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Swarm Ownership law.

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Joseph 

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I had one of my colonies swarm yesterday. It settled on a tree on the street. My dad went out and notified a few of the neighbours close by that it was ours and that we would collect in a few hours time once we got our kit together and when the road was less busy.

Instead someone called the council and this guy Eric, turned up to collect. He was told that they are mine and that I would be there soon, but the temptation overwhelmed him and he set about taking them. I arrived on scene later.

I think the law states that If one of your colonies swarms, that swarm is yours so long as you can pursue it, which may father did do even if he did not set about doing the actual collection at that point. I wasn't going to kick up a huge fuss, and I told him that he was dealing with a virgin queen heading a prime swarm so that he can deal with it accordingly, but I do wonder if he had the right to do that.
 

admin 

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My take on it is that a beekeeper only owns a colony while they are in his hive,as soon as they swarm they are not being kept by a beekeeper so are ownerless.

Big difference between law and manners though.
 

m100 

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I've not seen the legislation and so have no idea if the following is really true, but, similar to what you said, there is apparently something on the statute book that says if you keep a swarm in sight then they remain your property and that you are also permitted to enter a property to recover them.

Some of my swarms I've been glad to see the back of!
 

Joseph 

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I read:

"§ 68. Among wild animals (ferae naturae) a distinction is to be drawn. In those of them that are half tamed (mansuefactae), among which are mentioned deer, peacocks, pigeons, bees, property is not limited by strict detention, as in other wild animals, but by animus revertendi. A migrating swarm (examen) of bees, accordingly, would only continue to belong to the owner of the hive as long as it continues in his sight and is easy to recapture, as it has no intention of returning. In tame animals, e. g. dogs or geese, the rights of the owner are not extinguished by their straying without an intention to return. Inst. 2, 1, 12-16." from the Roman Law..

I shall have to instruct a lawyer !! :)
 

admin 

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Thats very interesting Joseph,that puts a whole new slant on it because the swarm was followed and claimed by its owner before another beekeeper attempted to remove it.
 

beebreeder 

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Only thing is if they were near a public right of way and the guy came via the coucil, Health and Safety etc B******t its a difficult call
 

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But would it come under the highways agency,if it did then the council should of contacted them rather than the beekeeper :lurk5:
 

Joseph 

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Well, they were nice and snug 10' up a tree. I don't think anyone can argue that they were a danger once they were up there. He just said "sorry, finders keepers, I was here first"
 

dudley 

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Very interesting and a bit of a grey area I thinks!
It comes down to the definition of property I suppose, and who owns it. Section 4 of the 1968 theft act defines property relating to untamed wild creatures, flowers, mushrooms etc. And bees kept in a hive, tended, looked after would most certainly be deemed as you’re property, and any bees emerging from that hive, ie a swarm would remain you’re property wherever it went if you could prove as Joseph pointed out that you had not lost sight and they came from you’re hive.

So anyone taking them would be committing an act of theft if one could prove that they knew the bees belonged to you and still they took them and thus deprive you of them with no intention of returning them.
5 points of the theft act that all have to be satisfied are,
Dishonestly: Appropriate: Property: Beloning to another: With the intention of permanently depriving the other of it
So first you have to prove that the taker was being dishonest, (theft act states, not dishonest if he had reasonable belief that he had a legal right to them, or you would consent to his taking them, or that you could not be traced) (or possibly in this case, that they may be lost to everyone if left).
And then you have to prove bees were you’re property and not another swarm,
All difficult to prove in the eyes of the law with regard to a swarm no doubt.
 
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MuswellMetro 

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But would it come under the highways agency,if it did then the council should of contacted them rather than the beekeeper :lurk5:
No, the majority of roads are owned and maintaned by either a unitary council or County council. The highways agency only has authority on major A Roads and motorways like A1. A20 M1 and not B roads or local unclasssified roads

So HSE council B****** may have authority to remove on public safety grounds

Ask for them back
 

FROGDOGDIVER 

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Hope this helps its a quote from current UK and Northern Irish law:

A person cannot steal a wild creature not tamed nor ordinarily kept in captivity, unless either it has been reduced into possession by or on behalf of another person and possession of it has not since been lost or abandoned, or another person is in course of reducing it into possession.

This would cover when out shotgun shooting. If say you shot a duck in the act of shooting and killing that duck you have reduced it in to your possession. It then becomes your property.

In relation to a swarm I would suggest that as we cannot show where a swarm came from. It could be wild or it could be from a local beekeeper who will no doubt have long since lost or abandoned it as there is no way to prove where it came from. If you came across the swarm or were told where it was and decided to reduce it in to your possession by capturing it then it would be lawfully yours. The problem could come from whoever called you if they had claimed to have been in the act of reducing it in to their possession it is lawfully theirs and could rightly charge for the swarm.

