Who owns these bees?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Hillsboro, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default Who owns these bees?

    I have hives out for pollination. One of these yards is for the year, as there are cucumbers, squash, etc., and it is actually in a great wildflower location.

    Now, this is a booming yard - the bees are on their third supers, and they still beard on the fronts, especially this last week when it was a bit warm, even with propped lids and top super entrances. So it always looks like they are "swarming", and I have gotten repeated messages from the owner saying I think they swarmed, but upon inspection the hives never look any smaller, and there are no queen cells.

    So, my wife told me that there was a message on the machine a few days ago from the owner of this land where I have the hives placed, and he said that he just wanted to let me know he "saw a big swarm near your hives". Okay, I thought "well, looks like I lost one...", and made a mental note to check on this yard this past Saturday, as my evenings after my "real job" were not available.

    So I get there early Saturday, and the fella there told me that he couldn't get a hold of me right away (he doesn't have a phone), but when he was cutting hay, he saw a swarm alight on a fence post about 20 feet from my hives. So he went down to the neighbors (a mile away, also doesn't own a phone) who has bees, and the neighbor put the swarm in a hive box, and took them home. He did say to me, "I don't know how you feel about that, but I couldn't get a hold of you...", so I called the neighbor.

    Okay, who rightfully owns these bees?

    In the past, I've boxed swarms near neighbor's hives (they were away), and left my equipment and the swarm there, as I always thought it would be wrong to take them as my own. What would you do? And what should I do now - just forget it, or go to the neighbor who removed the swarm or ?

    Are there laws on the books regarding swarm ownership if it known that the bees originated from your colonies, and are either on your property or on property adjoining your pollination contract yard?

    MM

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Greensburg, Ky.
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    Finders keepers is what they usually say but your last words is worth looking into! (either on your property or on property adjoining your pollination contract yard?) If they was on the contracted land/yard you might have a chance! If they was outside the contracted yard then i highly doubt you have a chance! Have you spoken directly to the person who took the bees?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Hillsboro, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    They were twenty feet from my hives - on the contracted land. If otherwise, I'd say finders-keepers. I'm going to the neighbor who boxed them tomorrow - they are Amish (sabbath today). But, I do feel weird inquiring about them, as I haven't run into this situation before. Should I just chalk it off as a loss, and their timely gain?

    MM

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Greensburg, Ky.
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    If you felt that way you wouldnt of even wrote this post so from what i gather they ment enough to you to write this post then its worth the effort to speak to the person man to man!! Hopefully the amish guy will be fair, if you see any sign that he isnt budging then give him an example: What if you seen his carriage horses loose and took them home, wouldnt he want them back???....hahaha

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    knoxville, tn
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    679

    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    Sounds like your neighbor has a new hive of bees.

    If you could not get to them for a few days most likely they would have been gone anyway.

    You said they were on a fence.............on the property line by chance?

    The property owner is the one who called in someone else, not like the neighbor just helped himself.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    knoxville, tn
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    679

    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by honeybeekeeper View Post
    What if you seen his carriage horses loose and took them home, wouldnt he want them back???....hahaha
    I bet his family, friends, neighbors and himself could ID his horses, can you ID your bees..............with certainty?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Greensburg, Ky.
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    1,144

    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    The thing is We dont mess around in ky! You dont mess around in the holler!

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
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    1,866

    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    It's a ticklish subject. It's kind of weird that since the land owner could not get ahold of you, he felt compelled to call the neighbor. If he didn't call the neighbor, the swarm would be lost to the wilderness and you'd never know any different. Does it really make a difference that the neighbor was able to collect the swarm?

    In that respect, I'd say let the neighbor have the swarm. The neighbor was available and the land owner thought to call you first (this whole "no phone" thing complicates matters). I've lost track of the number of swarms I missed out on because I could not drop everything and go and pick up the swarm (but these bees also did not originate from my hives). Someone benefitted from some free bees and I can't let their gain be my loss. Part of retrieving swarms is the need to be available at a moment's notice. Most of us have "real" jobs.

    At this point of the year, what would you gain by taking them back? What will the neighbor gain by keeping them? You still have the original hive that's likely loaded with queen cells and you'll get a new queen out of the deal. If it swarmed and you have all those supers on, you likely got this year's honey crop. In real terms, what have you lost?

    In another respect, why do you want them back? For increase? Would you set up another hive stand and hive them?

    If this were me, and if this were my situation, I'd let the neighbor keep the bees. I'm at a point in my honey production where I'm making splits anyway. Losing a swarm doesn't really cost me anything. I can make up for it by splitting another hive.

    And yes, it still irks me to lose swarms, but it's part of beekeeping.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    I doubt that tere are any laws about this, i would be surprised anyway.

