Swarm Trap Plans – 10 Frame Lang Deep

Swarm Trap Construction

Materials List:

  • An old ratty Langstroth deep (9-5/8″ Hive Body).
  • 4 – 2” x 2”s cut to 9-5/8 inches long
  • 2 – pieces 3/8 inch plywood cut to the dimensions 19-7/8 inches x 16-1/4 inches
  • 1 – 1” x 4” x ~16 inches long
  • 24 – 2” screws
  • 3 – ¼-20 – 2” bolts or machine screws
  • 3 – ¼” washers
  • 3 – ¼” nuts
  • 8 pieces of screen wire cut to about 2” x 2”
  • As an entrance closure you can use 1 of 2 methods.  A used canning lid or an entrance disc that used to be on the Walter Kelley website.  I ordered them off of the phone last time.  They still have them, they just aren’t in the online store.  If ordering by phone ask for #279-disc in the hive accessories section.
  • 1 –  #8 x 1/2 inch Sheet Metal Screw



First nine swarm traps.

First 9 swarm traps. All made from scrap shelving salvaged from an old house.

My first traps were made from old scrap lumber which takes longer and does not seem to have as good a trapping rate.  I have caught bees in them, but probably won’t make anymore.  It is my opinion that I have a better trapping rate when I start with an old deep hive body that has bad corners or some other defect and make it into a trap.  I get these free a lot of times from other beekeepers who just have them stored and know they will never use them again.

Step 1:  Take a look at the Deep and figure out if it needs any initial structural attention.

Box needing some Attention

This box required a little attention. This is the perfect type of deep to use as a swarm trap.

Try to patch them up as much as possible.  You will be moving bees in this thing so make sure you can keep them in once they’re occupy the trap.  Pull any nails that are loose or have backed themselves out.  Put screws into the holes.  Then use a paint scraper, sander, and/or sandpaper on the outside surfaces to remove as much loose paint as possible.


Step 2:  Drill 8 ventilation holes and the main entrance in each of the traps.

When they are not being used as traps I use these boxes as Warre “like” Quilt Boxes and the ventilation holes help to get rid of excess moisture during winter.  Also I don’t want the new colony to overheat in transit after I have caught them.  I don’t know if it is necessary, but I do it.  Initially I was covering these holes with tape while the traps were deployed.  I forgot tape one day and put several traps up.  The boxes were occupied within a short time so I don’t bother covering them anymore.  I caught more bees last summer in traps that had the vent holes uncovered.

Determine which end of the box is top and bottom..

On each end (the 16-1/4” faces) measure down 2.5 inches from the TOP and 3.5 inches from EACH side.  You can eyeball it or use a square to standardize everything and make it look good.  The Bees won’t care either way.  Make a mark at those points.

Measuring down 2.5 inches.

2.5 inches down from top of deep on 16-1/4 inch face.

Using Speed Square

3.5 inches from side on 16-1/4 inch face.

Marked vent hole.

This mark is where one of the vent holes will be drilled.

On each of the sides (the 19-7/8” faces) measure down 2.5 inches from the top and 4 inches from each side.  Make a mark at those points.

19-7/8" side Down 2.5 inches 4 inches from edge.

Once you have 8 marks Drill a hole using the 1inch hole saw at a slight angle so that water will run down and out of each hole rather than setting there causing rot or running into the box.


Note that the drill is at an angle. This will direct water OUT of the box when it rains.

After all of the ventilation holes are drilled mark where your entrance needs to be.  That is unless there is already a hole in one end of the box.  Many of my old deeps have already have holes drilled in them.  In that case you can skip this step.

This hole was already drilled.

I put the entrance in the 16-1/4” face so that when you have the trap loaded the frames are right behind the entrance, making it a less likely for birds to build nests in the traps.  I have not had a bird take up residence yet.  Many of the other swarm traps I have seen described on the internet require that nails be placed across the opening, I don’t feel this is necessary.

Across what I call the front (one of the 16-1/4” faces) of your deep measure across to 8-1/8 inches.  Using the square draw a line at that mark from the bottom of the box to the top.

This will ensure that your hole is in the center of the 16-1/4 inch face of the box.

You will need to make the final decision where you want the hole on this one.  I PREFER TO HAVE MINE IN THE BOTTOM HALF OF THE TRAP.  Exact placement will also depend on the type of the closure device you are going to use either canning lid or disc closure.  So place your closure device on the box and determine where you want to locate your entrance.

Using entrance disc to determine where hole needs to be.

Mark the spot where you want your entrance.  Mark the spot where you want to drill the hole for the screw that secures your disc or canning lid.  At the mark representing the closure screw, drill a hole with a 5/64″ drill bit.

