How to attract a queen honey bee

Are you wondering how to attract a queen honey beeA better question is how to be prepared to attract a queen honey bee.

Your end goal here is to set up another hive with bees from a strong gene pool who are locals. This means they have already adapted to the seasons and climate. This takes some guess work out of buying a nuc or package bees. This is how to attract a queen honey bee 

By preparing and setting up the ideal honey bee habitat you can lure the queen and her swarm to the location you want. 

how to attract a queen honey bee

Swarming Bees – What is it? 

Swarming – or moving out – is a natural occurrence and may happen for a variety of reasons.  Usually, in a healthy colony, swarming is due to overcrowding in the hive.  The queen and approximately half the hive population will leave with the intention of setting up a new hive.   

Getting yourself prepped before the swarm is on the move is imperative to catching and utilizing the swarm.   

When is Swarming Season? 

In the southern states you should be ready for a swarm around February.  Northern states, your swarms are more likely from May to June.  Everywhere else you should be ready in April.  Generally, this coincides with the ready availability of a food supply – flowering plants.   

Pay attention to the seasons.  Putting out a swarm trap too early can be an attractant to unwanted invaders, like wax moths. 

How Do I Know My Bees Are Ready to Swarm? 

Regular inspections when the temperatures are beginning to rise are essential. You’ll need to be able to identify your queen cups in your hive (also known as supersedure cells). These cells may be present year round but once they are capped it’s time for action. In addition to this, your queen will stop laying eggs. 

A capped supersedure cell and no freshly laid eggs mean it is definitely game on! It is time to attract the scouts, workers and the queen honey bee. 

What is A Bait Hive or Swarm Box?

A bait hive, or swarm trap, presents itself as the best option for the scout bees to relocate the swarming colony into a new habitat.  It is generally one of three things.  An existing, pre-used brood box, a homemade box not exceeding 100L capacity or a commercially purchased item fit for purpose.   

If you are using an old brood box make sure it hasn’t been cleaned and it has some wax and propolis present.  Ensure the entrance is reduced, you’re looking for about the size of a matchbox.   

A small entrance with some mesh installed is necessary to deter wasps and other nasties setting up camp.  The trick here is to install an internal lip to facilitate the installation of an old frame or twoCommercially made swarm traps have some definite advantages in attracting the honey bee queen and her swarm.

Namely, they are a purpose built product and this takes the guess work out of making your own. In addition to this, they are sturdy and can be reused season after season.

Both the featured East Coast Bees Honey Bee Swarm Trap and the Hitland Bee Swarm Trap/Catcher featured here are excellent products that are easy to install in your desired location and can be part of your plan on how to attract a queen honey bee. 

Honey Bee Swarm Trap with Frames and Swarm Lure By East Coast Bees

Hilitand Bee Swarm Trap/Catcher

Is the Queen Bee Interested in a Swarm Lure?

Swarm lures, sometimes known as pheromone lures, are used to make your swarm box more appealing to scout bees. So technically, no but they have a role in attracting a queen bee. These can be homemade or purchased commercially. The purpose of the lure is to mimic the Nasanov scent naturally produced by bees. Just another step in making your swarm box more attractive to your queen honey bee. 

Lemongrass Essential Oil (4oz) 

If you’re keen on the DIY approach then start with heating some old propolis or wax. When liquidized, add some lemongrass oil. Use this mixture to rub into the inside of your swarm box. This is an effective way to mimic the Nasanov scent to get those scout bees to check out your swarm box.    

Bee Bait Swarm Lure

If you’re purchasing a commercial lure, the advantages are that they are generally longer lasting than the homemade product. Try this swarm lure by Bee Bait.

That’s a wrap

The biggest factor when answering how to attract a queen honey bee is preparedness. The amount of time available after you know your bees are going to swarm is minimal. Getting the scouts, swarm and importantly the queen honey bee to form a new habitat that you choose is stressful enough.  Get organized and enjoy your bees.    


Happy Beekeeping and good luck catching a queen honey bee!