How to Build a Bee Swarm Trap: A Complete Guide

How to Build a Bee Swarm Trap: A Complete Guide

Capturing a bee swarm is an exciting and environmentally friendly way to expand your apiary. A bee swarm trap, also known as a bait hive, effectively attracts and catches swarms without harm. This comprehensive guide will walk you through building your bee swarm trap, ensuring you're prepared to welcome new bees into your apiary.

What is A Bee Swarm Trap?

A bee swarm trap is designed to attract bee swarms searching for a new home. By mimicking the conditions of an ideal nesting site, swarm traps can lure scout bees, encouraging the swarm to move in. Effective traps are about capturing bees and ensuring their safety and ease of transfer to a permanent hive.

Materials Needed

  • Box: A wooden or sturdy cardboard box with dimensions roughly equivalent to a standard deep hive body (about 40 liters in volume) works well.
  • Frames: 2-3 old but clean frames with comb can significantly increase the attractiveness of the trap.
  • Lid: A solid lid that fits securely on the box.
  • Entrance: A small entrance of about 1 inch in diameter.
  • Swarm Lure: Swarm Commander Premium Swarm Lure 1oz GEL to enhance the trap's attractiveness.
  • Mounting Hardware: Depending on your chosen location, you may need screws, brackets, or sturdy rope.

Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Bee Swarm Trap

Step 1: Prepare the Box

Start with a clean box that has enough space to mimic a small hive (around 40 liters in volume). Ensure the box is sturdy and weather-resistant. If using wood, avoid treated lumber, as the chemicals can deter bees.

Step 2: Add Entrance and Ventilation

Drill a 1-inch hole on one side of the box about halfway up for an entrance. Additional small holes near the top can serve as ventilation, ensuring a comfortable environment for the bees.

Step 3: Insert Frames

Place 2-3 frames inside the box. Using frames with an old comb can significantly increase your trap's success, as the scent of comb is highly attractive to bees.

Step 4: Apply Swarm Lure

Apply the swarm lure inside the box, near the entrance or on the frames. This lure mimics the natural pheromones of bees, making your trap irresistible to swarms.

Step 5: Secure the Lid

Ensure the lid fits tightly to protect the swarm from weather and predators. The lid should be easy to remove to transfer the swarm to their new home.

Step 6: Choose a Location

Position your trap 8 to 15 feet off the ground in a shaded area that mimics natural hive locations. Trees, poles, or the side of a building can serve as good mounting points.

Step 7: Mount the Trap

Securely mount your trap using brackets, screws, or ropes. Ensure it is stable and will not sway or fall in the wind.

Step 8: Monitor the Trap

Check your trap every few days for signs of a swarm. Once a swarm has moved in, plan to transfer them to a permanent hive as soon as possible.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting a Bee Swarm Trap

After setting up your bee swarm trap, ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting are crucial for ensuring its success throughout the swarming season. Here are tips to keep your trap in top condition and solutions to common issues you might encounter.

Regular Checks

  • Inspect the Trap Regularly: Even if a swarm hasn't occupied the trap, check it every two weeks to ensure it's still securely mounted and hasn't been compromised by weather or animals.
  • Reapply Swarm Lure: The effectiveness of the swarm lure can diminish over time due to weather conditions and evaporation. Reapply it according to the manufacturer's recommendations, usually every few weeks during active swarming periods.
  • Check for Damage: Look for any wear or damage to the box, especially if you're using a cardboard box. Ensure the entrance and ventilation holes are clear of obstructions.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • No Bees Showing Interest: If bees are not interested in your trap, consider relocating it. Sometimes, even a short distance can make a difference. Also, ensure that the swarm lure is still potent and reapply if necessary.
  • Trap Occupied by Pests: Occasionally, other creatures like ants or wasps might be interested in your trap, mainly if it contains an old comb. Regularly check and clean the trap to avoid infestations. Consider placing it in a different location if pests persist.
  • Bees Abandoning the Trap: If bees begin to occupy the trap but then abandon it, this could indicate an issue with the trap's location or condition. Ensure it's not in direct sunlight for extended periods and that there's adequate ventilation. Verify that the lure is still in place and reapply as needed.

End-of-Season Care

  • Cleaning: Once the swarming season is over, or you've successfully caught a swarm, remove and clean the trap. If reusable, store it in a dry, protected place until the next season.
  • Reflection and Planning: Take note of what worked well and what didn't. Consider adjusting the location, the amount of lure used, or the box type for the next swarming season based on your observations and successes.

Incorporating these maintenance and troubleshooting steps into your bee swarm trapping strategy will enhance your success rate and ensure your traps are always ready for the unexpected arrival of a new swarm. Remember, beekeeping is as much about learning and adapting to the bees' needs as it is about providing them with the right conditions to thrive.


Building a bee swarm trap is a rewarding project that can help you grow your apiary sustainably. By following these steps and using effective lures like Swarm Commander Premium Swarm Lure 1oz GEL, you can increase your chances of successfully catching a swarm. Remember, patience and regular monitoring are key to catching swarms. With the right preparation and some luck, you can give a new colony a great start in their new home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bee Swarm Traps

How long does it take for a swarm to occupy a trap?

It can vary greatly, from a few days to several weeks, depending on swarm activity in your area and the attractiveness of your trap.

When is the best time to set up a swarm trap?

Early spring, just before the start of the swarming season, is ideal. This can vary depending on your local climate and bee activity.

How often should I reapply the swarm lure?

Check the manufacturer's instructions for the specific lure you are using. Generally, reapplying every few weeks during the swarming season is a good practice.

Can I use more than one type of lure in my trap?

Yes, combining different lures can sometimes increase your trap's effectiveness. However, Swarm Commander Premium Swarm Lure is specifically designed to be highly effective on its own.


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