Honeybees rely heavily on smell. For a trapout, the beekeeper uses this to their advantage. A mesh cone is put over the entrance of the hive they’ve made inside your structure. The wire is fine enough that the bees can’t fly or crawl through it, but steel wool may be needed to fill in any gaps. Bees can’t chew their way through the wire mesh or steel wool. Bees coming out of the hive crawl to the tip of the funnel and fly away to forage. Upon their return, they fly to the base of the funnel. They can both see and smell the entrance to their hive through the mesh, but aren’t smart enough to figure out how to get back in at the narrow end of the funnel.
A secondary weak hive, which is a small queenright colony of bees, is placed very nearby. As days go by and the now homeless forager bees accept that they cannot return to their original hive, they will eventually go to the secondary hive and join forces. Over the next few weeks, the beekeeper has to make visits to ensure additional boxes are added to the secondary hive in a timely manner in order to accommodate the growing population.
To understand why the process takes up to six weeks, you need to understand a little bit about honeybee biology. A queen lays an egg. Twenty-one days later a worker bee emerges. However, a brand new honeybee doesn’t forage. It’s what we call a nurse bee, or house bee. Its job is to tidy the inside of the hive and care for larva. This website explains in two paragraphs everything you need to know (https://bees.msu.edu/lab/research/ai.html). When the mesh funnel is first put on the trapout hive in your structure, the only bees you’re getting rid of are the older forager bees. Younger nurse bees that haven’t yet graduated to foraging are still inside along with all the unhatched larva. Over the next few weeks, bees are born and become nurse bees. The ones that were nurse bees when the mesh cone was put on graduate to become foragers and get trapped out. Over time, the trapout colony is weakened and the bait hive is strengthened.
Once the secondary hive is packed with new troops, it’s time to use the honeybee’s natural behavior to our benefit. In nature, strong hives rob weaker hives, especially when food sources are scarce. So, once pretty much all foragers from the trapout hive have joined forces with the secondary hive, you remove the mesh cone and let nature take its course. Foragers from the now super-strong secondary hive will go back into the now easy-to-access trapout hive and rob it of all honey and nectar. You’d be amazed at how quickly that can take place! The robbing process typically takes less than a day. Unfortunately, the queen from the trapout hive will likely be killed during the robbing. Such is life. Mother Nature can be harsh. Once the robbing is over, the beekeeper can take the bait hive back home to their apiary. This is done after dusk or on a day when the temperature is below 50 degrees. Bees don’t fly after dark or when it’s cold and we want to make sure to move the hive once all foragers are back inside, not while they’re out working.
- Less costly for the property owner as compared to cutouts
- Not as labor intensive as a cutout
- Less destructive to the home/structure
- Trapouts take longer, up to 6 weeks and require multiple visits
- The queen and some brood from the hive been trapped out usually perish
- The honeycomb and some brood are left behind
NOTE – Once the trapout process is complete, it is imperative that the property owner seal up all entrances of trapped out hive.
Initial Assessment: $50 (can be applied to trapout cost)
• Confirm you have honeybees
• Use infrared camera to help determine hive location
• Plan and schedule removal procedure
Trapout: $300 – $500
• I keep the bees
• You are responsible for sealing up the entrance after bee removal