Swarm Traps (Swarm Box, Bait Hive)

What is a Swarm trap?

A swarm trap is a hive-like box that is attractive to swarming bees. It is also referred to as a 'bait hive', or 'swarm box'. Technically it is not a trap, rather an enticing place for bees to call home. It has been said that the swarm may have an idea of where they are going before they leave the parent hive.

By having a protective swarm box available in your garden, prior to the start of the swarm season, the honeybees are more likely to move into the swarm box than your home when they swarm. Due to the tested design, and honeybee swarm lure the scout bees are very likely to select the swarm box as their permanent home.

Many seasons of research have gone into our swarm box design and lure to ensure that the internal dimensions, and smell, is highly desirable to honeybees. Of course we cannot give a 100% guarantee but the chances of the swarm going to the swarm box is much greater than if you do not have a swarm box!

swarm boxes are a great talking point and very educational. We are happy to answer any questions when we come to reset the swarm box.

honeybee hive in wall

A Swarm trap / Swarm Box / Bait hive, ready to be hung on tree, fence or other suitable structure

Does having a swarm box make me a Bee Keeper?

The short answer is : No, but ...

You must be registered in order to keep bees for longer than 30 days in New Zealand. It costs about $50 per year for a single apiary, and there are inspection requirements, and disease returns to complete. More information for new beekeepers

You do not require any registration to host a honeybee swarm box - as long as you do not keep the bees for longer than 30 days. If we empty your swarm box within 30 days there is no requirement for you to be registered.

How do I get a swarm box?

We design, build and rent swarm boxes. Each swarm box requires a $100.00 deposit which covers the swarm box and lure. We are happy to cover the cost of emptying and resetting the swarm box whenever you catch a swarm. At the end of the swarm season (Dec/Jan) we will refund the $100 if the swarm box is returned in good condition. Call or email us and we will arrange for delivery and placement of the swarm box if required.

Note that when you capture a swarm we will usually take the entire swarm box away with us, replacing it with an empty swarm box which has been reset with lure and ready to protect your home.

Where should I place the swarm box?

The swarm box should be hung approx. 2m* above the ground where it can be seen by the honeybees for the entire swarm season (from Sept until Jan each year), and then either returned for a refund or closed and stored away until the next swarm season. It is best if the swarm box is facing north in a warm sunny spot, but this is not 100% necessary.

It is recommended to add fresh honeybee lure each month to ensure it remains as attractive as possible. We supply the lure and instructions with the swarm box.

*The height is not critical; however, we recommend approximately 2m to minimise disturbance from children and animals, and still allow the swarm box to be easily lifted down once occupied. Easily situated on a wooden fence or similar.
honeybee hive in wall

A Swarm box place on a garden fence

How do I know if I've caught a swarm?

You may see the amazing sight of a swarm entering the swarm box. A cloud of bees will cluster around the box and start to land on it, covering the front and may even hang underneath like a huge beard. The bees will then ‘march’ into the box over the next 10 to 20 minutes as the cloud diminishes.

If you do not see the swarm entering the swarm box you will still see bees flying in and out of the entrance once occupied. To determine whether these are just scout bees (bees investigating a swarm box before moving in), or whether a swarm has occupied the swarm box, have a look at the swarm box in the middle of the day. If there is a steady stream of bees coming and going, and those returning are carrying POLLEN on their legs, then the swarm box is very likely to be occupied. If there are a handful of bees running around the front and not really flying in or out, it is likely to be scout bees so check again in another 24 hours!

If a huge swarm arrives, and all the bees do not fit in your swarm box (unlikely but can happen), please let us know as soon as possible. We will bring some additional equipment and transfer them into a larger box.

What do I do when I catch a swarm?

Contact us and we will arrange an evening to reset your swarm box (swap your full box for an empty one). We do this at sunset, after the bees have come home from work, so that these bees out collecting are not left behind (as they will die).


If you need fast, friendly and professional swarm removal, give us a call.
We have the necessary specialised equipment for a fuss free removal and can help answer any questions you may have.