Bait Hives

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Bait Hives

Steve's Bees
Published by Steve Jacklin in Beginning Beekeeping · Monday 06 Jun 2022
Tags: BaitHivesattractbeesbackyardsimpleeffectivelureswarmstarthive.

Bait Hives

A Bait Hive is something that every responsible beekeeper should have in their arsenal.
So, what is a Bait Hive. Well, a Bait Hive is essential just an old hive that is past its useful working life, but it still has one advantage. Its smells of Bees and as anybody who has been beekeeping for a long time, they know that Bees are attracted Bees. The Hives I use (I have two) are both in the region of 80 years old. I can tell they are that old by the design. They stopped making that design in the second world war as wood was on short supply and this design used too much wood. Saying that these two hives I have where my first hives and came to me probably 4th hand.
Why do I set them up if they are just going to attract more Bees? Well, it is part of being a responsible Beekeeper. When a Swarm first leaves the hive, it rests up to about 150m away from the hive in a cluster, which is the big ball of bees you see hanging in a tree. While they are resting scout bees are flying off looking for a new home this is not necessarily a new hive but could be in someone’s roof, chimney, cavity in wall. All they need is a void of about 40 litres. This is not a desirable situation because once they move into a building you normally have to do quite significant demolition work to actually remove them, and it can cost a considerable amount of money. So, setting up a Bait Hive attracts the Swarms and hopefully stops them going into Buildings. It also means that if I miss a Queen Cell and my hive in the Garden Swarms I have a chance of catching the swarm before it leaves the garden.
How do I set them up? If you read the books, it should just be an old box with nothing in it, but Bees do not read the Books. I just use an old hive and I fill it with old comb, but that is not always enough. I also soak a tissue in lemon grass oil and put that in as well. Lemon Grass oils is remarkably close chemically to the pheromone given off by a Queen Bee.
I love having a bait hive in the garden. It is one of the joys in life sat watching a swarm arrive and it is something I think I will always have in the garden. Even when I have given up full time beekeeping and I am into my dotage I will have a bait hive. I will just call the local Swarm Collector every time it fills up.

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