I have had bees occupy a trap only to leave it a short time later. At times they have stayed as long as a couple of days. This caused me a lot of frustration last year as you can see from this video. It was mainly due to a lack of patience and a healthy dose of ignorance. It forced me to start classifying HITs and catches.
While making the rounds checking traps I always get excited when I see bees coming and going. However there are differences that are observable. Up until the point that I see pollen entering I refer to an occupied box as a HIT. This means that there are bees present, but I don’t start counting any chickens yet.
It has served me well to wait until I see pollen entering the trap to count it as a catch. At that time there is a pretty good chance that there is brood or will bee soon enough that the bees feel the need to gather it. You won’t have brood without a queen. I have only been doing this for two years, but I have not had a laying worker in a swarm trap yet. Beekeeping for All by Abbe Emile Warre teaches the importance of external observation in beekeeping. I happened to be reading from that book about the time the video was shot last year.
Pollen entering your trap is also an important factor in deciding when to move the trap. Remove it before there is brood and the bees may abscond. They have little reason to stay. They are way less likely to leave if there are babies on board. If you leave the trap in the tree too long it will be so heavy that you may have trouble handling it.
So don’t jump the gun, but don’t forget about the thing either.
Very good advice, I love this kind of observation, so far I have never actually had bees abscond a trap before, mind you I also have only caught two swarms this way a the year before last. Hopefully I can get a few this year, still waiting for our swarm season to start, around the end of may where I am.
Put your traps up then wait. In my experience the feral colonies swarm AFTER the ones that are non-feral. A cousin of mine caught almost 20 swarms that issued from hives before I had my first hit. I don’t feed anything so I don’t want swarms before there is adequate flow to sustain them. It is just another form of selection. I don’t want “Welfare Bees”!
If you keep posting these great videos and advice about swarm traps, I may have to get off my butt and actually make one (or two or three as I can see it is addicting). Until then I guess I’ll have to live vicariously through you. 🙂
I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. If you get some traps built you can try it out. Believe me you get some feral genetics building their own comb and you will be loving it.
I have been kicking around the idea of trying to sell some traps, but I am not sure on pricing. That’s something for the future. I figure they are so easy to make, why would anyone buy them from me…..
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I caught 63 swarms last year.
I bait with lemon grass oil and old comb.
When I see bees hanging on the trap I don’t mess with it until I see the pollen going in.
I use the flower pot method and have had good results using it.
The downside is putting the brood comb in empty frames with rubber bands.
But it works.
4 days after hiving a swarm I treat with Oxalic Acid Vapor for mites.
I am in Central Arkansas.
It sounds like you are in a great location for swarms. How many of the 63 came through the winter? I am getting geared up for this year. Last summer trapping success was muted for me here. Today I am getting everything organized and ready so that I can go around and super production colonies for 2014. My hives came through the winter strong, so I am hoping that the ferals did similarly.
I am hoping for a good year trapping. If I catch 63 I will have to do some emergency woodworking. Congrats on your success.