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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
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    1,015

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    By the law in most states once the swarm leaves the hive it belongs to the person who catches it and will become his property. But I agree with you I will not place my hives with someone elses hives due to the possible spread of diseases and mites. My bees are my living. Shame on you for not having a writen contract. He could also try to lay clame to your existing hives on his property and you may not have a legal leg to stand on.
    Clint

    ------------------
    Clinton Bemrose
    just South of Lansing Michigan

  3. #3
    BILLY BOB Guest

    Post

    Clint is right.

    Never put your hives anywhere without some type of writen agrement/contract.

    BB

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    It would probably be more of a pain if legal wrangling occurred. I agree with the contract and all. I will also say that I am guity of not always having a one.

    In Pa. we have to have an agriculture permit for maintaining apiaries. I have one, he does not.

    Each apiary site is GPS tracked and logged by the state. Owner is logged.
    I have phone records and cancelled/copies of checks, and for the most part trust the farmers I deal with. This was probably the exception.

    I am far more fearful of outright theft of hives. And if one farmer really wanted to claim my hives, he could move them and say he didn't know anything about it.

    With all that said, don't get me wrong. I agree with the contracts. And will reconsider it this coming year.

    question...Does anyone's contract deal with the area of hive theft on another persons property? And how is it handled? Thanks.

  5. #5
    BILLY BOB Guest

    Post

    Contracts are a legal binding agreement between two or more parties.

    If you can put whatever you want in them as long as you can get the other party to agree with it. If the farmer is willing or can put the hives on his insurance it should work.

    BB

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Lenexa, Kansas
    Posts
    445

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    I think that unless you discussed his calling you instead of taking the swarm himself, that you probably over-reacted a tad. You have probably had a successful relationship with this farmer for a year or more, and it is over because of something that you had never asked him to do?

    Of course, if he HAD discussed this with you and hadn't filled his part of the bargain, it is TOTALLY different because you do NOT want to do business with a dishonest person.

    But, unless the 2 of you had come to an agrement about this beforehand, I think you were probably to abrupt with this guy.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Now that I'm thinking about this more, I have come to the realization that I have not discussed certain items with my customers.

    I have never put it in a contract that they call me when after a storm, when a lid may be off.
    I didn't have it in a contract when some night joyriders through the orchards hit one of my hives and knocked it over. No mention in a contract.
    I never had a farmer say they didn't know to call me when a big ball of freaking bees are hanging in a tree.
    BUT THEY ALL DID.

    But I also didn't have it in a contract that I should call them when a fence is knocked down and the cows got out.
    Or when I had seen someone who didn't belong in the orchard picking fruit.
    Or when the water tower pump was left on and it overflowed.
    BUT I CALLED.

    Principles, morals, doing the right thing.

    Not calling me when my hives swarmed. Not informing me about him keeping bees. Claiming they were not from my hives. Saying he decided to keep the bees for himself. I also know the law of the land. Yeah thats right, he could claim them. I'm talking about whats right. He was hiding them for a reason. He did not call me for a reason. He knew better.

    Very little gray area for me. Character, morals, principles, doing the right thing. Thats black and white. I didn't think that it was needed to put that in a contract.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
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    1,015

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    My BIG WORRY is the old equipment that he put them in. I think you said he lost his hives years back. WHY? These bees could possibly spread diseases to my hives that had killed his original hives out. AFB spores last almost a lifetime and MY HIVES do not have it. I know or find out why my hives die out. Bees are my business.

    Clint

    ------------------
    Clinton Bemrose
    just South of Lansing Michigan

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    mn, wi, tx
    Posts
    174

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    Are you really sure there doesn't exist another feral hive within several 100 yards of where these were captured?

    I have always understood that as soon as the swarm has left the hive, it belongs to anyone who manages to catch it. While it might have been nice for him to call you, he probably thought it sure was nice to catch that "wild swarm" for himself.

    When a person is stung by a bee I don't want them to say it was "your bee that stung me" when it could have been from a hive that is not mine. Likewise, a swarm captured might or might not have come from your hive.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
    Posts
    2,324

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    My opinion on this is why worry about it?You are going to lose a swarm now and then anyway,and there are other real problems to worry about.I wouldnt want people to get the idea that they can help themselves to swarms hanging in the beeyard that obviously came from my hives,though.If I found out about it ,I would say enjoy the bees,but point out that I do come around systematically to harvest them.I would make them feel a little bit guilty ,but not too much.So they probably wouldnt do it again,but we could still do business.

  11. #11
    jfisscher@supercollider.c Guest

    Post


    I don't see what the fuss is about.

    The swarm would have been long gone
    if not "captured" by the landowner.
    His gain is >>NOT<< your loss, as
    you would never had known of the
    swarm until too late.

    Yes, in a rare case, a landowner might
    notice a swarm, and call you, and you
    MIGHT be able to get there in time to
    make an attempt to hive it, but I see
    too many "mights" and "ifs" for this
    to be a common scenario even with the
    most cooperative landowner.

    If your fear is merely his old woodenware,
    GIVE HIM SOME NEW WOODENWARE. Go buy
    some for him if you have to.

    If he wants to keep some bees of his
    own, GREAT! You now have a landowner
    who both cares about bees and will
    learn about bees. You can certainly
    explain to him about synchronizing
    treatment times and such.

    Think of the advantages! A cover blows
    off, and he can call you to tell you
    that he REPLACED IT, and that the bees
    looked OK. One hive of 20 looks weak, and
    can call you to tell you what he noticed.

