I put a bait hive out for the first time last year but didn’t have any luck attracting a swarm, but then I didn’t have much luck with anything beekeeping related last year. The main reason for doing it was to hopefully stop swarms from my own colonies causing problems with the neighbours.
About 4 weeks ago I decided to relocate it from it’s westerly facing position on a flat roof to the top of my south facing porch – about 3m off the ground. The bait hive consists of a 14 x 12 brood box fitted with a solid floor and a restricted entrance of about 30mm in one corner, topped with a crownboard and roof. Inside the box were a couple of old frames and a dummy board – as it’s a 14 x 12 box I wanted to make the internal volume appear smaller. All the research I did indicated that bees seemed to prefer around 30-36 litres so using a dummy board meant I could adjust the internal space to the recommended volume.
I smeared a couple of drops of lemongrass oil across the tops of the frames and put some on a wad of tissue inside a freezer bag that I placed in a corner on the floor.
Got back after being away for the week-end to find that a swarm had occupied it. As I hadn’t inspected my own bees I was a bit concerned that one of my colonies might have swarmed whilst I was away. However, after inspecting my colonies it looks like it’s a swarm of somebody else’s bees.
From a cursory look I can see it’s a large swarm and has already started to fill the old combs and drawn a new comb down from the crown-board and the bees look to be good tempered. As it had been there for about 3 days I took it down and sited it in my apiary. I have added some additional frames of foundation and put in a frame feeder in case they are short of stores and to encourage them to draw out the new foundation. At the week-end I will do a proper inspection and look to put them in a normal brood box so I can re-use the bait hive.
Really pleased so far with the results as it’s always nice to get something for nothing, hopefully they will turn out to be a productive colony and expands to be able to take them through the Winter as a full size colony.
My advice for anybody contemplating setting up their own bait hive is go for it. Make sure that the location you choose is one that you can access easily as you will need to able to carry a box full of bees down from it. At first I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do this as I had originally set the hive up by carrying the individual components up a ladder one by one. It’s a different story trying to lug a full size box back down again.