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.