Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Trapping Bees out of a tree, without cutting the tree down.

Here's a real challenge! Can you get these bees out of the tree safely and successfully, without cutting down the tree? Mmmmm? How would you go about doing that? Lets learn!

See this old knot? On the left side of this knot, the bees are coming and going. First, find out if there are any other holes in the tree that they are using. If so, plug them with old rags, or cotton batting. Use the main hole that they are using to enter and exit.
Some of this old, flaky bark needs to be peeled off. Be sure to use your smoker a little bit, before you start digging at this bark. These bees where very nice, and didn't give me a hard time.
Another hole that they are using, got plugged up with cotton batting.
Before you begin, you need to make a Cone, from hardware cloth. The tip of the cone needs to be about as wide as a Pencil....rather small. Staple the Cone against the tree. Plug all gaps around the base of the Cone. This cone needs to be as level as possible. You'll need to create as smooth a surface as possible on the tree trunk.As soon as you get the cone properly secured, the bees will try really hard to "breech" your set up. See the bees on the cone above? They're feeding each other through the mesh cone. They'll try hard all day long to get through the base of the cone. Plug any gaps.When you set your Nuc up, it needs to be level with the hole in the tree. Use a folding table or cinder blocks, whatever, in order to get the Nuc level with this hole. In the back of the Nuc you need to have about an 1" wide hole, for your screened Tube to be inserted into the back of the Nuc. This tube is THE KEY. The other end of the tube needs to go OVER the outside tip of the Cone. Note; the tip of the Cone CAN NOT touch the inside of the tube. Otherwise, the bees will be able to travel back and forth. As long as the tip of this cone, doesn't touch the inside of the tube, the bees can't figure out how to get BACK INTO the becomes a ONE WAY trip. In the above picture, the Nuc box is too low, and I'll have to adjust it up, in order to level the Cone and Tube.
After surveying the situation, I need to get this table a bit higher. I used small flat stones to get the table higher and more level. Here's is the BIG TRICK; inside this Nuc box, is 4 brood frames that are FOUNDATION ONLY. The remaining 5th frame is a frame of brood, placed in the center of the Nuc, with another Queen on this brood frame. The bees come out of the tree, can't get back through the Cone, find that there is ANOTHER Queen inside this new box that needs help raising all this new found brood. These newly trapped workers then kick into gear INSTINCTIVELY and leave the FRONT side of the Nuc, go out and forage in order to care for their NEW QUEEN and brood, come back home and remain.
Notice that I have a jar of sugar water on the front porch. I'll keep a new jar of sugar water on this Nuc until I get all the bees caught out of the tree.
Get a good look at this set up. An old milk crate, a few old boards. The table that this is all setting on, is a folding plastic table that I bought at Wal-Mart for using at Farmers Market.
As the bees begin to fill the box, they'll add more and more weight to the table. This causes the table to sink into the ground. Over a 4 week period, I had to adjust the height of the Nuc 2 times. The weight of the bees put the table further into the soft soil. It may not be soft where you are, but this set up was classic. Keep this Nuc level with the hole in the tree!!
After a few weeks, I gently smoked the front of the Nuc and took off the lid for a short check on the bees. The Nuc was full of bees!! It was working! I could see that the bees where still coming out of the tree at this time, so I left them for another 2 weeks. I checked on them each week. But only opened them up once. If it's working, leave it alone. It took me 4 weeks to catch all these bees. The OLD QUEEN will remain inside the tree. She won't come out. We will sacrifice this old Queen. The end result? I was able to capture nearly all the bees out of this tree, over a 4 week period. It wasn't hard. I had to check on them 4 times. I didn't have to cut down a tree, and make a mess. And the owner of this land and tree was very pleased and excited. The tree was only 10 feet from their back porch. He even said I could cut the tree down and just suck up the bees if I wanted to do so. I prefer to trap them out, if possible. It's so much easier. A bit slower, not nearly as messy. Bees are calm and gave me no hassles. When it came time to take them home, I smoked them just a bit, and plugged the front with screen, and removed the tube in the back, covered the hole with Duct tape. Picked up all my gear and thanked the owner. They later got a few pints of honey for all their trouble. Everyone was happy. The bees got a new home. The beekeeper got some new bees, the easy way. And the land owner didn't have to hassle with anymore bees as he mowed his backyard.


  1. Thanks so much for giving me this link. I have the cone set up but it is aimed towards the hive entrance. I like your idea of sending all the bees thru the hive. Last time I checked I had plenty of bees in the hive but still had to plug a few holes in the cone. I have one frame of brood with a queen cell and bees were covering the brood. I'll check the cone again today to see if I have plugged all entrances.

  2. I do a similar thing, but leave the original hive intact.

    Try using your set up, but instead of a making the trip one-way, make it two-way, so that the bees can go back and forth between the nuc and the tree. And make it dark. I use PVC.

    When first making the set up, but a couple of frames of brood and stores in the nuc. The foragers will "tell" the queen about this location and she will come out and lay eggs in the nuc.

    When you have eggs and the queen is no longer in the nuc, take the nuc away and let the bees raise their own queen.

    Obviously this only works in a location where you can leave the bees. If the owner wants the bees gone a trap-out is appropriate. But I hate to lose the feral genetics which a trap out does.


  3. I am curious, in a situation like this if once you get out the majority of the bees why not introduce a bee honey harvest chemical into the hive cavity? It drives bees out of a honey super maybe it would force those last bees, and maybe the queen, to hi-tail it out of there too!

  4. so the bees just made a queen or did u put a queen with them

  5. I tried a trapout for a hive inside a cypress tree, and the workers found their way back into the tree through the exit at the tip of the cone. Is it common to happen?
    Please contact me at

  6. i have to do this for school i need more info

  7. what if you made two dark tubes - the first tube is one way out of the tree into the nuc, and the second tube is the one way back to the tree but thru a queen excluder - do you think you could coax the queen out of the tree and trap her in the nuc using this method?

  8. I am a beekeeper beginner but I am looking for Cone trap, where can I find it?

  9. Cone traps are super easy. I have my 4th running now. I have caught two of three queens this year. Take about 30 minutes to set up the way I do it. My cone funnels are heavy window screen wire and I use paper stapler to make it hold its shape. go to ABSOLUTE BEGINNER BEEKEEPERS on facebook and search "trapout" you can see some of the traps.