4.4.3. Types of dead bee traps

Many dead bee traps have been designed for Langstroth and Dadant type hives but currently the Todd, Gary, Münster and underbasket dead bee traps are the most frequently used (Table 16) (Illies et al., 2002; Porrini et al., 2002a). However, preliminary data on the performance of an experimental dead bee trap called the barrier trap indicates high efficiency (Porrini et al., 2002b). In addition to existing traps, Hendriksma and Härtel (2010) constructed an entrance trap made of plastic ice cream containers that can be used for risk assessment in small hives.   

There are several fundamental requirements for the design of a dead bee trap. They are reported in the Table 16 for each trap model and in section 4.3.4. for the general case.

Table 16. Different types of dead bee traps being used in honey bee studies with their main characteristics, their pros and cons.

GARY TRAP (Gary, 1960)

figure1 table16

Front view of Gary trap, modified from Gary (1960)

According to Gary (1960) the trap can be used for long-term experiments without affecting colony activity and/or the consistency of the information recorded.    


Pros: Efficient collection (84.6%) of dead bees (Gary, 1960).


Cons: This trap unfortunately detains large numbers of live bees resulting in increased mortality rates and it modifies the behaviour of the undertaker bees (Illies et al., 2002).

TODD TRAP (Atkins et al., 1970; Stoner et al., 1979)


figure2 table16

Side view of Todd trap, modified from Atkins et al. (1970)

Modifications were made to the trap that permitted the drainage of rain and irrigation water (Atkins et al., 1970).

Pros: This trap is reported to be efficient (90-95%) at preventing the elimination of dead bees (Atkins et al., 1970; Herbert et al., 1983).


Cons: Compared to other traps the Todd trap seems to be more difficult to clean from debris by the experimenter.

MÜNSTER DEAD BEE TRAPS (Illies et al., 1999, 2002)








 figure3 table16

Side view of Münster trap, modified from Illies et al. (2002)

Pros: The entrance of this trap does not interfere with normal flight behaviour and bees adjust quickly to this trap (Illies et al., 1999, 2002). Recovery amounts to 76.4% of dead bees (Illies et al., 2002). The trap also prevented predators from removing dead bees and provided shelter from wind (Illies et al., 1999).


Cons: The recovery rate is relatively low compared to the other traps mentioned here. 

UNDERBASKET (Accorti et al., 1991; Porrini et al., 2002a)


figure4 table16


Side view of underbasket modified from Porrini et al. (2003)

The trap does not form part of the hive and is located on the ground underneath the hive opening (Accorti et al., 1991; Porrini et al., 2002a).


Pros: Underbasket traps are easy to attach and clean. They seem to be highly efficient and do not interfere with undertaker bees’ activities (Accorti et al., 1991). A dead bee recovery rate of 71-96% was recorded in this trap (see Porrini et al., 2002a)


Cons: The trap is very exposed to the environment and predators.


TRAP FOR SMALL TEST HIVES (Hendriksma and Härtel, 2010)




figure5 table16





Side view of small trap modified from Hendriksma and Härtel (2010)

Pros: This is the first trap developed for small hives. Hendriksma and Härtel (2010) recorded a dead bee recovery rate of 93%. It seems easy to attach and clean, sounds highly efficient and does not interfere with normal hive behaviour. Most of all, it is very cheap to construct (Hendriksma and Härtel, 2010).


Cons: This hive needs further testing