Artifact of the Month

Bee Trap
Donated by Bill Stamper

Bee trap, circa 1950s
Bee trap, circa1950s

This artifact came to us identified as a bee trap. Thanks to some clues provided by our good friend Dr. Donald Steinkraus, professor of entomology at the University of Arkansas, we can further identify the trap as a circa 1950s "queen and drone trap." Here's a link to a patent for a similar trap.

The trap was installed across the entrance of a hive to confine the drones in the hive so that they could be disposed of or destroyed. It also prevented a queen bee from leaving a hive with an emerging swarm. Worker bees, which are smaller than drones and the queen, could still leave and re-enter the hive with nectar and pollen.

This type of trap was used when most beekeepers believed that the number of drones in a hive should be reduced since drones eat a lot of honey and don't produce any--that too many drones are a drain on the hive. Some current studies show the opposite to be true--that limiting the number of drones can actually harm the health of a hive. Many beekeepers today follow the philosophy that, if given the proper environment, a healthy hive will keep its drone numbers in balance without the need of human intervention.

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