No doubt good people skills and some common sense before anyone commences work would help. What would most members of the public want with the bees after they have gone to the trouble of calling you out to help them, failing that a bribe of a bribe of a jar of honey might help.

Hope this makes sense.
I posted this on the forum last year. It might help you.
 

Midland Beek 

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I do wonder if he had the right to do that.
Absolutely.

There are no laws or regulations laid down in respect of ownership of swarms.

Swarms are classed as a natural phenomenon. Whoever goes about collecting them first takes ownership of them at that point.
 

Foxylad 

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This would cover when out shotgun shooting. If say you shot a duck in the act of shooting and killing that duck you have reduced it in to your possession. It then becomes your property.]
This law only apply s to the land you are stood on when you shoot the duck. If you are on land with out the owners permission, you would be poaching.
As a wild animal the bees do not belong to anyone, even if they are in your hive say. I could be argued that if they are on your land in your hive that removing them would incur a criminal act.

Some common curtesy would come in and a bait hive it Erics apiary would i think be just.
 

dudley 

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As a wild animal the bees do not belong to anyone, even if they are in your hive say. I could be argued that if they are on your land in your hive that removing them would incur a criminal act.


The above is so incorrect.

Wild animals can become you're property if you reduce them into you're possession. That means even a fox can even be owned by you if you feed it and it depends on you. Bees kept housed in you're hive would MOST DEFINATELY belong to you. If anyone came onto my land and removed my bees from my hives I will arrest them myself.
 

dudley 

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THEFT ACT DEFINITION of PROPERTY states that untamed wild creatures NOT ORDINARILY kept in captivity will not be you’re property but you can reduce them into you’re property.
So a wild colony of bees living in the fabric of you’re house would definitely NOT be you’re property.
However, if you have physically placed bees in a hive, fed them, medicated them, organised them, and managed them, in any law court in the UK you could easily prove that you have reduced them into you’re possession.
Just because they come and go as they please up to 3 miles does not matter. Point in case, my cat comes and goes as it pleases.
 

FROGDOGDIVER 

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This would cover when out shotgun shooting. If say you shot a duck in the act of shooting and killing that duck you have reduced it in to your possession. It then becomes your property.]/QUOTE]

This law only apply s to the land you are stood on when you shoot the duck. If you are on land with out the owners permission, you would be poaching.
As a wild animal the bees do not belong to anyone, even if they are in your hive say. I could be argued that if they are on your land in your hive that removing them would incur a criminal act.
Im sorry foxylad but I disagree with this. Forget the duck as this is about bees! I used that example last year to try and show a practical example of what is meant in law of reducing into your possession. Clearly poaching is against the law and is not mentioned in my example. Also if someone comes on to my property and removes my bees from the hive not only is it trespass it is theft. I paid for my bees and by tending them I have also reduced them into my possession had they been wild (feral) and not bought. The same goes for if they took my dog which is tamed and bought when compared to a wild dog which had it come to rely on me for food and shelter could be argued that I had reduced in to my possession. In short if you come for my bees it wont be the ducks that get reduced...ha ha

As a wild animal the bees do not belong to anyone, even if they are in your hive say. I could be argued that if they are on your land in your hive that removing them would incur a criminal act.


The above is so incorrect.

Wild animals can become you're property if you reduce them into you're possession. That means even a fox can even be owned by you if you feed it and it depends on you. Bees kept housed in you're hive would MOST DEFINATELY belong to you. If anyone came onto my land and removed my bees from my hives I will arrest them myself.
Dudley you are spot on with the above. Well in my opinion anyway which may not count for much.
 

FROGDOGDIVER 

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In relation to a swarm I would suggest that as we cannot show where a swarm came from. It could be wild or it could be from a local beekeeper who will no doubt have long since lost or abandoned it as there is no way to prove where it came from. If you came across the swarm or were told where it was and decided to reduce it in to your possession by capturing it then it would be lawfully yours. The problem could come from whoever called you if they had claimed to have been in the act of reducing it in to their possession it is lawfully theirs and could rightly charge for the swarm.
To get back to the main thread here. In relation to the above you know it is your swarm as you followed it. The interesting bit is whether you consider yourself by your actions to have been in the act of reducing the swarm in to your possession or not. The other beekeeper thinks not it seems but makes for an interesting debate. If it was my swarm and a family member was off to gather equipment for me as I waited by the swarm then I would see it as still my property which I would want to recover and as you are standing by them you have not yet lost or abandoned. Why else would you have been standing there. As long as the other beekeeper was not in the process of starting to collect the swarm or reduce them into his possession then as you were there first then I think the law speaks clearly. How you go about rectifying the matter is different though. I would seek a solicitors help if you feel strongly about it.
 
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baggieboing 

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It is also worth pointing out that the bloke who took them despite your protests is a class A pratt, who, if they had been my Bees he was taking, would have gone home a little sore and rather sheepish !!!!
 

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