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

{ 11 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. :)


Larry April 9, 2015 at 2:02 pm

04/09/15 I have used this recipe, but place my swarm boxes of 5 frames at least 250 away with a frame of honey inside.. I don’t know if it makes any difference but that’s what the swarm lure that you buy says. Also I did not catch any swarms for 3 years and went to a botanical place where they moved bees to an island and the guy told me to close the swarm box up except the small opening in front and I have been catching swarms ever since. Also when you catch a swarm in a swarm box leave it there until the bees have a chance to lay eggs. You’ll have a nice bunch of bees to transfer. Also when you climb the ladder to remove the swarm box wear you bee suit. They will find someplace to get out and sting you. I would like to place a swarn box next to the hive, let me know if it is better.


Helen April 28, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Hi, I would like to know if anyone would be interested in a Large bee hive. It’s been under my shed for about 4 years and it seems to be getting bigger every year. They have started to get aggressive and my grandchildren are unable to play out side any more for fear of getting stung. A reminder, they’re UNDER the shed and hard to get to. I don’t want to kill them but if I have no other solution, I will have to kill them off. We live in West Texas…If interested, please email me.


Gains May 17, 2015 at 11:28 am

were are you?


Lorri Mason July 13, 2015 at 6:53 pm

I made a batch on Saturday, doubled the ingredients except the olive oil then coated the back wall of a NUC box. BAM!!!! A swarm of bees moved in early afternoon Monday. AMAZING….

(yes, I used 2-frames of drawn comb and 3-cut comb frames, added a small chunk of pollen patty onto the front lip of the box as well)


Stephen July 18, 2015 at 10:52 pm

Need to go the opposite, get the bees to leave
Hive is in my front porch ceiling
Im very allergic
Will anything repel?


chris M July 19, 2015 at 10:34 pm

I don’t use or have any foundation, but I do have some wax. Can you tell me how much wax weighs in a sheet of foundation?


chris M July 19, 2015 at 10:46 pm

Larry, swarm box best to 3m above the ground and most success with a ten frame deep or equivalent volume (40 litres).
I don’t have any frames nor foundation in mind, because I don’t use any foundation and I don’t have any spare combs for my swarm boxes. So in my case it is just top bars and I’ll add this swarm lure for good measure. I have placed swarm boxes near my own hives and in place where I caught a swarm once, (hopefully history will repeat). I reckon if you caught now swarms in three years that you should look for new locations on ridges, in trees and a polite distance from other beekeepers.


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