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The Ultimate Guide To Build A Bee Swarm Trap At Less than 5$




How To Build A Bee Swarm Trap

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The easiest way to catch bees is by using a bee swarm trap. Finding a proper guide to build a bee swarm trap is really crucial. That’s what I am going to provide you from my 7 years of beekeeping experience. 

Expert beekeepers like me enjoy catching bee swarms to expand apiaries. Catching bees is not like catching fish. You can’t go to catch a bee swarm from a tree or from any random place without having any prior knowledge. It could be very dangerous for you.

Because if you try to interact with bees without any experience, they won’t hesitate to attack you with their entire force.

However, using a bee swarm trap will reduce the risk to an absolute minimum. You will find a lot of different types of bee swarm-catching traps at various online stores. Maybe you can also purchase it from your local beekeeping associations.

But in this post, I am going to guide you on how you can make a bee swarm trap with absolutely minimum cost. The swarm-catching trap we are going to build will cost no more than only 5$.




Step By Step Guide To Build The Bee Swarm Trap

Bee swarms appear mainly during the reproductive cycle when the colony extends most. The beehive becomes unable to give enough space for the entire colony. That’s why the queen sends the scout bees to find a suitable location for a new nest.

After finding a suitable location the queen swarms with a portion of the colony or even the entire colony to build their new nests.

A swarm trap will be very effective in catching a swarm by attracting them. But the swarm trap should be built in such a manner that it becomes very attractive for the bee swarm.

We will require only 4 elements to build our bee swarm trap.

  1. A Polystyrene box.
  2. Tiny swarm lure or lemongrass oil.
  3. Small round-shaped steel metal.
  4. 1 or 2 empty or beeswax-containing frames.

You should have a polystyrene box. You can get it from fishmongers and plenty of other sources.

Polystyrene Box

A polystyrene box is used to keep things cool inside the box. It should be a 30 to 40-liter box. I have used a 34-liter polystyrene box purchased from local fishmongers to build my swarm trap. Make sure it has a movable top cover.



But if you couldn’t manage a polystyrene box you can use an abandoned beehive box in this case. It will be a great alternative to a polystyrene box.

Now let’s create our bee swarm trap with simple steps.

  • Step-1: Take the polystyrene box or abandoned beehive box whatever you are using and open its top cover.
  • Step-2: You should create a hole at one side of the box. The hole should be similar to a beehive entrance. You can easily create it in the polystyrene box using hive tools. Place a round-shaped steel metal having a hole greater or equal size to the hole size at the box. You can use a spring and stick it as shown in the picture below so that it can be movable.
  • Step-3: Now place the tiny swarm lure inside the box at the bottom of the box. You can stick the swarm lure at the bottom of the box with the help of glue or anything similar. You can also use beeswax, old brood combs, or propolis as an alternative to swarm lure to reduce the cost. Make sure the propolis or beeswax isn’t melted. For better results, I would suggest you purchase a small swarm lure from a local shop or from an online store. The small swarm lure can be found as low cost as 2$.
  • Step-4: Now put 1 or 2 frames inside the box. If the frame is not fit properly inside the box. Just cut a little of it so that it fits. Only 1 frame is well enough. But if you can manage 2 frames you can also use these 2 frames. You can also add not more than one tablespoon of honey to it. It’s totally optional.
Step By Step Guide To Make A Bee Swarm Trap
Step By Step Guide To Make A Bee Swarm Trap


  • Step-5: Now close the top cover of the box. That’s it your swarm trap is ready to use now.

The total cost to make this bee swarm trap is really low. You can get the polystyrene box from fishmongers and from plenty of other sources in your region at a very cheap price. Hopefully, It won’t cost more than half a dollar.


You can even make an entrance cover on your own using the unused metals in your home which won’t cost anything. You can even purchase one similar kind of thing from any local shop at a cost of around 0.2$.

If you have an apiary you can use your own frames. Or you can get an old frame from your local beekeepers in your region.

So, the main cost is swarm lure. The price of swarm lure varies. It is actually made with lemon grass oil and other essential oil mixtures. That’s why it really attracts bees. You can either purchase a swarm lure or lemongrass oil to use as bait.

Cost Of Making The Bee Swarm Trap


The swarm lure is very important for catching bees because it produces a smell almost similar to the pheromones released by the queen. That’s why the swarm will be attracted toward the trap.

