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

{ 17 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.

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kevin morris February 3, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Sounds good I will try it> Thank you

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ricky grace February 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm

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

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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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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.

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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.
Thanks,
Helen

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Gains May 17, 2015 at 11:28 am

were are you?

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Aj July 9, 2015 at 8:44 pm

I am wondering what keeps your other colony from going to the lure and also if you are luring bees fom a nearby beekeepers hives?

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liz November 19, 2015 at 10:08 am

Hello, AJ, and thanks for your questions. Only swarms already looking for a new hive location will be drawn to the lure. Healthy colonies don’t leave their hives in search of new homes, so they aren’t drawn away from their already-established locations.

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Rock March 11, 2016 at 7:01 pm

Actually, it is not unhealthy swarms that leave, it is extraoedinarily strong hives that “split”, grow and groom new Queen(s) (strongest one will survive in the final moments) and the old queen leaves with the half of the hive that the old box(es) are too small for.

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Rock March 11, 2016 at 7:09 pm

And yes, you are likely catching a swarm from a neighbor…he may not have put out a “spare hive box” for them to consider, or yours was more attractive to the swarming bees. I have caught roving bee swarms, and also my own that have split. They leave and clump onto a branch or building eve while the scouts go looking…often several hundred feet to a quarter mile from the original hive. Follow the swarm to their temporary branch and just cut the branch off, put it in the hive, block it off so they cannot leave.
The bees are so full of honey that they “cannot” sting, and they will not leave their queen, and if trapped in a hive, the Queen has to start laying eggs ASAP…or they bring runs out….3-5 pounds of honey to make one pound of wax to build comb…so maybe have a queen screen top and bottom so only the workers can come and go.

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J -N- J's Bees March 23, 2016 at 11:42 am

I’m just adding to what you said Rock, but usually its a “coin toss” when it comes to which queen gets kicked out the hive. I have has many swarms in my time being a master beekeeper and the odds of a “Virgin Queen” losing to a newly mated strong queen in a hive thats about 4 months old around this time because right now is swarm season in my region of the U.S, (N.Fla.) Anyways long story short if the swarm flies high up into a tree if any nearby, lets say over 20-30 ft Then most likely that is a virgin queen. A strongly “Mated Queen” or as you said an old queen CAN’T Fly that high up I’ve come to find out over the years because of her weight and mass where as a young virgin queen has no problem. Also I have seen a Virgin take close to half the hive with her but that’s not usually the case. It will be the Mated Queen with the stronger pheromone that will take more of the hive with her than the virgin. One last thing. You should immeadiately go into the hive that swarmed and do a inspection because, usually if there is 1 queen cell that hatched and swarmed on you. You can bet your bottom dollar that there is going to be a half dozen or so more queen cells that are still viable to either do a split with to help stop them from swarming in the next week on you again, and or you can go in find look for the either mated or virgin queen to make sure you have a queen left and not DEAD which happens sometimes. So you will want to leave a between 2-3 nice looking fully capped Queen cells (If Capped), because that are quiet distinguishable from the other cells such as drone cells. I just wanted to add this because I just lost a swarm and it was huge (Soccer ball sized) , but I opend the hive to find a still Fully packed inside, and it is 1 Deep with 4 medium supers. So I was a little late in adding another Deep Super for it otherwise that will help in stopping them in creating they’re supercedure Queen Cells as well! Thank You -J 2354775@gmail.com if anybody has any questions that need answering. Feel free to contact my email.

liz March 22, 2016 at 6:30 am

Yes, healthy hives swarm. They swarm only when they feel there are enough resources available for both the swarm and the originating hive to make a go of it.

And though I’ve often caught swarms from my own hives, I’ve not had much luck luring swarms into a catch box. Although it’s a lot like fishing…part of the thrill is waiting to see if the lure works. :) Swarm season is approaching in Ohio, friends. It’s a very exciting time.

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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)

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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?

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chris M July 19, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Hi,
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?

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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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