If you missed my exciting bee swarm capture, see it here. Unfortunately the bees didn’t stay long. “Sigh”
What did I do wrong? Well, maybe nothing. I understand It helps to have some drawn comb in the hive, which sadly I had none. Last night from an experienced bee keeper I heard a trick to help the bees stay. He said to plug up the entrance to the hive for a few days, putting plenty of sugar syrup in the hive for the bees to drink. After a few days unplug the entrance and wait to see if your bees have settled in. He claims he has a 90% success rate keeping the swarms he catches. That is a pretty good success rate. I will definitely try this technique next time. In the mean time I thought it would be fun to build some swarm traps to try and attract the bees to me.
I started by ordering some pressed paper plant pots from Greenhouse Megastore.com (I got 12″ x 13″) . I searched all over town but didn’t find a local source for them. They were very inexpensive at $3.50 a piece, however the shipping cost was as much as the total price of the pots. “grrrr” So if you can find a local source the total price for the swarm traps would probably be less. The project is still pretty reasonable at $20.00 for 2 swarm traps.
After I got my pots I sprayed them with a water sealer, so that they will hopefully last for several seasons. Let the pots dry for 24 hours. While you are waiting you can start wiring your top bars or frames to go in your trap. I have a top bar hive so I drilled a hole in the top of each bar and wove the wire through. String the bars together, cross the wire over the top and fashion a loop to hang the trap from. Frames with foundation in them would be easy to wire up also for a Langstroth hive. I used 3 top bars, don’t forget to rub bees wax on them before putting them in the trap.
Now that your pots are dry it is time to plug up all those holes in the bottom. Wine corks work for this beautifully. Warning: if you don’t have a collection of wine corks, don’t use this as an excuse to drink all that wine by yourself. I am impatient, but not that impatient. However it might be a great time to have a bee swarm party complete with tapas and lots of wine! Seven bottles of wine to be exact. Who ever said gardening wasn’t exciting and fun? It might be a good time to introduce the concept of bees to your neighbors! Once you have had fun acquiring your 7 corks, wedge them in the holes in the bottom of your pots. Leave one hole open for the entrance. If you don’t drink wine, than expanding foam can work well too, but sounds like a lot less fun to me.
Before you seal up your trap, put lemon grass oil in to attract the bees. Apparently it smells something like a queen? Not sure on this ,but I do know this is the bait of choice. I borrowed some essential oil from a friend and dripped a bit on a Q-tip. Placing it in a partially closed zip lock bag is a good idea so that your oil won’t evaporate before it has a chance to attract some bees. I, of course, forgot to put my lemon grass oil in until I had the whole trap neatly sealed shut. No worries, I was able to tuck it in the entrance hole.
It is time to seal up your swarm trap and hang it up in a tree. Position your top bars or frame in the trap, leaving the wire loop coming out in between both pots. Use 1 inch dry wall screws to attach the two pots together around the rims. There you have it; a cheap, easy and fun(depending on the wine drinking party) way to attract free bees!
One last thing to do before hanging your hive. We found that the seam in the middle was, well, to put it in my boy’s words “sketchy.” A thin line of Gorilla Glue did the trick. Expanding foam would probably work also. Gorilla Glue expands as it dries to fill the gap between the pots nicely. I am not sure how hard it will be to get apart once bees are in it, but I am thinking a sharp knife along the seam will do the trick. Here is hoping that I get some bees and get to try it out. The screws would have to come out also, before the bees can be installed in their permanent home; my hive.
Where to hang your trap? Well I am no expert, but from my research I have gleaned that the edge of a field in plain sight is a good place. Blooming flowers near by and a water source never hurt your chances either. You would naturally think that a hidden shady place would be just the thing bees would look for,but apparently that is not the case.
In plain sight, bathed in morning sun is what they are after. Large forks in trees that are 15-20 feet off the ground are said to be at the ideal height. So attach something heavy to the end of your rope, throw it over a branch and pull your hive up. Secure it to the trunk of the tree.
“The best laid plans of mice and men.” When we raised our swarm trap into the tree it was perfect, except for the swaying motion created by the wind! Not sure the bees would be interested in being rocked, not so gently, constantly! I am thinking probably the answer is, no. After some consideration we decided to lash the trap to the tree branch. This involved boy scout knots and a ladder. Not to mention a fearless young man, who lives for just such a time as this! Thank you, Cam!
Check your swarm trap every few days to see if there is any bee activity around it. If you get a swarm of bees in your trap, please, please let me know and I will do a happy dance on my end while you do a happy dance on yours! Don’t be in too much of a hurry to move them because they are much more likely to stay if you can install them in your hive with drawn out comb with baby bee larvae in it. They are not likely to leave those babies or honey for that matter. That is why this swarm trap is so clever, because it has the frame or top bar already in it for the bees to build on. Hopefully it will make for an easier transition to your hive and make it more likely that the bees will stay. Don’t forget to ask God for your bees. The wind and waves still know His name!
This post was shared at http://oursimplelife-sc.com/simple-homestead-blog-hop-50/