Swarm ownership

Welcome to NZ Beekeepers+
Would you like to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.
Sign up
2
2
Wellington
Experience
Hobbyist
Greetings readers, I suspect this topic may have been covered before, but there is some conjecture among swarm collectors and owners as to when you own bees and when you don’t particularly during the swarming period.

My understanding and happy to be corrected, that the general rule is that when the bees occupy your hives, they belong to you. If they swarm and cluster/settle within your property, they are still your bees. If they cluster/settle in a neighbouring property or beyond they are no longer your bees. However, if you notice your bees have swarmed to a neighbouring property and with the permission of the property owner you can retrieve them. But if someone else collects the bees, they become theirs and you have no right to claim ownership.

I believe there is some long-standing unwritten rule around this, which someone may be able to include in a subsequent posting.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dacahill

Mummzie

Staff member
1,258
1,142
Tasman
Experience
Hobbyist
Result of a google search
Otago Daily times 1919


James Batstone, of Fairfield Park, Bath, claimed £9 from Herbert Rumming, a neighbour, the value of a swarm of bees, which the defendant, it was claimed, had seized. Counsel for the plaintiff claimed that the ownership of the bees remained with the original owner as long as he kept them in sight.

The case for the defence was that they were not kept in sight, and so ownership was lost. The judge said it had been clear for hundreds of years, under the law laid down by the Emperor Justinian, that a swarm of bees belonged to a man as long as they were in his sight, and could easily be pursued.

Otherwise they became the property of the first person who saw them. This swarm had not been in the owner’s sight when it went from the hive, or when it was on its way to the hedge, 100 yards away, where it was found.

The law to-day was just as it was hundreds of years ago. If a man did not keep the bees in sight, they became the property of anyone who found them. Judgement would be for the defendant.
 

NickWallingford

BOP Club
238
345
Tauranga
Experience
Retired
James Batstone, of Fairfield Park, Bath, claimed £9 from Herbert Rumming, a neighbour, the value of a swarm of bees, which the defendant, it was claimed, had seized. Counsel for the plaintiff claimed that the ownership of the bees remained with the original owner as long as he kept them in sight.
When I wrote a series of articles for the NZ Bkpr magazine, the editor used a small woodcut called "Tanging the Swarm", with an image of someone following a swarm, and banging on pots and pans as they followed. I initially had heard that the loud banging would cause the swarm to settle to the ground. But it turned out the noise was the means to establish that the owner still had the swarm in sight. So as long as you keep tanging, the swarm could still be yours. I'm not sure I would want to test this out in my neighbourhood.
 


Top