Recipe for Swarm Lure

by liz on June 4, 2010

Those bee colonies that swarm are strong, and I want strong bees. I hated that one of my hives died last year…the hive that died was always kind of slow compared to the Amazons (which I got as a result of a swarm from Chris’s hive). It makes sense that it you’ve got strong colonies, you’d want to propogate them. And there are several ways to do that, though I haven’t done it yet.

Last night I mixed up a batch of swarm lure—I have to give credit to Linda over at Linda’s Bees. She posted this recipe several years ago.

I mixed 1/4 cup olive oil, a wad of beeswax (1/2 of a sheet of foundation), and about 20 drops of lemongrass oil. I heated the mixture together in a glass measuring cup that I placed in a pan of boiling water. Once it was all melted together, I poured it into a small foil bread mold we had in the cabinet. It solidified into a smearable paste in about 5 minutes. I wish I’d had a nice little jar with a lid, but all the jars I have are too deep to keep shoving my hands into.

Today I’ll head out to an unused brood box I’ve set up near my hives and smear it with this swarm lure. It’s supposed to attract bees…apparently the lemongrass oil smells like the queen pheremone; the oil and wax keep the lemongrass oil from dissipating and make the mixture workable.

In the swarm-lure box are 10 frames with beeswax foundation (I’m supposed to have some frames of drawn comb in there, too, but I don’t have any. All my combs are with the bees), so once the scout bees from a swarm come to check out the smell in my brood box, they should find a nice home in a good neighborhood all ready for them to move into.

Later today, I plan to call the police and fire departments in my area and add my name to their swarm capture list…then, if anyone calls to report a swarm of bees, I’m on the list of people who will go and capture it. It’s a great way to increase the number of robust bees.

Making Swarm Lure

Liquid Swarm Lure

Solidified Swarm Lure

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mil March 27, 2012 at 11:12 am

Thank you for this recipe! I just got my bottle of lemongrass oil and am planning to make some to put into a swarm lure box. We were advised to use old brood comb as an added enticement.


kevin morris February 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Sounds good I will try it> Thank you


ricky grace February 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm

how much of this do u put in a nuc box to catch a swarm


liz February 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm

A glob. Maybe a glob the size of a teaspoon. The best thing to use to catch a swarm, though, is previously used comb. That, and a tincture of queen pheromones.

To make your queen-pheromone tincture, save your dead or pinched queens and store them in a jar in a small bath of rubbing alcohol. To draw a swarm, apply a small amount of the tincture to a cotton ball, put the cotton ball in a little ziplock bag with a hole in it, and put the ziplock bag in a swarm box. Every now and then, add more tincture to the cotton ball.

I don’t know if any of this actually really works, though. Sometimes swarms just move in. :)


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