I live in Blue Berry country so I see quite a bit of pollination traffic around the house.
My Uncle owns property along side one the bigger fields in the area. I've often thought about setting a few swarm traps up on his side just to see what I might catch when the commercial bee guys are setup there. I was telling my wife about this and she asked me if this was stealing. I explained that swarms happen, I would just be trapping what would be a loss either way.
Anyway, I thought I might ask here to see what you commercial guys would think if you saw a couple traps over yonder?
I'm not a commercial beekeeper, but I personally feel that once a swarm leaves a hive, the beekeeper has forfeited ownership of those bees by not managing them optimally. If the swarm happens to land in your hive instead of his, then you got lucky.
Plus there is the matter of trespassing, most guys wouldn't want to chasing swarms on somebody else's property without permission. Most commercial guys are to busy to be stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. You might even try to make the guys acquaintance, likely he has lots of orchards and may point out other swarms. Some may be receptive, some may not. As long as you have permission to be doing what your doing where you are doing it there is not much anybody can say.
If it is on your uncle's property, and with his permission, then it is perfectly legal and not stealing. If they land on your uncle's property, they are his.
Consider that any of those swarms went into a cavity in your uncle's house, that swarm would be his problem, not the beekeeper's at that point.
I'm not sure of generalities, the most pollinators on the farms that I know of don't want or care about the swarms and would be more than happy to let you have them. One older gentleman in our beekeeping club was describing a situation where he got called to a blueberry farm and there were something like 20 or 30 swarms in various trees, and he was welcome to take them all. Often the farmers want to get rid of these swarms as soon as possible too.
However, it is always a good idea if you get a chance to go over and talk to the farmer and the beekeeper if possible. Not only will you probably get the good wishes for you action, you may also find somebody that is very helpful and will help out if you need it. But if you are worried about it, swarm traps in inobtrusive places are still legal.
Most commercial beeks I know are too busy to go around collecting swarms. We try and keep them from swarming with splits and giving them lots of room in the hives but if they swarm don't expect the commercial beek to run around looking for them. If you happen to find one...good luck with it...keep it...its yours.
For a beekeeper to object to someone collecting a swarm that resides on your's or someone else's property would be a little disconcerting to me. It would have the potential to set a precedent that a beekeeper is responsible when bees take up residence in unwanted places. The fact of the matter is that no matter how well we manage our hives, swarms are a reality. It is part of the bee's biology and we cannot entirely prevent it. Any beekeeper who took the approach that a swarm of bees on someone else's property was "his" would in my opinion be setting himself up for all kinds of possible legal problems. Sneaking into someones apiary and pulling a couple of nucs would certainly be looked upon as stealing, both by the beekeeper and by the authorities. Attracting passing swarms to settle in equipment on ones own property (or another's property where you have permission) is an age old method of acquiring hives and I can't think of any justification for a beekeeper objecting to it in any situation.
PS: I can think of one possible scenario that you might want to avoid, if you see that a beekeeper (or anyone else for that matter) has set his/their own swarm traps, don't put your traps on the fence right next to his. While it is probably not illegal, I think it could be considered "bad form" and would present a potential for conflict (find a tree or other perch that is well on your side of the fence instead).
I never thought there were any real legal issues, I just wasn't sure if there was some sort of beekeeper's etiquette I wasn't aware of.
The Farmer is one of the big BB Freezers around here, I haven't a clue who's Bee's they are, it could change every year, field to field.
It will be interesting, I'm going to hang a few NUCs out there and see what I end up with.
One time, I was set off in a pasture and the bees had a beeline going to a nearby orange grove. A fellow drenched a fence post right in the beeline with pherenome and all my young bees would stop and hang on the post. There were tracks where the guy would drive by each day and shake 4 to 6 lbs of bees a day. Other people in the neighborhood found the same thing. That was bee rustling. We think he was the same guy they found stealing 4 to 6 hives at a time from bee yards. The judge only gave the guy 90 days in county jail but some how his house burned while he was in jail. That said, I would not check my bees while they were in almonds and if they did swarm while I was away, good luck to the new owner.
I've never heard of that before, that does sound like rustling!
Originally Posted by jjgbee
I was going to bait them either with lemon grass oil or maybe splurge and go for one of the commercial concoctions.