Customs And Ownership Of Wild Bees
There are customs in vogue among sportsmen that have been handed
down from generation to generation, that have almost become laws.
Indeed, we have heard it said that custom becomes law.
A hunter may wound a deer, follow it for a distance and find that
another hunter has shot and killed it. The question might arise as
to whom the deer belonged. A bee hunter may find a bee tree and
mark it and some other hunter might find it afterwards and cut it.
The same question might arise as to whom it legally belonged. If
sportsmen were to settle the disputes they would refer back to
custom and say the deer belonged to the one first wounding it,
providing the wound was of such nature that the one first wounding
it would have been pretty sure of getting it, by following on, and
they would also decide that the bee belonged to the one who first
found and marked it.
A custom that may seem to be founded on justice is pretty apt to be
followed by laws that may coincide with the custom. But we must
remember there are statute laws relating to the ownership of wild
animals and bees, and though we all band together as sportsmen, we
cannot abrogate nor set aside these laws already formed.
In my boyhood days, when I would find a bee, I was very slow to
tell any one just where it was for fear they might cut it. Was this
true sportsmanship? I think not. Some other bee hunter might hunt
for that bee a day or more and finding it would have reason to say
that I had deceived him and he could hardly be blamed if he cut it.
I have been used just this very way more than once, and felt like
retaliating by cutting a bee that was found prior by another party.
But am glad to say that I never did. Since I became more mature in
years I have had more confidence in my fellow sportsmen and now
after finding a bee tree the first time I see any one who is likely
to look for the bee, he is told its exact location, thus probably
saving him much valuable time in not looking for a bee that is
As a fitting close to this work it might be well to quote the
statute laws relating to the ownership of wild bees.
"Bees while unreclaimed, are by nature wild animals. Those which
take up their abode in a tree belong to the owner of the soil, if
unreclaimed, but if reclaimed and identified, they belong to the
former owner. If a swarm leave a hive they belong to the owner as
long as they are in sight and are easily taken; otherwise they
become the property of the first occupant. Merely finding a bee on
the land of another and marking the tree does not vest the property
of the bees in the finder. They do not become private property
until they are in a hive."
This is a statute law. But true sportsmen do not think of going to
law for adjustment of these matters, but rather depend on that
fraternal spirit by which all questions relating to ownership are
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