Many times the swarm you are trying to catch is just out of reach. I have copied a friend’s design of a swarm catcher that makes it possible to avoid using a ladder or chain saw and still get those swarms that are up to 20 feet up in the air. As shown in the pictures the catcher combines a 24 foot telescoping pole and light plastic bucket. The plastic bucket came from the garden shop at Menard’s although any light bucket will do. The telescoping pole was found on the internet. My particular pole was made by Garelick and is composed of four (4) six foot sections. I also bought the roof rake attachment so that there was something solid to attach the bucket to. Other makes of telescoping poles are probably just as good.
You are probably saying a six foot person and a 24 foot pole would give a 30 foot reach! But remember when you catch a swarm in the bucket you will have 5 pounds of bees cantilevered way out there. Getting the bees down to the ground in a controlled, but rapid fashion and into the hive can be challenging to say the least. Having another beekeeper lending a hand is helpful.
Use of the catcher is rather simple. Slowly extend the pole up towards the swarm and lock each section as you go. Stop a foot short of the swarm. When you are ready simply jam the bucket into the bottom of the swarm. This abrupt action will break their hold on the tree branch and a large portion of the bees will end up in the bucket. Then in a controlled fashion you need to get the bucket down and shake the bees into the hive. In theory you can lower the bucket by unlocking each pole section and let the pole collapse into its original 6 foot length.
If you are lucky and the queen is in the bucket and you get her into the hive, all the bees in the swarm will eventually follow. Sometimes it takes several attempts to catch her. Good luck and happy swarm hunting.
I will have this catcher at the ECWBA field day at the end of May if you are interested in making one.