Bee Trap-Out

A trap-out is when you trap bees out of their home. In most cases, that's probably a tree. When bees make their home somewhere close to people, it can be dangerous to the people, or to the bees. One option is to do a cut-out, but that risks destroying property, such as a wall or tree.

An unassuming Catalpa tree


  1. Move quickly
  2. Use netting, staples, duct tape, lemongrass oil
  3. Take a frame of brood and a frame of honey from an existing hive for your swarm box. Empty frames are good too.
  4. Completely secure the entrance except for a funnel exit

When you need to execute a trap-out, my ideal is to use thin wire netting/mesh from the hardware store with a stapler. But you can use whatever you have. In this case, I had netting, duct tape, and 1" screws.

A 2ft tall hole in the base of the tree

If they have just nested in their hive, moving quickly is more likely to work than waiting days before an attempt. You want to provide them with a better alternative before they have comb and brood – reasons to stay.

Dab a couple dots of lemongrass oil at the entrance of your trap-out box if you like, like any swarm catching. But the real attraction is to put a frame of brood and a frame of honey in the swarm box. With your swarm box prepared this way, you may not need to do anything else. The colony might simply realize your box is a better home. But to be sure (it is time-sensitive), I recommend closing their entrance.

Create a funnel with a small tip about the size of a US dime, and secure it to the entrance of the existing hive. Then cover all areas around the funnel, so that bees can only exit through the funnel, and cannot enter at all.

The scene The scene from another angle

In these example pictures, the tree's bark was much too bumpy to effectively cut off entrances, and I was not bold enough when installing it. I should have shoved it into the hole as far as I could, instead of attempting to cut off a much larger area on the outside of the hole.

bees at the swarm box

These bees took interest in my comb and honey, but they managed to find ways back into their hive at the bottom of the mesh, so the trap-out was a failure.