Sunday, March 29, 2009


"It was a question in the Roman law, whether a wild beast belonged to him who had wounded it so that it might easily be taken. The civilians differed on the question; but Justinian adopted the opinion, that the property in the wounded wild beast did not attach until the beast was actually taken. So, if a swarm of bees had flown from the hive of A, they were reputed his so long as the swarm remained in sight, and might easily be pursued; otherwise they became the property of the first occupant. Merely finding a tree on the land of another, containing a swarm of bees, and marking it, does not vest the property of the bees in the finder. Bees which swarm upon a tree do not become private property until actually hived.*

* . . . Bees 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 possessor. Goff v. Kilts, 15 Wendell 550."

Kent, 6 Commentaries 349--350 (6th Ed.).

Cf., Ghen v. Rich, 8 F. 159 (D. Mass. 1881) (iron-holds-the-whale).

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