While delving in the County Record Office (now History Center) for something completely different, I came across these references to entries taken from the Court Rolls of the Manor of Fordington.

1349 Saturday after Martinmas (11th Nov) 23 Edward III Joan Coukes amerced sixpence for appropriating a stray swarm of bees.

1377 Saturday before St John Baptist (24th June) John Gorney pays the Lord of the Manor twelve pennies for a swarm of bees found in an oak.

1385 John Crested to answer for retaining two stray swarms of bees. Twelve other swarms have been taken by tenants and not paid for.

To give you an idea what else you could do with 6 or 12 pennies in those times here’s an entry from 1365:

Monday after Martinmas. 116 oaks have been blown down by the wind in the Lord’s Wood of Hermitage. These are sold sixty at eight pence, forty at seven pence and seven at six pence each.

So a swarm was worth one or two oak trees!  I don’t know why they were dealing with swarms in November, 1349.Maybe things just took a long time to get to Court.



About chrissladesbeeblog

I have been keeping bees since 1978 and currently have about a dozen hives. I am a member of the BBKA where for many years I represented Dorset at the Annual Delegates' Meeting. I am the co-author (with Dave MacFawn of of S. Carolina) of "Getting the Best from Your Bees" and am working on a book of my own poems : "Bee People".
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One Response to THE VALUE OF A SWARM

  1. Margaret Johnson says:

    No change there then except it takes even longer now. I was informed that a swarm belongs to the person who hives it, does anyone know if that is wrong or when the law was changed. Granted it’s a long time since the 14th Century and a lot has changed especially in the rights of the Lord of the Manor. Like also being entitled to flog peasents and women being counted as chattles along with her belongings.

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