So, our bee swarm trap is successfully created. Now let’s answer some questions that probably going through your mind about creating this swarm trap.




What Are The Dimensions Of A Bee Swarm Trap?

Usually, the swarm trap dimensions are 12×20×8 inches. Though its dimensions vary depending on the use and the type of bees you are going to catch. As we are going to catch a random swarm my suggestion is to take the box having a minimum of 8 inches in height, 12 inches in width, and 20 inches in length.




How Deep Should A Swarm Trap Be?

The swarm trap should have a depth of 8 to inches. Not more or less than that. Because bees won’t be attracted to the trap if it is not deep enough to accommodate the colony of bees. Also, if the trap is too deep it will become difficult for the bees to access it. That’s why you should be careful about the depth of a swarm trap.



What Size Hole Is Best For a Swarm Trap?

The hole size should be large enough for the bees to enter and exit but not too large. The ideal size of the hole is one and a half inches in diameter for a honey bee swarm trap. 

If you are going to catch bumble bees the hole size should be 1 cm in diameter. The diameter can be up to 2 cm if you are going to catch carpenter bees.

The main concern is to make the hole exactly similar to the entrance of a beehive.




How Many Frames Should You Put In A Swarm Trap?

I usually use not more than 2-3 frames inside a swarm trap. But most beekeepers put 3-5 frames in a swarm trap.

The number of frames to put inside the trap depends on the type of trap and its size you are going to use.




Should You Put A Frame Of Honey In A Swarm Trap?

You can put a small amount of honey (not more than one tablespoon) on a frame inside a swarm trap. Because the sweet smell of honey will attract bees toward the trap. But you don’t need to put a frame containing plenty of honey in a swarm trap.

Also, it is not mandatory to put a frame of honey in a swarm trap. The swarm lure is well enough to attract bees.




Do Bee Swarm Traps Work?

Yes, in maximum cases bee swarm traps will really work to catch a swarm. But there is no guarantee that the trap will work in every situation. The success rate of the bee swarm trap will be maximum if you can use it in an effective manner.

Swarm Trap

Bee swarm trap Credit: Edward Terrana

The bee swarm trap is usually created by making it attractive to bees. When a bee swarm is traveling near the trap it will get attracted.

So, if the swarm is looking for a new hive, it will easily select the trap as its new home and will be caught in the trap.




How To Use A Bee Swarm Trap?

After creating the bee swarm trap you won’t expect to get bees by putting it anywhere.

To increase the chances of catching a swarm you should know how to use a bee swarm properly. You should properly set up the bee swarm trap and place it in a suitable location.




How Do You Set Up A Swarm Trap For Bees?

The bee swarm trap setup should be done by following the steps below.

  1. Find A Suitable Location: You should select the perfect location for your swarm trap where bee swarms can be passed. A flower garden or tree branch would be best for placing the trap.
  2. Make The Trap Attractive: Don’t forget to use a lure to make the trap attractive to bees. To make the swarm lure attractive use essential oils like lemongrass oil.
  3. Place It In A Suitable Location: You should place the trap in a suitable location like on a branch of a tree or any similar kind of location.




Where To Place The Swarm Trap?

You should place the swarm trap at least 10 feet above the ground. The best location to place a swarm trap is at the branch of a tree.

Bees won’t like to create their nest close to the ground. That’s why you should put the swarm trap 10-20 feet above the ground to attract a swarm.

Perfect Location To Place A Bee Swarm Trap
Perfect Location To Place A Bee Swarm Trap [Credit: Edward Terrana]

The perfect place for the swarm trap is a branch of a tree. You can hang it on the branch of the tree by using a strong rope or wire.

You can place it even on the rooftop of your house. It would be better if there have some flowering plants in flowerpots.



What Is The Best Height For A Swarm Trap?

The best height for a swarm trap is 15 to 20 feet above the ground. The swarm trap height can vary depending on the type of trap and the type of bees you are going to catch.

So, learn your requirements first carefully and then determine the right height for your swarm trap. My recommendation is to try to place the trap at various heights with time to see which height works best for you. 




How Often Should I Check My Swarm Traps?

You should check the swarm trap frequently depending on the season and the location you are living. In the swarming season, you can check the trap 2 to 3 times per week. While in the other season, you can check the trap once every 1 or 2 weeks.

