Building Bee Approved Bait Hives

According to certain notable bee researchers and authors, there IS a way to build bait hives that are more likely to be a preferred destination for wayward honey bee swarms.

In a co-authored Cornell Extension publication (#187), “Bait Hives for Honey Bees” back in 1989, ROger Morse, Tom Seeley and Richard Nowogrodzki gave us some valuable tips to capturing those wayward swarms in ait hives to put them into our own apiaries.

The twelve recommendations to build a better bee bait hive are:

  1. Height: about 15 feet (5 meters) above the ground.

  2. Shade and Visibility: well-shaded, but ighly visible.  Bees avoid or abandon bait hives in direct sun.

  3. Distance from parent nest: not important.

  4. Total entrance area: about 1.5 to 2 sq inches (10 to 15 cm²); a circular opening about 1 ¼ inch (3.2 cm) in diameter is suggested.

  5. Entrance shape: Not important

  6. Entrance position: near the floor of the hive.

  7. Entrance direction: facing south preferred, but other directions are acceptable.

  8. Cavity volume: about 1.4 cubic feet (40 liters) This is about the volume of one standard ten-frame Langstroth hive body.

  9. Cavity shape: not important.

  10. Dryness and airtightness: dry and snug, especially at the top.

  11. Type of wood: Various types acceptable; many types of trees have been occupied. Bees may avoid new lumber.

  12. Odor: the odor of beeswax is attractive. However, putting in pieces of comb is not advisable, as comb aso attracts wax moths and can harbordisease organisms.  If a hive body is used as a bait hve, agood solution is to insert a few wired fames, each containing a strip of foundation. Commercially available chemical lures that smell like lemon grass and apparently miic the scouts’ communication scents work well and can be used in bait hives of any shape.