When it comes time to hang traps you need to think about several things before you even head out. If you haven’t read my post on Looking for Spots start there. Once you have chosen your general location you need to decide if you are going to hang the box or set it on something. I have read accounts of people having good luck setting their traps on barrels, decks and rooftops. I’ve caught two swarms by that method, both on accident when I had traps setting outside awaiting deployment.
I will be dealing with hanging since that is what I have the most experience with. A lot of information abounds about swarm traps needing to be 10-15 feet off the ground. I know from experience that swarms can be caught without this height requirement. I do NOT use a ladder and cannot recommend it to anyone else. The value of $100 worth of bees makes them worth catching, but not worth the risk of falling off a ladder. First and foremost before you even start plan ahead and make sure that your intended location is either somewhere you know no one will mess your trap or you are fairly certain it cannot be readily seen.
- 5 Gallon Bucket
- A bullet level
- Bottle of Lemon Grass Oil
- A 6 to 8 foot section of #3 Double Loop Chain (Not pictured because I am currently OUT)
- 1″ S-Hooks
- A plastic jar with a screw-top lid (an old peanut butter jar.)
- cheap light duty ratchet strap. (not pictured).
- Phillips screwdriver
- A couple scrap pieces of wood of various thicknesses.
- Nails that are thick enough to support the weight of your swarm trap (if you chose to hang the trap on a nail.)
- Hammer (only if using nails)
- Your swarm trap
Step 1. Preparation and Transport
First off 1 inch S-Hooks are not very useful until they are modified a little. I use a small pair of needle nose vise-grips for this, but any type of pliers will work. Place the hook in the pliers and bend the ends in just slightly towards the “body” of the S. Note the difference in the pictures. If I have not explained this effectively enough e-mail me and I will try to clear things up.
Place your S-hooks and the Lemongrass Oil in the plastic jar so that you don’t lose the hooks or puncture the bottle LGO. Before you head out put all of the small items listed in the materials list in the five gallon bucket. This will keep everything together and makes for easier transport to the tree. Get your bucket and trap to the general location where you want to locate the trap.
Step 2. Selecting a tree
I like a certain type of tree. First of all look for a tree that will provide morning and evening sun exposure while shading the box during the middle of the day. This is most easily done if you can find a tree that is standing out by itself that has a nice canopy overhead. You want one that is large enough that when the wind blows it will not move, yet small enough that you can get the chain around it and have at least 2-3 feet extra. It also needs to have a rough enough surface to NOT allow the chain to slip down the tree once the trap is attached. Finally the tree needs to have at least one side that is relatively straight and free of bumps, nubs, limbs, and knots so that you can get good surface contact between the trap and the tree. This will limit movement in strong wind. All of my traps are built the same. For the entrance to face either East or South I hang them on either the North or East side of a tree.
Step 3. Wrap the chain around the tree.
Once you have your tree selected remove all the items from the bucket. Put them all together so you don’t lose anything. Turn the bucket over and place it next to the tree. You are going to stand on it so make sure that it is stable. I get frustrated with this because sometimes it takes a while if the ground is uneven. Standing on the bucket get the chain wrapped around the tree as high as you can. Using an S-hook attach the chain back to itself as in the picture. Note in the picture that there is a tail hanging down the side of the tree. You want that tail to hang down and through the area that your trap will be making contact with the tree.
Step 4. Hanging
Now pick up your trap. My traps have a 1/2 inch hole in the hanging board and #3 double loop chain will slide right through it. Run the tail through the hole in the hanging board taking up the slack until you get the trap to the desired height. Then use another S-hook to attach the chain back to itself.
Step 5 Strapping and Leveling
Next take your ratchet strap and wrap it around the tree and the hanging board. This takes a little finagling. Once you get everything hooked up, begin to tighten the trap to the point that it is just getting snug.
Then place your bullet level parallel to the 19-7/8″ side of the trap. The side that runs parallel with the frames.
Once you get done with that side move the level so that it is perpendicular to the frames. This is the most critical part of the entire process since I use foundation-less frames. Sometimes to get this accomplished you will need to shim the box with something either high or low. This is why you brought along the scrap pieces of wood. It sometimes requires a couple of tries to get it just right. That is why it is important to start with a tree that is fairly straight in the first place. Now ratchet that strap tight so that there is no movement.
Re-check your level going the other way and you are just about ready to walk away. Make sure that your closure device is NOT loose and that the hole is OPEN. Use your screwdriver to tighten the closure device screw if necessary.
Just prior to leaving remove the lid from the bottle of LGO. Place a finger over the opening of the bottle and invert it so that the LGO gets all over your fingertip. Return the lid to the bottle and rub your finger all over the front of the box and inside the entrance hole.
Pack up all of your stuff and check back in a week or two. When you return apply a little more LGO to the face of the trap and entry hole.
I try to get my traps down by mid-July or whenever I run out of deeps whichever comes first. Check in on them at least every two weeks unless you can count the landowner to keep you up to date on their status. If you leave them up too long they become VERY heavy. If you find out you have a catch wait to move them until the bees are bringing in pollen. As soon as you see this behavior get the trap down and the bees hived.
Once you capture a swarm in a trap that thing will be HOT so get the bees out of there, reload it, and get it hung again. If hung in a good spot it will likely be reoccupied quickly.
Good Luck get out there and get your traps hung.