Here is a good one....

I was out winterizing an apiary last week when I needed to turn my truck around along a field. So I drove a little further on the dirt path than normal, due to the rain and mud. I then noticed some old looking hive boxes at the edge of the hedge row. Walking over and remembering that this particular farmer had kept bees at one time, I looked a little closer thinking it may of been abandoned equipment. I was surprised and excited when one of the hives was active with bees. My first thought was that a swarm had taken up residency in the old equipment.

As I was working on my hives the farmer approached and I mentioned about the old hives and the bees. This is where it got good. He says "Me and my boy caught a swarm and since we had some old equipment in the barn, we caught it and decided to keep it." He had no plans on informing me and if I didn't see them I'm sure he would of said nothing.

I asked where the swarm was caught. He said it was on a bush (Within 100 ft.) of my hives. But he was certain it couldn't be from my hives. I asked where the nearest apiary was. He had no answer.

I informed him that although he paid for pollination services, and allowed me to leave the bees there at my convenience, notification of myself was needed to ensure proper management and allowed me to keep my prices reasonable by replacing hive loss through catching swarms instead of buying packages, etc. I also informed him that I would be back Saturday to pull my hives as I would never keep bees in a location with someone elses bees. His equipment was nasty and I mentioned there was no way to ensure his equipment was desease free. Afterall, he lost his hives several years ago to mites/desease.

I guess he thought catching my swarms to build up his apiary was his right.

This past Saturday he met me at 6 a.m. as I loaded the bees. He mentioned that the swarm was mine if I thought I could use them. He also asked if I would be back in the spring as I mentioned that I normally centralize my hives over winter for ease of control. Knowing that I was on his property WITHOUT a contract, I said I'd give him a call.

Bottom line is this. He is the proud owner of a swarm that will be dead by spring. And he will also be looking for a new beekeeper.