DIY Fish Box Swarm Trap

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DIY Fish Box Swarm Trap

Post by voelkeref »

Hi everyone,

So I am a new beek here in Guilford County, coming down from Northern Virginia last year. My old beekeepers association sent out an email this spring [I'm still on the mailing list, they share good information] about swarm traps and making your own. Specifically there was one design from Jim Fischer up in New York that got a bunch of traction.

The design was using a used seafood box. The boxes are waxed cardboard and so can withstand the elements, they don't smell of fish due to the wax and the ice, and are approximately the size of a 10 frame deep. Though you can fill it with whatever frames you have, and however many you want.

I would post images, but I do not have the images hosted on a website or have a hyperlink. [Bonus of switching to email chains or facebook].
But basically they take coat hangers and put them inside the box to be able to hold frames. One side of the box's handholds is turned into an entrance, the other is turned into a ventilation hole [screen put over it].
These boxes can hold up to 50lbs of frozen fish and ice, so should be able to hold a swarm and frames pretty handily.

There is more information in the email about how to attach the traps to vertical locations.

Bonus is that these traps can be folded flat for winter, and then redeployed in the spring.

I have been in touch with 1618 Fish and Grill, and they have waxed cardboard boxes. I am going by this evening to check it out, and will see what they are like.
They will have plenty more in future, and the manager said she would call me when they have a box. Happy to act as correspondent and organizer for getting these boxes to create swarm traps for future.

Guard bee
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Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:36 pm
Location: Greensboro, NC

Re: DIY Fish Box Swarm Trap

Post by Jacobs »

Eliot, if you want to text me a photo (336-740-1703) or e mail one to me (, I'll be happy to add it to your post for you.
Guard bee
Posts: 1723
Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 12:36 pm
Location: Greensboro, NC

Re: DIY Fish Box Swarm Trap-E Mail & Photos

Post by Jacobs »

Date: Mon, Mar 22, 2021 at 7:33 PM
Subject: Make Your Own Fish Box Swarm Trap

Hi all --
Meet swarm season head-on (like a shrimp!) with a seafood box swarm Trap.
DCBA is doing a Swarm Trap Project this year (members out there: you should have gotten the email Sunday!) which will use two designs. One is spendy and made of wood and weighs a lot, the other is cheaper, lighter, and will fold flat for winter storage.
That is the design you are going to see here, in case you want to build one.
seafoodbox.jpg (33.74 KiB) Viewed 4654 times
The seafood box swarm trap originated in NY beekeeping with Jim Fischer. We have changed the design only slightly. The box is about the size of a 10-frame deep and is sourced from a seafood wholesaler in DC.
Why a seafood box? They are sturdy and heavily waxed, and they are food safe. Jim reports that they last for years. They do not smell like fish.
The boxes can hold 50 lbs of frozen fish, and they have drain holes and big handles we use for entrances and ventilation.
ProFish was delighted to help us out with this.
seafoodwithframe.jpg (30.43 KiB) Viewed 4654 times
This is the inside of the fish box. We made rails to hold frames out of cut up coat hangers (about 15.5”) and poked them through the sides. Coat hangers are easy to cut with even cheapo wirecutter plyers. For this size box, we counted seven ribs in the corrugated from each end and poked it through.
We bent the ends that stick out at a right angle with the plyers.
seafoodwithframe.jpg (30.43 KiB) Viewed 4654 times
We stapled screening from old packages (though anything would work) over the drainage holes, and slipped some more screen in between the cardboard layers to make a ventilation window out of one of the handles (Thank you, Patricia Lake!). There are holes on the opposite side, too.
seafoodvents.jpg (45.07 KiB) Viewed 4654 times

We used the other handle hole as the entrance to the fish trap, and poked a hole for a cable tie which can be used to pull the door closed if you catch a swarm
seafoodcabletiedoorpull.jpg (46.27 KiB) Viewed 4654 times

Door closed
seafooddoorclosed.jpg (37.56 KiB) Viewed 4654 times
DCBA bought 8-packs of tie downs for $2 each in order to attached the swarm trap to vertical places. We just cut two slits with a utility knife and wove it in. Make sure to put the strap below the entrance/ventilation window level of the box
seafoodtopview.jpg (36.05 KiB) Viewed 4654 times
There’s room for many frames of drawn comb. We plan on providing one per trap, spritzed with Swarm Commander, to each participant. They are also encouraged to add additional comb and foundation of their own to the seafood box.
It’s also possible to position seafood box trapped on top of garage roofs, etc., without tying them to anything, but you want to make sure they can’t blow.
If I get one near my house, I will be adding a wifi enabled sensor to alert me to possible tenants.
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