    For the price of some woodenware and
    foundation, you can earn this fellow's
    undying respect and love. Heck, if that
    trick worked all the time, I'd GIVE one
    hive out of each outyard apiary to the landowner, and say "Yes, this one is
    YOURS. You get the honey. But you have
    to learn how to manage it, and you must
    work to keep it alive and healthy.

    Before long, the fellow is showing up
    at beekeeping meetings, and following
    you around watching you work your hives.

    He's suddenly a beekeeper.
    And suddenly he's your friend.

    jim


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
    Posts
    2,324

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    I have given a couple of landowners a hive in the past when they showed a great deal of interest in bees.Unfortunately in both cases they let the hives die.Its unfortunate,but most people just wont put the effort into learning how to help bees survive .They think,Grandad had bees and he didnt do any of that newgangled stuff and we always had honey.I couldnt care less about one freaking swarm,and if I am doing my job,there wont be very many available for anyone to catch.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Wow its amazing the different responses. Its good to throw these stories out there and get a reading for the level of expertise, compassion, and even potential competition.
    I guess for a true hobbiest, giving away a hive to a farmer is no big deal. I have offered time and bees to a few who had shown interest also. I would not offer the same to a business interest or another commercial beekeeper. Understanding what I'm saying and what interest I'm protecting probably could not be understood by some. I'm not giving a hive to a commercial farmer who pays for pollination in the hopes of making friends. If thats what it takes to make a friend, I'll load the gun in the morning.

    I do catch the majority of swarms when all the other farmers contact me. They know its my business, they are considerate, and look out for me. And I look out for them. And even when I do everthing correct, when dealing with more than one or two hives in the back yard, hives can and do swarm in a very little amount of time.

    I do care about every swarm. For the excitment and the potential $ loss. Of course I have a thriving/growing business. I could not understand how any beekeeper would not care about losing a swarm. My heart pounds, and although not heartbroken, I am somewhat upset when a swarm gets away. And I would not want it any other way. I love catching swarms. If it were any other way, I'd probably hang it up.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Montezuma, GA USA
    Posts
    69

    Post

    BjornBee,

    I understand your point of view. I would be less upset about the swarm and more upset with the intent to decieve. If one of the farmers I was providing pollination for behaved in a similar manner I would be cautious in doing business with them in the future. THe suggestion of a contract would be a good step as mentioned. I personally try to keep swarm catching in perspective, I catch those I can and regret the ones I can't but hat is the extent. I would not let a late season swarm keep me from collecting my pollination fees. A swarm is worth ~$45 dollars, I get a minimum of $40 per hive. So one swarm is worth 1 hive contract. Best of luck.

    Mark

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    brown county,indiana,usa
    Posts
    571

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    i'm probably out of touch with the modern world,i still like the idea of relating to people as individuals.i'm not one for formal contracts and such,and i'm not saying that's the best way to be in these times.if i can't feel at ease dealing with a person,i don't deal with them.for every time someone takes advantage of my trust, there are plenty of others who appreciate it.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
    Posts
    2,324

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    Well Bjorn,I personally wouldnt go into your beeyard and steal a swarm,but there is no accounting for some people.But heres one you will like:Last spring I went to a yard 150 miles away.During the winter,the farm changed ownership.The old owner said it was OK with the new owners to leave the bees there.Well when I got there ,the new owners had taken out the acsess gate ,fenced in the bees,and turned some bulls loose in with them.20 hives were kicked over and rained on and the new owners were nowhere to be found.So thats what I get for assuming evrything was ok and not immediately going to check out the new owners.But that really ticked me off that they fenced me out.Some bolt cutters got the bees out,never to return.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Arnold, Peoples Republik of Maryland
    Posts
    31

    Post

    loggermike,

    I gotta ask. Were the bulls there when you rescued your bees?

    Bill

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
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    Sure,but when they saw how angry I was ,they kept to the far side of the pasture!Actually,bulls are for the most part pretty gentle.I have bees in lots of cow pastures,and there is never a problem if they have a lot of room.If they are restricted to a small area ,then look out.And we did fix the fence before we left(if those bulls had got out,that would have put me in the wrong.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Lenexa, Kansas
    Posts
    445

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    I STILL think it sounds like 2 honest men with a misunderstanding.

    Half the reason of HAVING a contract is so that people do not forget what they agreed to 4 years or so back. People forget.

    As for the farmer, legally he is probably in the right, and when he saw how mad you were he tried to make amends by giving you the swarm. The 2 of you may have different ideas of what is fair as opposed to what is legal, but it sounds like the guy was trying.

    Please understand me, I am not saying that you shouldn't move your bees if you do not feel that is best. Only you can decide on what is a disease risk, only you are responsible for their welfare, and only you can decide who you care to do business with. No doubt there are MANY farmers who would like to have you winter those bees for the proper price. I just think that this farmer is not as despicable a fellow as you feel he is. It really DOES sound like a misunderstanding to me.

    [This message has been edited by Terri (edited September 29, 2003).]

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
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    2,324

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    My only point was that is pointless to worry ahout the little things.If you have 5 hives losing a swarm is a bad thing,if you have 500 you cant afford to give it much thought.And I dont think it has anything to do with artistry,its just the difference between hobby beekeeping and business,thats all.

    [This message has been edited by loggermike (edited September 29, 2003).]

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