After tracing the entrance hole. Note the small dot above the "entrance circle" That is where I will drill the 5/64-inch hole.

Cover the hole and place a mark where you need to drill the hole for the screw. I drill a hole to one side of the canning lid.

Drill the entrance hole using the 1 inch hole saw at a slight downward angle so that water will run out of the box.

Then line up your closure device.

Attach the closure device to your trap using a #8 x 1/2 inch Sheet Metal Screw.  When using a canning lid an extra screw may be needed to hold the closure flush against the side of the box when it is in the closed position.

Canning lid type closure "Closed". Note the screw to the left in order to hold the lid tight against the trap when closed.

Canning lid type closure "open".

Now remove the screw and closure device, set it aside until after your are done with weatherproofing (Step 6).  You can then re-attach the closure device prior to deployment.

Step 3:  Put one 9-5/8 inch 2″x2″s in each corner.

2 x 2's

2 x 2 in each corner.

Primarily this is to add structural integrity to these old boxes.  In some used deeps the joints move and are loose.  I have had full traps weigh 30-40 pounds one week after picking up a swarm.  I never want to check a trap to find that the box failed after a large swarm had taken up occupancy.  Also the 2×2’s are used as attachment points for both the top and the bottom of the trap.

Measure in from each end 1.5 inches and make 2 marks near each joint, one towards the top and one towards the bottom.  It is not important exactly where you put them only that they be at least 1-5/8” away from the top and bottom so that you don’t hit the screws holding the top and bottom on later.  Be sure to place your marks such that your screws will miss the nails or screws in the box as well.  Lastly stagger the marks so that the screws you put in the 2 x 2’s miss each other.

Drill holes using a 3/16” drill bit where your marks are.  These will be your pilot holes.

2 x 2 attachment

Holes are pre-drilled. Note the location of the holes and that all holes are staggered.

Use clamps to hold the 2 x 2 in place while you sink the first 2 screws.  Then remove the clamps and sink the second two screws.  If done in this way everything will be nice and tight.

2 x 2 in each corner

Using clamps to hold 2 x 2.

Repeat this step for all four corners.

Step 4:  Attaching the hanging board on the side.

I use a 1″ x 4″ that is about 16 inches long for this, and opt to bolt it to the box using stainless steel – two inch ¼-20 bolts or machine screws.  Once again to decrease the chance of structural failure.

Attaching the Hanging Board

Hanging Board

Determine the center of the 19-7/8” side, by making a mark at 9-15/16”  You want your hanging board centered on this point.  If you can figure out how to do that skip ahead.

Make another mark at 11-11/16.  This is where having a square comes in handy.  From this mark draw a line from the top of the box to the bottom.

Place your 1″ x 4″ right next to this line.  And it will be centered on the box.

Line at 11-11/16 next to 1" x 4" that will become the hanging board.

Clamp the board to the side of the box.

Drill three, ¼” holes through the board and the box.

Hanging Board


Use ¼ inch washers on the inside of the box.  Then put the ¼ inch nuts on and tighten them up.  You want them tight, but not tight enough to split your board.

Next place the trap on the floor

You need to make a hole to hang the trap.  Measure about 2.5 inches from the end of the board furthest from the box and mark with pencil.  Determine where the center of the board is (1-3/4 inches) and mark that.  Then drill a ½ inch hole at the point where the two lines cross.

Preparing to drill a 1/2" hole in hanging board.

 Step 5:  Making the lid and the bottom.

I use 2 pieces of 3/8-inch plywood each cut to 19-7/8” x 16-1/4.  If you have something else available or free use it.

Select one for the top and label (what will be the inside) with a pencil TOP.  Do the Same for the Bottom.  Draw an arrow to point toward the entrance hole.  That way in the event you remove the top or bottom you will be able to quickly put things back together using the same holes.

Place the piece you have selected for the bottom under your trap and align all the corners.

Once aligned, trace the 2 x 2’s in each corner with a pencil.

Marking top and bottom boards.

Repeat this process for the top.

Utilize the marks to pre-drill the attachment holes for both the top and bottom.  Drill a 3/16 inch hole so that they will be roughly in the center of the 2″ x 2″s.  Use your previous tracings as a guide.

Tops and Bottoms

Drilling attachment holes for top and bottom.

Flip the deep over on its top.  Place bottom on, align the corners.  Put one – 2 inch screw in each corner using your pre-drilled holes as guides.  Be careful not to over-tighten.  Since you are using thin plywood it is easy to overdraw your screw.  Repeat this process for the top.

Step 6: Weatherproofing.

Painted boxes from last spring.

