DIY Bee Vacuum

Capture a swarm of honeybees with this DIY nuc vacuum.

| March/April 2018

  • The nuc vac, shown here with the hive super between the boxes. Secure with ratchet straps.
    Photo by Carol J. Alexander
  • On this line, mark 4 or 5 points, evenly spaced for screws.
    Photo by Carol J. Alexander
  • Using a jigsaw, cut out the rectangle by inserting the jigsaw blade into the pre-drilled holes.
    Photo by Carol J. Alexander
  • Apply strips of the foam insulation along the edge of the rectangular opening you just created.
    Photo by Carol J. Alexander
  • Run a thick bead of caulk along the bottom edge of the box. While still wet, lay the piece of screening on to cover the bottom of the box. Press it into the wet caulking.
    Photo by Carol J. Alexander
  • The cover for the hive vacuum.
    Photo by Carol J. Alexander
  • Drill a hole the size of the hose that came with your vacuum.
    Photo by Carol J. Alexander
  • Place plywood D in “bottom” box diagonally from top to bottom. Wedge it in tightly. Screw in place.
    Photo by Carol J. Alexander
  • Cut a small rectangle of plywood large enough to screw over the hole. Cut a slot in it that will slide around a bolt. Fix this cover to the box with one bolt. Drill hole and insert a second bolt opposite the first.
    Photo by Carol J. Alexander
  • Ol' Gritty usually throws caution to the wind; and it usually comes back to bite him in the rear.
    Illustration by Brad Anderson Illustration

Five years ago, when my son and I took beekeeping classes, we purchased our first nuc of bees for $50. This year, hive nucs are going for $150. With a rapid increase in the number of beekeepers in the nation, demand has driven up the cost of all things necessary for this already pricey hobby — including the bees themselves.

If a person is willing and able to remove swarms though, bees are free for the taking. In fact, some folks will pay you to remove bees from inside their home or on their property. But if the bees have entered the ceiling joists through a bathroom vent, as one swarm we removed last spring had, you will need a “bee vacuum” to contain the bees before tearing out the drywall. And a bee vac is another piece of pricey equipment — unless you build your own.

The following bee vac uses a bucket vacuum we purchased new, a hive super we already had, and two more boxes I show how to build here.

To create the boxes that turn your hive super into a bee vac, follow these instructions.

Materials & Cut List


• 1 12-foot 1-by-8 pine board
• 1 4-by-8 sheet of 1⁄2-inch plywood
• 1 161⁄4-by-20 piece of 1⁄8-inch hardware cloth or metal window screen
• 1 shop vac or bucket vacuum with 5-gallon bucket
• 15-30 feet of 2-inch vacuum hose
• 1 10-frame beehive super, with frames and foundation
• 1 ratchet strap
• 1 tube of silicone caulking
• 16 feet of foam window/door insulation strip
• 1 bottle wood glue
• 1 box of 15⁄8-inch screws
5/15/2018 7:18:55 PM

I used the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own bee vacuum – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)

5/14/2018 9:26:10 PM

I'm a new-bee. What's a super and what's it for?

5/14/2018 9:26:09 PM

I'm a complete new-bee, so what's a super and what is it for, please?

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