Spring temperatures allow honeybees to break out of winter clusters. They are wired to rapidly expand in population as soon as resources permit. New spring blooms with abundant pollen and nectar lead to rapid increases in the bee colony. When a honeybee colony senses that it is outgrowing the space available in its hive, whether a hive box or a hollow tree, the colony prepares “swarm cells” to raise multiple new queen bees. Before the new queens emerge, the existing queen and up to half of the worker bees leave the hive in a “swarm” to find a dark cavity in which to establish a new hive.
A swarm trap is a wooden box designed to entice honeybee swarms to move-in, from which they can be easily relocated a new bee hive. A swarm trap is typically strapped to a tree and contains a small entrance, old brood comb from a hive, and a scented lure to attract honeybee swarms. In our area, swarm traps are generally used March – July. They do not attract bees to a property, so a swarm trap will not increase the potential for a bee sting or increase pollination of your garden. Hopefully, the trap will entice any honeybee swarm that is already in the area to settle in the trap, rather than a hollow tree, shed, roof, soffit, etc. It is much easier to complete a bee swarm removal from a portable trap, than a roof soffit or barn.
We would like to place swarm traps in several areas in Talbot County in March and leave them out until the end of July. The trap could be left on a firewood pile or strapped to a tree in an out-of-the-way location. We will set it up and remove it, and are only seeking permission to place one on your property.
You can check the trap every 5-10 days just by watching for a minute from a comfortable distance. If bees are regularly entering the trap carrying pollen, they’ve claimed it as their home and are ready to be relocated. Bees carry pollen to the hive on their back legs; it can be white, gray, yellow, orange or red, depending on the flowers they visit.
If a swarm moves in, after it settles in for a few days, we will close the entrance one evening, replace the full trap with an empty one, and move the bees to a new hive in one of our bee yards.