Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Our extra Warre box transformed into a bait hive

In preparation for beekeeping this spring, I read a number of books (you can read some of my reviews here) including McCartney Taylor's book Swarm Traps and Bait Hives. I thought it would be great fun to try and capture a swarm of feral bees. Ultimately, however, I decided to purchase package bees, at least this first year, to guarantee that we had bees instead of sitting around all summer twiddling our fingers. On of the upshots of deciding to build a Warre hive as opposed to a Kenyan Top Bar was that we have extra boxes sitting around and doing nothing right now. I decided to take an extra box (or two or three if I build more) and make them into bait hives.

According to McCartney Taylor, the ideal interior dimensions of a bait hive should equal 40 liters. I don't know about you, but I don't think in liters. Here's what it turns out to be in cubic inches:
- McCartney Taylor's interior dimensions are 19.25" x 13" x 10" = 2502.5 inches cubed.

Contrast that with the interior dimensions of one Warre hive box:
- Warre box interior dimensions are 11.8" x11.8" x 8" = 1113.92 inches cubed.

That ends up being about half of what Taylor recommended. What's the downside of a smaller box? Well, aside from the obvious (the bees might not like it as much and decide not to take up residence there), apparently smaller cavities are more easily accepted by Africanized honey bees (i.e. "killer" bees). Thankfully, we don't have Africanized honey bees in Minnesota, so, despite the smaller size I decided to go for it and build the bait trap. More likely I'll catch a swarm with a small box than if I don't put one out at all, right?

In the future, I may use two Warre boxes bungeed together to make a trap (that would be almost exactly the right size). Or if I decide to make specific bait traps, I could make one double long, but still fit my Warre top bars. Then, after the trapped bees have started building comb, I could move the correctly sized top bars to a waiting Warre hive. That's all in the future, however, so I'll just show you what I did for now.

First, I cut out a single piece of plywood and screwed it on as a cover. I chose a single piece here, to keep rain from dripping onto the bees.

Then I cut two pieces to use as the bottom of the trap. I didn't have a big enough piece of plywood left over to make a single pieced bottom. I figured it didn't matter as much on the bottom if there was a seam, no rain water would leak in there anyway. Then, near the edge of on of the bottom pieces I used a jig saw to cut a 2" hole, and I staples some straightened out paper clips across the hole to keep birds out.

And then I attached both these pieces to the bottom with screws. And that's really about it. Taylor adds a piece to the back that he uses to hang it from. I think I'm just going to set one out on a little deck we have that we never use, and if I make another, I'll bungee that to a tree (level of course) in my father-in-law's backyard.

It's nice that we made our boxes with windows. It will be easy to check on any swarms we happen to catch to see how their comb construction is coming a long.

Here's the last picture. You can see the 2" hole near the back of the box.


  1. Did you have any success with this bait hive?

  2. Did you have any success with this bait hive?