Bait hives

Bait hive on the roof of an old pig sty

Bait hive at Moelyci…with bees!








Swarms of honeybees will be out looking for a home from May to early July.  It could be in a chimney or the roof of a house, or it could be in your bait hive!
Try setting up a bait hive in each apiary, or near a feral colony, in hole in a tree, or in the roof of a house, with permission from the landowner.
It is considered impolite to place bait hives near another beekeeper’s apiary!

You will need…
A solid wood hive floor, or a mesh floor with the catch tray fitted;  frames of foundation, crown board, hive roof.
Option 1. If your bait hive is at home and you can check it every day.  Brood box with one  used brood frame/comb, from a healthy colony, at the back of the box, in an empty brood box. The bees prefer this setup, because they can assess the volume of the empty box.
You must fill the box with frames of foundation very soon after a swarm has arrived,  otherwise the bees will fill it with wild comb.  (My mistake in 2021).
Option 2, away from your home.  Brood box with one old frame/comb at the back, and fill the box with frames of foundation.  Less successful, but worth trying if you are unable to check every day.
Swarms are said to prefer a location well off the ground.  See pictures.
Update June 2022.   You must check your bait hives regularly for new arrivals during the June gap.  A swarm can soon starve if it is not fed!

When (or if) your bait hive has been occupied by bees, try to move the hive of bees to a suitable long-term location, before the bees learn to fly back to the bait hive.  Set up another bait hive on the site.
You can treat the broodless bees with oxalic acid, to knock out phoretic varroa mites (mites living on the body of the bees).
Feed the swarm with 1:1 sugar syrup, two days after they arrive.
The bees will quickly draw out foundation, if the sycamore is providing a honey flow, and they can fill a brood box with brood and stores within ten days.
Check that the queen is laying healthy brood.

Further information
Dave Cushman’s website   (I’m not sure about the energy lines though!).
The Apiarist blog

We’d welcome any comments.
Please email Peter McFadden at