Bait hive

So it’s that time of year again fishing for a swarm. Just going to set the one hive again this year and in the same location as last year very close to my small workshop so I can watch it during the days I am at the workshop. I have even gone to the trouble of sprucing the hive up with a bit of coloured preserver especially as it is now sitting close to my fancy bug hotel.


Last year the bait hive had a good bit of interest from scout bees throughout the year but sadly no takers. However early on I had to close the hive for a week as I spotted a queen wasp showing interest and at the end of the year when I took the hive down I found the efforts of her attempts to build a nest and just hope she was able to establish her own colony elsewhere. I also had a couple of long tailed tits showing interest and did wonder if I was going to have a birds nest come the end of the year but they lost interest after a while and left rather a lot of bird poo in the hive, a bird public toilet the very cheek of it.

20150411_124933After the interest of the queen wasp and the birds the hive settled down with typical interest from scouts and on one occasion lots of interest with very excited scouts and I was expecting a swarm with camera at the ready but had to go out to inspect the bees at Kew and hoped I would not miss the excitement. When I returned I noticed the scout bees were still at the hive but their mood had changed they were just sitting at the entrance with occasional flights at the hive. This activity continued but with dwindling bees over about seven days. All I could think to explain this activity was that there was a swarm out close by and perhaps collected by a beekeeper who removed the swarm when the scouts were at my bait hive and the scouts returning to the swarm and finding it gone returned to the bait hive hoping the swarm would arrive. I guess I will never know but for me another example as to the fascination in bait hives.


This bait hive is part made from a hive I made nine years ago and made in a panic as a new beekeeper as my hive had swarmed and I had to make one in double quick time. So this hive is quite appropriate to be used as a bait hive. It’s also made with no joints and is simply screwed and glued together with stainless steel screws and is almost as good as the day it was made and goes to show you can make good hives from very simple construction.


Ok so the setup of the hive it’s a solid floor with small entrance. A full complement of  12 frames not all the same and a mix of various frame spacing styles including a couple with part built comb and two odd frames I was given with super foundation fitted in them and think they ran out of deep foundation. To hold the super foundation in place I simply ran a wire across the frame picking up the two loops in the bottom of the foundation wire, crown board with feed holes covered with mesh. The mesh it there just in case I pick up a swarm and want to move them I can block the entrance with mesh and with the mesh in the feed holes will give the bees some ventilation during the move  and finally a roof. The floor and crown board are both screwed to the brood box just to keep everything together when I have to move it. The hive is also screwed to the two wall brackets.


That’s it and all I have to do other than keep an eye on the entrance  is put a couple of drops of lemon grass oil onto a bit of foundation roll it up and slip it in the entrance every few weeks to help with attracting scout bees. I think to sum it up you either like fishing or you don’t and this is bee fishing.

I have a small time laps camera with waterproof case that I intend to set up to watch the entrance hoping to catch a swarm arrive once or if I get some interest, I can set it to take a shot every few seconds so it will be a similar video to some of my boat moving videos but the real joy will be actually watching one arrive. Fingers crossed.


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7 Responses to Bait hive

  1. The Apiarist says:

    Mine are going out in the next 7-10 days … still a bit chilly here. I’ve got one low and one high in the same location to see which is more effective, plus a couple more in the fields. You’ve probably read Tom Seeley’s Honeybee Democracy which is a great account of how scouts choose a new hive, how they communicate with the swarm and how the swarm is directed to the chosen site. If you haven’t it’s definitely one to reserve in the library and read slowly over the winter …

    Tight Lines

    • I should read it as I find the whole swarming bit very interesting. I will have to get it. Helped someone with a hive this evening, it had two sealed queen cells and a number open. Thank fully they had not swarmed. It’s a big hive and had no room, bless them they did not want to swarm but were been forced to. We are starting to get the odd swarm now and hives with queen cells although a bit early and will only increase from now on. Good luck.

      • Emily Scott says:

        I can lend Honeybee Democracy to you if you like Tom? Could leave it in your hive roof!

        Looks like a grand bait hive, if I was a scout bee I certainly would be interested. But glad you didn’t end up keeping wasps!

      • Lovely I would like that Emily. Don’t think there will be any room under the roof, gap filled with insulation. Perhaps I can get it off you at the apiary.

  2. Emily Scott says:

    Ok, will try my best to remember to bring it down on Saturday.

  3. Fascinating to see the nucleus left by the inklings of the wasp queen, perhaps she didn’t like the birds using it as a public toilet either and left! More luck baiting this year 😉

    • Unfortunately the queen wasp had little choice Emma as I closed the the door on her and she went elsewhere and the birds were just plain cheeky. As for the bait hive a big swarm moved in on Sunday and will update very soon.

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