Swarm Trap Construction
- 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
- 1” hole-saw
- ¼” drill bit
- 3/16” Drill Bit
- 1/2” drill bit
- 5/64″ drill bit.
- Tape measure
- 2 wood clamps of any type.
- Screw Driver
- Something similar to an :Arrow Fastener T50 Heavy Duty Staple Gun and 3/8” staples.
- Not necessary but will give better result: Small Speed Square or a Framing Square
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Clamp the board to the side of the box.
Drill three, ¼” holes through the board and the box.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.