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The simple bait hive we describe here is designed to fit with a Honey Cow hive. The top bars are interchangeable, so moving your new bees to the Honey Cow is quick and easy. Like with fishing, you must be patient and wait. Before you know it, you’ll have happy bees ready to join your family.

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Step 1: The Box

- Start by marking one side of a 1X10 by 8 foot piece of lumber as follows, 24”, 33 1/2”, 40 1/2”, 51”, 61 1/2”, 72”. On the opposite side of the board, mark as follows: 7”, 16 1/2”, 40 1/2”, 51”, 61 1/2”, 72”. Draw lines between the marks, to create your cutting template. Using a circular saw, cut the board.
- On the cut edges of the side and bottoms boards, drill 3 holes along each side (6 total per board). Make the hole about 1/2” from the cut edge. For the top, drill 4 holes, 2 on each side on the factory (uncut) edge.
- On a flat surface, place the front and back boards with the 24” edge down, so that the boards are upside down. There should be a 8 1/2” - 8 3/4” space between the boards. Lay the bottom board in place on top of the front and back boards, and screw in place, carefully keeping the face boards square. Test the width of your bait hive by placing your top bars in between the face boards. They should fit easily, but not have any spaces between the top bars. Now, screw in each side board, carefully keeping the width of your box consistent.
- Drill out an entrance hole on the bottom of one of the sides. Round the edges of the hole a bit to give a nice, funnel - like opening.
- Paint around the opening of the hive with just a bit of white paint. Once this paint is dry, add some lines and decorations around the opening with your yellow highlighter. Bees can see fluorescent colors very well, and having a contrasting color around the entrance will make it easier for the swarm scouts to find the front door.
- Put your top bars in your hive. Attach the pieces of sheet metal on each side to prevent the top bars from moving or shifting.

Step 2: Bee Lure

- Heat a small glass jar in a saucepan.
- When the water is simmering, place 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1" cube of beeswax in the glass jar. Stir constantly.
- Once the wax is melted, turn off the heat. Place about 15-20 drops of lemongrass oil in the wax/olive oil mixture, and stir well.
- Once it's cool, rub a bit of the bee lure on each top bar in your bait hive, and a bit around the entrance. You don’t need much, just a dab.

Step 3:

- Set up the bait hive in a good bee location, one that has water, plenty of flowers, and is not disturbed by humans.
- Place the hive between 8 and 15 feet high. Putting the hive in a tree or on a roof works well.
- The hive should not be in full, direct sunlight, but a bit of broken shade works well.
- Face the entrance of the hive towards the sun, being South in the Northern Hemisphere, and North in the Southern Hemisphere.
- If you have a bit of old brood comb, it is good to place this in your bait hive as well.

Once you set your hive, leave it alone for 2-3 weeks. When you go check on your hive, just look at it from a distance, try not to handle it very much. You can add more bee lure every once in a while, like every month or so.



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    11 Discussions

    very good, actually! I just caught a swarm today!

    Get to know the other beekeepers in your area, find out if there is a bee club. Also, put your name on swarm call lists, like with local animal/pest control companies, the police, firemen, etc. So, whenever someone spots a swarm in your town, they will call you to come get it! Free Bees!


    6 years ago on Step 3

    This is great information. I have read up on chasing down swarms and gathering for a new hive but that only works if your lucky enough to spot a swarm and then, free to tramp a path where they go. Not so easy for everyone. This, is amazing and any one can do it! Do you see any problem of just using this as a permanent hive?

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 3

    it is a bit small for a permanent hive, in my opinion. For a permanent hive, you could make the sides longer.

    Better yet, build the hive that this was made for:

    Thank you. I followed your link and that was great also. I had read about the top bar hives and plan on using something like that. Awesome info! thank you.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This will work a treat!  I use 5 frame nucleus hives for the swarm traps.

    Using top bars, I have problems with the swarms building crazy comb.  If you don't define the point were the bees hang the comb, they'll hang it whatever way they like.  Then it will be a mess taking the bars out!  I spend some time laying a beeswax soaked cotton string along the center of the bars and fastening it with melted wax.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    if you look at our top bar hive, you can see how we make our top bars:


    6 years ago on Introduction

    It is illegal in some states to keep bees in non removable frames.
    This is because of the need to inspect for disease.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    yeah, top bars are removable, but even in states where frames are required, there are usually a minimum amount of hives required.

    join a local bee club to get the scoop in your area!