Inside: You can spend lots of money on commercial swarm lures, but there are better alternatives. Try using a dead queen’s pheromones to attract your next swarm.
Tincture of queen is made of queen bees soaked in alcohol
To make queen liqueur or tincture of queen, beekeepers soak recently dead or pinched queens in a small vial of rubbing alcohol. The alcohol preserves the queen and, supposedly, her pheromones as well.
Come swarm season, a beekeeper can wet a cotton ball with the juice, place the cotton in a baggie with a few small holes punched through, and put the homemade swarm lure in a swarm trap or bait hive.
Use tincture of queen like any other swarm lure
The alcohol dissolves the queen’s pheromones from the dead bee. Placed in a swarm trap, it draws swarms in much the same way as any other swarm lure. Some references recommend that you re-wet the cotton every few days, and some say to put an entire preserved queen in the plastic bag instead of just a few drops of tincture.
I have never tried this. Alcohol evaporates quickly, so I can’t imagine it would stay effective for long. And, if you’re like me, you seldom have a lot of extra queens lying about. Still, it is an exciting idea, and I would rather use dead queens for a good purpose than toss them to the birds. Reports from other beekeepers say it works like magic.
Everclear doesn’t have the poisons contained in rubbing alcohol
Speaking of alcohol, if you can find it in your area, use Everclear instead of rubbing alcohol. It doesn’t have the chemicals added that make alcohol undrinkable, chemicals that are probably not good for bees. You can usually buy it in liquor stores at either 120 or 151 proof. Everclear also comes in 190 proof, but it’s illegal in some states.
If you have ever used this method of making a swarm lure, I’d love to hear about it. Thanks!
Honey Bee Suite