Can a bee be homeless ?

Hertfordshire Mercury, 17th June 1916


At Buntingford Petty Sessions, Stephen Barker of Buntingford, was charged with stealing the top of a beehive, and 3 dummy tops, to the value of 6 shillings, from Mr Poulton, of Wyddial, on Sunday, 31st May.

PC Murphy said that, on the day in question, he had been keeping watch on a stack of beehives in a field on the Wyddial Road near Buntingford.  At 6.30 a.m. he had seen the defendant climb through a hedge and go to the stack of beehives.  After looking around, he had taken one of the hives, pulled off the top, and then, with an additional three dummy tops, he had climbed back through the hedge and walked off along Wyddial Road.  The Constable said that he had stopped him and had asked him what he was doing.  He had replied  “I got them for firewood”.  He begged the Constable to let him take them back.

The Constable took possession of the hive tops and said that the defendant would be reported, but the defendant had said that he would see the owner the next day in order to see whether or not the owner would sell him the tops.  The defendant kept his word and saw the owner the next day.

Mr Poulton, the beehive owner, said that this behaviour had been going on for some weeks.  He had lost six complete beehives which he believed had been sold on.

The prisoner pleaded guilty and asked for leniency.  He thought there was no harm in having a little wood !

The Chairman of the Bench disagreed.  He said that this had clearly been going on for some time and therefore must be stopped.  He fined the defendant 12 shillings, or 14 days’ imprisonment, without hard labour.

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