance of scouts deciding that the hive is their most desirable option for a new home (in fact I know it's not necessary -- we all know bees will move in anywhere they think is an appropriate size, or sometimes not even that), but despite putting my bait hives out relatively late I had several swarms turn up in different locations within a matter of days. I moved one of them (from the shed roof) elsewhere, put another bait hive in the same location and a second swarm arrived within the week.

So you can read into that what you will :) I'm certainly not going to claim that you need to do any of it. I surely may have just got lucky. But for this year at least, it seems to have done the job for me.

James
Sounds like you did similar to what I’m proposing and good to hear it was successful. There’s nothing like the anticipation of seeing scout bees at the entrance then suddenly seeing a swarm arrive.
 
Was working on the basis that for bees to assess the size of the space….drawn out combs would mess that up and make it appear smaller than it was. Watched a lot of YouTube videos and in general the recommendation is to have an empty box rather than fill it with frames and foundation. The 2 swarms I caught both had drawn out comb within 2 to 3 days with eggs present so I’m thinking these were prime swarms so the 14x12 seems to be working at attracting the good prime swarms. Queens were unmarked and so I marked them. One was jet black and and the other one was a bright colour just like my F1 buckfast in one of my other colonies.

Is a drill the best way to put holes in the frames so I can wire them Up? Or is there a tool for the job that would be better and /or easier ?

You can get a hole punch that does it.
This summer I ran out of side-bars sufficient to make enough spare frames to fill a bait box. I did have a few unused top bars and put them in with spacers, thus giving a void that was partially unimpeded by wood or wire. There were a few full frames with strips of foundation and one older, drawn frame. The bees created some lovely comb from the top-bars and I had no crossed comb in the box.
 
You can get a hole punch that does it.
This summer I ran out of side-bars sufficient to make enough spare frames to fill a bait box. I did have a few unused top bars and put them in with spacers, thus giving a void that was partially unimpeded by wood or wire. There were a few full frames with strips of foundation and one older, drawn frame. The bees created some lovely comb from the top-bars and I had no crossed comb in the box.
Thanks. Any suggestions where to get a hole punch ? Beekeeping shop or should I be looking at a hardware store ?
 
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