Bjorn Apiaries

On this page you will find information of particular equipment and management practices that will help you become a better beekeeper. 

This page contains:

1) Swarm Trap Success

2) Queen Excluders


3) Screened Bottom Boards


4) Tube Entrances 

1) Swarm Trap Success

The following suggestions are based on studies on swarm trap research. They are suggestions based on improving your success and to optimize your efforts. Many beekeepers have caught swarms in just about any kind of trap, in conditions less than ideal to the bees. The suggestions are based on studies that have shown bees have particular preferences, and will choose one trap over another IF multiple sites are available to the honey bees.


Honey Bees…..

* prefer a swarm trap (colony location) about 8 to 15 feet off the ground.

* will disregard a trap with light coming in from above.

* prefer a trap equivalent to a cavity size slightly larger than a deep brood


* will select sites in the afternoon shade. They may abandon a site within 

  a few days if in full sun and heat is an issue.

* prefer bait hives with entrances facing south.

* prefer a entrance towards the bottom of the cavity.

* prefer a unobstructed flight path from the entrance.

* will not take up residence in a bait hive that has other insects in them.

  Keep them free of wasps, yellow jackets, etc.

* prefer a bait hive that is dry.

* prefer a previously used site that has a honey bee smell of old comb, or

  one that has baited with bee scent.


Please Note: When using Bjorn Swarm Lures, place one tube in each trap. Punch a hole in the top and secure the tube to the side of the trap with a pin. You can also remove the top and push a cotton ball into the tube. This allows the scent to emit for months. Swarm lures can be found on the products page. Click here. 

2)  Queen Excluders


Many beekeepers call queen excluders “Honey Excluders“ and probably for good reason. Used improperly, or without a full understanding of how to use a queen excluder, it is easy to understand their less than positive results and opinion. The following are steps we take at Bjorn Apiaries to use queen excluders for the results we desire.


One of the keys to our success is the use of upper entrances on the brood boxes. Half way up the upper brood box, we have a ¾ inch entrance drilled in our boxes. Many times, prior to placing supers on, the bees are using these upper entrances come spring. We also have holes in our supers. So after placing the excluders on the hive, then the supers, we will plug the hole in the brood box. All the returning field bees are not kept from using this hole. And the bees naturally adjust to the hole in the super which is above the queen excluder. So within minutes of placing super on with queen excluders, we have bees entering the hive above the excluder.


Another trick is the use of flat plastic queen excluders. We place them 90 degrees from the normal position usually recommended. This allows a one inch gap at the from of the hive and another at the back. This allows the bees to travel back and forth between the brood chamber and the honey supers without actually going through the excluders. Very rarely will the queen go to the edge of the box and travel around the edge of the queen excluder.


We have found that taking honey off after the main flow, then doing summer splits, allows us to requeen, increase our numbers, and get the hives in the configuration they will go through winter. The days long ago of huge fall honey harvests are far and few in between. Since we want to take our honey off at the end of June, we do not want brood in our supers.


Wax moth damage is also much lower and easily managed when you do not allow your bees to raise brood in your supers. This is part of our IPM and non-chemical approach to healthier hives.

3) Screened Bottom Boards (SBB)


There seems to much conflicting information on the effectiveness of screen bottom boards. Several studies have looked into whether they suppress mite counts and are effective in controlling mites. Two studies have shown a reduction of 5% in one study, and as much as 17% in the other. Since statistically, the 5% falls within the margin of error or the statically variation of what research uses as a level to declare something a success, screen bottom boards are seen by some as a failure. We see things a bit different when it comes to the benefits of screen bottom boards in our own infield use of this equipment. (Of course one should discount any results of screen bottom board studies, that did not focus on using bees with good hygienic behavior and grooming traits. To use SBB with the best effectiveness, bees able to groom and dislodge mites is a must. And to date, I have not been able to confirm the quality of the bees used in the study.)

From our experience, screen bottom boards allow:

* A means of doing mites counts via the IPM (Integrated Pest Management) board that many now have built into the SBB. This ability to do mite counts is educational and expands the ability to properly manage mites and other issues in the hive. 

* Screen bottom boards also add ventilation (moisture control) to the hive. In feral colonies, the natural tree cavity and limited nest volume keep colony size smaller than what most beekeepers strive to achieve in producing honey. Beekeepers manipulate managed hives to reach peak numbers of 50-60,000 bees, while suppressing swarming with expanded cavity size via adding supers, as well as other factors making the colony drastically different than what bees achieve in the wild. Far larger amounts of nectar is collected in managed hives as compared to feral colonies. 

* A means of temperature control. The r-value of a cavity in the wild is far different than that of a poorly constructed hive utilizing 1 inch standard pine with an r-value of 1. The much thicker wood of the tree used in a feral colony helps regulate temperature both in the winter and summer. The sun on a hive in the summer makes for additional ventilation a real benefit to the bees in managed hives.

Beekeeping today comes down to an overall management philosophy. There are no magic bees, hives, or single way of keeping bees. If using screen bottom boards lowers the mite levels by 5%, we will be glad to take that 5%, giving the bees the best chances of survival. Combined with genetic selection, other equipment options, and timely management, SBB are a vital piece of equipment.

We once gave a talk called "Building a Silver Bullet, one B-B at a Time". The talk was centered around all the different small items that gave bees a better chance of survival. SBB was one of those items. If your thinking SBB will handle all your mite problems, or think that by using them, all your losses will end, you will be disappointed. But combined with a bunch of other "5%" items, using screen bottom boards can help lower your winter losses.

4) Tube Entrances

How do you get a small nuc or observation hive through the fall season when robbing is greatly increased? Consider a tube entrance system. (See picture below)


Tube entrances without any landing area, can be easily defended by just a few guard bees. Robber bees are baffled and seldom take the chance of simply landing inside the tube entrance. They would rather swoop down, fly side to side testing the defence, and will land if they can on an entrance board. Take away the ability of the robbers to do what they normally do, and they are easily controlled by the defenders of the hive. The bees from the parent colony become very accustomed to using the tube.


Tubes can be installed on regular hives, nucs, and observation hives. The idea that hives need large open areas as seen with standard bottom boards is simply wrong. If we use standard bottom entrances, we use a 3/8 inch high and 5 inch long entrance on our full size hives. And have never had a problem restricting the entrance. The tubes we use are 1-1/4 inch diameter.