The Complete Guide to Building and Using Swarm Traps — To Catch a Swarm

Building and Using Swarm Traps To Catch a Swarm

Imagine stepping into your backyard and witnessing a mesmerizing honey bee swarm gracefully swirling through the air, searching for a new home. 

As a beekeeper, this sight is both thrilling and promising. 

Capturing a swarm not only adds to your hive collection but also plays a crucial role in maintaining the bee population.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll take you on a journey through the art and science of building and using swarm traps. 

Whether you're a seasoned beekeeper or just starting out, you'll find valuable insights and practical steps to create an effective swarm trap. 

This ensures you're ready to welcome these remarkable creatures into their new abode.

What is a Swarm Trap?

A swarm trap is essentially a box designed to attract and capture honey bee swarms. 

It goes by various names such as swarm box, bait box, or nest box. 

Regardless of the name, the goal is the same: to lure bees into making it their new home.

The Essentials of a Good Swarm Trap

To effectively catch a swarm, your trap should have these features:

  • Cavity size of about 11 gallons (ca. 42 liters).
  • An entrance at the bottom of the box.
  • An entrance is not larger than two square inches.

These elements align with the natural preferences of honey bees when selecting a new nest site.

Building Your Swarm Trap


  • Plywood (approximately 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) thick)
  • Treated 2×4 blocks
  • Pine boards (1×8 inches (0.2 m))
  • Screws
  • Entrance disk
  • Used wax comb
  • New frames of foundation
  • Swarm Commander© or lemongrass essential oil


Step 1: Front and Back Panels

  • Cut two pieces of plywood measuring 18 inches (45.72 cm) by 20 inches (50.8 cm) for the front and back of the trap.
  • Drill a 2-inch hole at the bottom of the front panel to serve as the entrance.

Step 2: Hanger Cleats

  • Prepare two blocks from a 2×4 (1.5 inches (3.81 cm) by 3.5 inches (8.89 cm) by 4 inches (10.16 cm)).
  • Attach these blocks to the back panel, 3 inches (7.62 cm) from the top and 10 inches (25.4 cm) from the sides, using screws.

Step 3: Side Panels

  • Cut two pieces of pine board, each 18 inches (0.46 m) by 7.25 inches (0.18 m).
  • Secure these side pieces between the front and back panels.

Step 4: Frame Notch

  • Cut a notch on the top of each side panel (6/16 inches wide by 10/16 inches deep) to hold the frames inside the box.

Step 5: Bottom Board

  • Cut a piece of plywood (20 inches (0.51 m) by 8.5 inches (0.22 m)) and attach it to the bottom of the box.

Step 6: Telescoping Lid

  • Cut a piece of plywood (22.5 inches (0.57 m) by 11.25 inches (0.29 m)) for the lid.
  •  Attach 2-inch strips of pine board around the outer edge of the lid.

Step 7: Secure the Hanger

  • Cut a piece of plywood (3 inches (ca. 8 cm) by 24 inches (ca. 61 cm)) and secure it to the cleats on the back of the box to act as a hanger.

Step 8: Install Entrance Disk

  • Place the entrance disk over the entrance hole and secure it with a screw and washer.

Step 9: Add Wax & Foundation

  • Place a used wax comb in the center position inside the box.
  • Add two new frames of foundation on each side, making a total of five frames.

Step 10: Scent Lure

  • Use Swarm Commander© to increase the likelihood of attracting a swarm. Apply a small amount around the entrance and place a cotton swab dipped in Swarm Commander© inside a coin envelope. Staple the envelope to the inside of the lid.

Tips for Effective Swarm Traps

1.     Choose the Right Location

Place your swarm trap in a location that mimics natural nesting sites. 

Ideally, it should be 6–15 feet off the ground and positioned in a shaded area. This placement increases the likelihood of attracting honey bee swarms.

2.     Understand the Life Cycle of Bees

Knowing the life cycle of bees can help you time your trap setup. 

Bees often swarm in the spring and early summer, so setting your traps during these seasons maximizes your chances of success.

3.     Use High-Quality Materials

Build your trap with sturdy materials. Ensure the bee trap attractant is effective, such as using products from Swarm Commander. 

This attractant mimics the natural pheromones, making your trap more appealing to bees.

4.     Include Used Wax Comb

Bees are more likely to enter a trap that smells like a previous hive. 

Placing a used wax comb inside the trap can significantly improve your chances of capturing a swarm.

5.     Secure Your Trap Properly

Make sure your trap is securely attached to its mounting location. 

Whether you're mounting it on a tree or a building, stability is crucial to prevent disturbances that could scare away the bees.

6.     Check Regularly

Inspect your swarm trap regularly. 

This helps ensure that the trap remains in good condition and allows you to transfer captured bees to a new hive promptly.

7.     Ethical Relocation

Once you've captured a swarm, practice ethical bee hive relocation

This not only benefits your beekeeping efforts but also contributes positively to the environment.

By incorporating these tips and using products from Swarmcommander, you can effectively catch a swarm and enhance your beekeeping operations.

Order High-Quality Products From Swarm Commander

Capturing a swarm of honey bees is an exciting and rewarding experience that contributes to the health and sustainability of our bee populations. 

By following the steps outlined in this guide and incorporating the tips for effective swarm traps, you can enhance your beekeeping practices and successfully welcome new swarms into your hives. 

Remember, the key to success lies in the details – from choosing the right location to using the best materials and attractants.

For beekeepers looking to optimize their swarm-catching efforts, Swarm Commander offers a comprehensive range of products designed to attract and safely manage honey bee swarms

Our premium swarm lures and bee attractants mimic natural pheromones, significantly increasing your chances of success. 

Additionally, we provide high-quality bee suits to ensure your safety while handling bees and various other essential beekeeping products to support your operations.

Frequently Asked Questions About Setting Up A Swarm Trap

Q1. What is the best time to set up a swarm trap?

  1. The optimal time is during the swarm season, typically in spring and early summer, when bees are seeking new homes.

Q2. How high should I place my swarm trap?

  1. Position your trap 6–15 feet off the ground for the best results.

Q3. What scent attracts bees to the trap?

  1. Scents that mimic the Nasonov gland, such as Swarm Commander lures or lemongrass essential oil, are highly effective.

Q4. How often should I check my swarm trap?

  1. Inspect your trap weekly to see if it has attracted a swarm and to ensure it remains in good condition.

Q5. Can I reuse a swarm trap?

  1. Yes, you can reuse a swarm trap as long as it is in good condition and properly cleaned between uses.


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