Also, if in your region there are less amount of bees then you may check the trap once within 15 days. But if your region has more amount of bee swarms then you have to check it more frequently.

But never overdo it. You should maintain a minimum gap of 2 days before checking your swarm trap. Otherwise, bees may get disturbed and will avoid your trap.

Also, you must follow the hive inspection rule even for inspection of the bee swarm trap. If you open a swarm trap having a swarm inside when it should not be opened, bees may swarm away.




How Long Does It Take For Bees To Find A Swarm Trap?

It can take a few days to several weeks for the bees to find a swarm trap. The required amount of days for bees to find a swarm trap may vary depending on the placement of the tap and the current season.

The scout bees were sent by the colony to look for a new hive a few days or weeks before leaving their current hive. As soon as the scout bees select the bee trap as their new home they send this message to their colony.

After receiving the message the other bees will swarm and come to the trap within a few hours to a few days or even weeks.




How Long Can You Leave Bees In A Swarm Trap?

You shouldn’t leave bees in a swarm trap for more than one week. You should check the swarm trap once or twice per week.

Actually, the amount of times bees can live inside a swarm trap depends on the availability of food and weather conditions.

If you live bees inside a swarm trap for a long time there is a high chance of being swarmed away from the swarm trap. If they have any scarcity of food they won’t stay there and will leave the trap.

When a swarm is got caught you should provide them with enough food in order to keep them inside the trap for a few days.




What To Do After Catching A Bee Swarm Using A Swarm Trap?

You shouldn’t leave a bee swarm for a long time inside a swarm trap. Because if the bees have any scarcity they won’t waste any time inside the trap. They will leave the trap when they find any trouble living there.

Also, if there is rain, storm, or bad weather then bees will swarm away and will look for a better & safer place.

So, never think of making the swarm trap a permanent home for the bees. You should transfer the bees to a permanent location within a couple of weeks if they get caught.

If possible move them to their permanent home as soon as possible after they got caught.  




How To Transfer Bees From A Bee Swarm Trap To A Beehive

The bee transferring process from a swarm trap to a beehive is almost similar to transferring bees from a nuc to a hive. But in this case, you have to be extra careful. Make sure you have taken proper protective gear. Then follow the steps below.

  1. Use a bee smoker to calm your bees.
  2. Then open the beehive top cover which is going to be the permanent residence of the trapped bees.
  3. Now put 5-6 empty frames inside the hive.
  4. Take the trap box above the beehive and open its top cover.
  5. Now pull the box upside down above the beehive and without wasting any time give some shake to the box. 
  6. After giving a few good shakes maximum amount of bees will be inside the beehive.
  7. If you found any bees inside the trap just tap on the box by keeping it upside down to force them to enter the beehive. 

During the process, some bees may fly away. But don’t worry they will come to the beehive on their own within a few moments.




Frequently Asked Questions


Do bee swarm traps work?

A bee swarm trap definitely works if you can make it attractive for the swarm. Also, you must place the trap in a suitable location where a swarm might be around.

What attracts bees to a trap?

Swarm lure or bait. Placing a swarm lure or lemongrass oil in the swarm trap will attract bees to the trap. The trap dimension also needs to be accurate for attracting a swarm.

What Is The Size Of A Bee Swarm?

Usually, the size of a bee swarm is in the range of a few thousand. Bee swarm size can vary depending on the type of bees and some other factors. The size of a honey bee swarm is usually around 10 thousand.

What Is The Success Rate Of A Swarm Trap?

Swarm trap has a success rate of above 80% if it is used properly. Actually, the success rate of a swarm trap depends on the season, location, and design of the trap. During spring to early summer, the swarm trap success rate will be maximum.




Final Words About The Bee Swarm Trap & Helpful Resources

Hopefully, now you have the proper knowledge on how you can make a bee swarm trap on your own at absolutely minimum cost. Using the swarm trap properly you will be able to catch bees for free to expand or kick off your apiary.



Helpful Resources

  • Check this to learn important beekeeping terms.
  • J. O. Schmidt, “Hierarchy of Attractants for Honey Bee Swarms,” Published: July 2001. To read this check this.
  • A. Zacepins, A. Kviesis, V. Komasilovs, and R. Brodschneider, “When It Pays to Catch a Swarm—Evaluation of the Economic Importance of Remote Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Colony Swarming Detection,” Published: 4 October 2021. Read this.



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