April 2016 Beeline

In this month’s Beeline we will be recapping our March 2nd PUB meeting. We met at our usual location at Alberta Abbey – and will be again on Wednesday, April 6th from 7-9pm. In lieu of our monthly member spotlight, Bill Catherall led an interesting 20-minute Q&A on all things bee-related.


Glen Andresen shared his monthly Pollen & Nectar report. With perennial additions such as the hellobores, and bulbs like the crocus tommasinianus, we’re also seeing a lot of the usual suspects like the sweet cherry and the asian pear starting to bud and flower. For a more detailed report check out bridgetownbees.com for Glen’s monthly “What’s in bloom” report. Send photos and suggestions of other good honey bee plants to glen@bridgetownbees.com.

baithivesBill Catherall shared an informative presentation on Swarm Traps and best practices on design, placement and baiting. By setting out swarm traps we can make it easier to catch our own swarms and give swarming bees a place to move into instead of a neighbor’s wall or attic space. For more information on his presentation and to download swarm trap plans go to Bill’s blog post here. Also there are a few bait hives still available for purchase for $30 ($25 for 2 or more) so contact Lauren Smith at librarian@portlandurbanbeekeepers.org to order.


Our March meeting featured Jacqueline Freeman, who gave a dynamic presentation about her experiences working with warre and top bar hives. Jacqueline is committed to a more relational and non-intrusive way of working with her bees to create treatment-free health and contentment in the hives. For more information about Jackie’s classes go to http://spiritbee.com/classes/. We are so grateful to Jackie for taking the time to share with our group.

And last but not least… don’t forget to SAVE THE DATE for Tour De Hives 2016 June 25-26! We will feature tour stops of backyard apiaries all over Portland. If you’d like to become a sponsor and be featured on this website, booklet, poster and even t-shirts, please send send an email to events@portlandurbanbeekeepers.org.

Swarm Traps

Catching swarms is fun, but chasing them down and gathering them up isn’t always an option for everyone. It’s so much easier to just let the swarms come to you as they move into a swarm trap. It can also be challenging to prevent our hives from swarming, so giving them an option to move into will make it much easier to catch our own swarms.

I recommend reading Dr Tom Seeley’s book Honeybee Democracy where he writes up his experiments to better understand how bees choose a home. Within that book you’ll learn about ideal cavity size and entrances.

The dimensions he gives are a cavity between 30 & 40 liters and an entrance no bigger than 15 square centimeters.

Some beekeeping supply store will sell you a “swarm trap” made of pressed fiber in the shape of a flowerpot. I really don’t recommend this option. Nobody has a hive that shape, so moving the bees from the flowerpot to the hive is tricky. Instead, use equipment that matches your hives. If you have a top bar hive, use a trap that has top bars that fit your hive. If you use Langstroth hives, use a deep (about 40 L) or a medium (about 30 L) with frames so you can easily move the frames from the trap to your hive without having to cut and string up comb.

A 15 cm2 opening would be a hole with a 1.72″ diameter. So a hole anywhere between 1″ and 1.5″ would be perfect.

For bait, a couple drops of lemongrass oil placed inside the hive, or on a cotton swab is just about all you need. You can also include some old brood comb for additional attractant.

Sometimes bees will move into just about any old equipment, but by following the basic principles above, you can improve your odds of catching swarms the easy way.


Download swarm trap plans.
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