    My point of view is, they weren't in your boxes, so they aren't yours. The landowner had claim to them, they were on his property. Possesion is nine tenths of the law, so they say. So, again from my pov, he had the right to give them away. You don't really know if they came from your hives or from the hives down the road.

    Now, if those bees had swarmed onto a stack of equipment actually in the bee yard, amongst the hives, then you would have a claim. imo.

    But, at this point, is it really worth pressing the point w/ the neighbor or your landowner? You don't want to loose the yard, do you? Not over a swarm of bees. Not a July swarm.

    have you talked to the landowner and asked him to be more patient next time. explain to him that those bees wouldn't have left any time real soon. And if they had, it wouldn't have been that much of a lose.

    that's my 2 cents.

  11. #10
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    Mar 2010
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    Greensburg, Ky.
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    I agree! I would atleast do something so it wouldnt happen again!!

  12. #11
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    What if they had been so high up that they were unreachable? Whose would they be then?

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Corryton, Tennessee, USA
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    574

    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    My philosophy would be that they belong to the other person, no matter whose shoes I was in. Better to give away a swarm and have a friendly neighbor to your bee yard.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Hillsboro, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    I really don't need the bees, doing splits this time of year anyway, but it kinda irks me that the neighbor just didn't box them up, and leave them that 20 feet from my hives.

    I guess what I'd do and what other beeks will do are different things. I'd have boxed them and left them, as-is. And, when the owner of the land said "I don't know how you feel about that...", I'll bet that he felt that the swarm should have been left there as well - he is a genuinely nice guy, always been fair to me. This yard is up near his outbuildings, smack dab in the middle of 240 acres.

    Yes, I'm sure that if the neighbor didn't catch the swarm , it would now be in the wild. Opportunity is everything. I will go to the neighbor tomorrow, and thank him for helping out my pollination customer.

    Oh, an analogy is that currently I lease out my pasture to my neighbor for his milk cows. Sometimes, they give birth right in the pasture. If he isn't around, is it my calf now?

    MM

  15. #14
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    Of course. But if the cow were on the other side of the fence, it would be your neighbors.

    You know ther answer to that senario. Aps and ojs.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Batesville, Arkansas, USA
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    107

    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    they most certainly aren't yours.

    if you are unavailable when the land owner calls, then whoever hives them gets them.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Greensburg, Ky.
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    Im with ya mapman, i would want atleast an answer to the why????? and if its gonna happen again!!! I would want an answer i dont care if it was smoke being blown! You just have to ask yourself if that 240 acres is worth having as a contract! That sounds like a nice place to have several bee hives! But i would like to beable to keep my population with in reason as well!! Thats just my opinion!...Ok let me have it!!!...

  18. #17
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Palm Bay, FL, USA
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    2,274

    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    You're not out a dang thing! If the neighbor had not caught them where would they be now? They sure wouldn't stay on that fencepost anxiously awaiting your arrival to catch them. Let it be. How many swarms have you and the rest of us caught that once belonged to someone else? "What goes around, comes around."

  19. #18
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Covington, Ga, USA
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    I'd walk down there and say hey, hope you enjoy the bees, shake his hand, and go home. I know that may sound strange, but the more beeks we get, the better we are, so long as he isn't stealing your hive. The property owner thought enough to call someone else, and to me that shows some character as he was concerned for their well being. A friend of mine called me not too long ago and they had a swarm on the golf course in their front yard. I asked them if they wanted them and they said sure, so i got into my truck and headed over with a Nuc to hive them in. Funny thing, when I got there, there was a guy standing in the road eyeballing them. I talked to him and he said he always wanted bees but never could afford them. I talked to my friend and we worked it out. They were a poor family down the road(my friends house is 8500 sq ft.), so i boxed them and gave him a medium box and 5 frames and my number and told him to call me. I then came home and got one of my hives and took it over to my friends house for them. His wife is maintaing them and loving it and we all feel good at the end of the day.....
    "You laugh at me because I am different, but I laugh at you because you are all the same."

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tulare County, CA USA
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    1,391

    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    Well, If I find them hanging off of a branch at a rural location where I can grab them and go, then they are most likely mine. If someone else finds them hanging from their porch right in front of the front door they are most definately feral bees not belonging to me that I would be glad to help them get rid of.
    Take the high road and go thank the guy for his help in keeping them off of the neighbors porch. Give him your info and tell him next time he can get ahold of you and let YOU go through the hassle of hiving them so as to not waist HIS time with YOUR bee problem.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Greensburg, Ky.
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    Default Re: Who owns these bees?

    Good Deal DevDog!!!..

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