At least here in Western North Carolina, bees are in such high demand in the spring, it’s very difficult to get all you need from local sources. This year, I’m determined to be ready for the swarm season when it comes around in early spring. With any luck, I’ll be able to entice some feral colonies into a carefully placed box, from which I can then begin to rebuild the apiary’s winter losses–hopefully with regional genetics from feral colonies althoug these days, especially with the high concentration of bee keepers in Buncombe County where I live, there’s a good chance you may just be catching swarms from other beekeeper’s hives, which may or may not have locally tuned genes.
Here are some plans for relatively easy to make, and fairly light weight boxes that fit Langstroth frames or if you use top bar plans smart enough to match top bar length and height to Langstroth frames, top bars can fit as well.
The February meeting of the Asheville Bee-Centric Alliance will focus on the topic of catching feral swarms in the hopes of increasing the population of hives with regionally tuned genetics. We’ll also be talking about strategies to catch them, when and where to place your boxes, how often to check them, and what to do when you catch a swarm.
If there’s enough interest, we may even have a hand-on workshop focused on building swarm-catcher boxes using the plans above.
If you’re a top bar bee keeper, I’ve built several two foot long hives with the express purpose of catching swarms using the plans from a previous post here:
I just eliminated the viewing window and reduced the dimensions by two feet. So far, this is the best set of plans I’ve found for top bar hives. The combs that come out of these hives have a handsome look, the proportions just seem right. And there are many smart touches, including insuring the top bars them selves fit inside a Langstroth box, so some level of ‘interchange’ is possible–an invaluable touch. Whatever design you use for your top bar hive, keeping the bar lengths at 19 inches will serve you well in the long run.