Now either paint them or apply something else to protect your trap from weather, or leave it natural.  I know some beekeepers don’t believe in painting, but I do it.  Paint or don’t I don’t care either way.  It is not worth fighting over.  The plywood will get ratty pretty quickly if you don’t do something.



Step 7:  Covering your vent holes with screen wire.

After weatherproofing is complete remove the top.  Cut small square pieces of screen wire that will adequately cover your 1” vent holes (approximately 2 inch x 2 inch.  Affix the wire to the inside of the box, covering the ventilation holes using a Staple Gun.  I usually put about 8 – 3/8” staples around each hole.

Screen wire stapled to inside of vent holes.

Now get some traps made.  If something is unclear either ask in the comments or e-mail me.  If clarification is needed I will update these plans.


14 Responses to Swarm Trap Plans – 10 Frame Lang Deep

  1. James Beine says:

    I noticed on your blog that the swarm traps you appear to be using are slightly different then the plans you post. Have you made so changes?

    • Jason says:

      Very perceptive!!! I was keeping it simple for people because I didn’t want to have anyone think they were too much trouble to make. The only two differences really are that the hanging boards on many of my traps have a hinge. This hinge allows me to flop the board over in the winter. In the winter my traps are turned into Warre “like” quilt boxes. The hinge allows me to put an inner cover as well as a telescoping lid on top without removing the hanging board. All I need to do is remove the lid and the bottom. Also I wrap these traps with 1×4’s at the base to keep the wind from coming in.

      One other thing. I have 9 traps that were my initial group, they only hold six frames. They only have one vent hole in the front and rear. They work fine, I just like the 8 frame traps better. (The 8 framers are made out of an old 10 frame lang deep.)

      Were you talking about those differences or did I missing something? I can up some pictures if you would like a more visual explanation.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Pingback: New Swarm Trap And Swarm Trapping - Beverly Bees

  3. Wilmer Duncan says:

    I found some good ideas in the prints that I do not have in my swarm boxes. I will make the changes.



  4. This is really a nice post. The process described here with photos are useful and helpful to understand in better way. Surely will bookmark and utilize this post. Like to share with G+ followers. Thank a lot for sharing.

    • Jason says:

      I believe in swarm trapping. If you construct traps like that and there are feral bees in an area you will catch em. For the activities outlined on your web page you could probably utilize traps like those as a preventative measure against swarms moving into people’s structures. Once I get a swarm call anywhere a trap goes in the truck with me. IF the homeowner seems interested I offer to hang a trap in their yard. “That way when bees return they go to the trap……” The homeowner calls me and I go pick them up a couple days after occupation.

      I had a little boy in April and we have been building a new house this summer so posting has been very sparse. I hope 2014 allows me to put up more content. Thanks for reading.

      • GreySquirrel says:

        Congratulations on the little boy. I’m here revisiting the info. as I prepare for 2014 myself. Caught one swarm in a trap last year but it was a big one. Hopefully more this year!

        • Jason says:

          I would look for other spots in your area that have similar habitat to the place you caught the swarm. That is what works here. You get better and better over time.
          Now that you have a known location you can focus more on that spot next year. If you can remove the big primary swarm within a day or two, sometimes you can catch another one right away.

          If you can find some old deeps use this winter to get more traps built. In the Spring go through your dead-outs early removing dead bees before they get moldy. Use that old black comb for trap bait. I am already trying to make predictions on which ones will make it here.

          Be careful with those big swarms. All the more reason to never use a ladder. I have had them get pretty heavy. You know you have something when all of the bees cant fit in the trap at dark. :)

          Good luck in 2014.

          • GreySquirrel says:

            Thanks for the tips. I’ve got them back in the trees again already this year. Also, have two addition locations further out in countryside. Good luck to you this year!

  5. Jay says:

    Would you address the method of removing the swarm from it’s capture place?

    • Jason says:

      Hey Jay
      I have a link here. If you have specific questions let me know. I have never done a video this step because it is always done after dark. I’ve tried it and it just wasn’t something I wanted to put out there.

      Pictures have looked bad to. I will try to get something better out there next spring.

      • Jay says:

        Those are some good links. I like a lot of his presentations. Maybe I was being too obtuse I guess, but I was wondering how you proceeded to get the box out of the tree or down from the height I’m imaging it should be hung and never use a ladder. I have a sense of that ladder issue and may have to give up some of those second story removals. Just wondering… rope and pulley, then lower it?

        • Jason says:

          I just hang them in a location I can easily reach from the ground. Ropes, pulleys and the like probably would work.

          I just havent used them. I try to remove calamity from my life before it gets a chance…. :)

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