An Experience of Anaphylaxis

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I am a firm believer (from hard and expensive experience) as no doubt you have read, that bees in gardens are in general a bad idea

I think we had already figured that out, but have so far not heard (from any source) why,,,

apart from,,,, might do this and might do that..

I'm sure that with the present namby pamby nanny state we are turning into, that if there was a serious danger then we wouldnt be able to continue to do so.
(edited)I apologise to mikea if I have mis-understood his post

No need to say sorry as far as I am concerned, everyone has the right to their opinion and truth be told thankfully we don't always agree or excellent forums like this won't exist for open debate.

Cheers everyone :cheers2:
Ivor Kemp,

when with expert management it is

is not acceptable and bad management.

Correct on both counts.

As Mike said in his post the concern is those that do not have the benefit of expert management and the second is quite right too. Trouble is it is that particular small minority, who do not have much of a clue what beekeeping really entails, who have the 'ticking time bomb' or the 'box of fireworks'

The expert management would have removed the bees at the first signs of aggression, btw. No argument, just moved to a secluded site.

We are reading of one colony (that killed the chucks) which is still in-situ one month later. I sincerely hope there are no neighbours in close proximity to that one, or even family members, for that matter.

Blimey o riley what a palava!!!.

I have to agree totally with PH and Rab and others about the ticking time bomb analogy.

The original post in this thread was a warning to ALL beekeepers not to become complacent with our bees no matter what our experience.

As regards to the latest posts comparing dangerous dogs, well managed bees, bad management of bees etc. Well the downside of bad colonies is that unlike aggressive dogs they can and do FLY!!!...and a great distance too.

When I began beekeeping most of the newcomers if not all were supplied nucs/colonies by established beeks. They were bees of known temprement and most of the time the supplier of the bees tended to guide the new beek throughout the coming year.

These days there are countless nucs being supplied with unknown qualities and certainly not enough experienced beeks to mentor all newcomers to the craft.

When these nice gentle nucs expand into burgeoning large intimidating colonies (even gentle colonies are intimidating to a lot of new beekeepers!)
then inspections are rushed, and queen cells are easily missed. The resulting queens and subsequent queens are now where problems are starting to arise.

Case in point being the colony in the original post.

Both I and other beeks have tried to assist this new beekeeper as much as we can with both practical help and advice(refused), but she still has left the colony to swarm THREE times this year. The colony ended up so bad tempered that it was beyond her control and had to be moved to another members out apiary (it was quickly requeened and is now back to being a gentle productive colony)

With some practical experience under her belt, and more attention paid to advice given to her, these bees would not have got to that stage.

Also as they degraded in temper, numerous neighbours and their pets WERE stung.

The thing I find about SOME newcomer beekeepers is that they have a very fixed idea about what they want to put into and get out of beekeeping and are quite amazed when they begin to realise how much work keeping bees can involve. The bad thing about this outlook is....if you neglect your garden or house or whatever other hobby you may have, it wont get bad tempered and become a nusiance to you and everyone around you.

The other thing to think about is this....if you are on this forum, that in itself proves that you are willing to look for and obtain more information and views that may enable you to become a better beekeeper. The newcomers I'm referring to generally DONT! (a lot of them cant be advised or told about anything!)

If you cant see a problem with keeping bees in a small urban garden, then you obviously have never been on the recieving end of a bad tempered colony for whatever reason that they may have turned nasty. When it happens it is humbling, and even for a seasoned beekeeper quite SCARY!!!

I always believe that common sense prevails, but after the last two years I'm now having my doubts

keep safe everyone


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I'm lucky - my garden is probably classed as medium/large semi-rural...and if I couldn't have bees in the garden...I couldn't have bees, and they have saved my sanity and I am an unmentored newbee who cannot attend courses due to health issues. I joined the 'assoc' and wasted my £40.

The bees did go Q- this summer (not due to me, as far as I know) and being a newbee didn't realise in time. The people stung? Me and my husband. Neighbours are always told - 'we are opening up now' and pop inside for a few minutes and nothing as yet has happened.

Unfortunately, despite best efforts local mentors are not available or willing to help newbees. I have relied on books and the forum and most recently a great forum member has allowed me to visit his apiary - if only swiftly due to my health - but that doesn't mean I am ignorant of the risks, unwilling to learn or plain stupid. Some newbees may be but as mentioned earlier if we are here that says something but please don't coat us all with the same brush.
but that doesn't mean I am ignorant of the risks, unwilling to learn or plain stupid. Some newbees may be but as mentioned earlier if we are here that says something but please don't coat us all with the same brush.

I don't think any insult to newbees was intended here. We were all newbees once and many of us got a lot of support from people on here when we were and still do.

I had very bad experiences with my neighbours when I had bees in my garden. It was made worse because people kept telling me my bees weren't aggressive, it was probably my handling, so as a beginner I failed to take action (requeen or move the bees) quickly enough.

On balance I would now say that suburban gardens are not an ideal site and they only way you should risk it is if you have an alternative site that you can move the bees to at short notice. Being a beginner in a suburban garden without a mentor to look at the bees made the risks for me, family and neighbours much worse.

I am glad you are loving your beekeeping Queens... shame you are not nearer to me, I would have thought you would be a pleasure to mentor.

First let me reiterate what I said in the earlier post. I was not implying ALL new beekeepers were stupid or dangerous, far from it. In my experience there is a small minority who are a menace to themselves and ALL around them, the worst offenders seem to be the intelligent ones who think they know it all before they even start!!!! they also have a gift for winding neighbours up by saying such things as.... "prove it was my bees can't can you?"...not exactly candidates for the diplomatic corps!

I've grown fed up with treading on eggshells around these characters and now say it like it is. If someone kept a tiger or some other DWA in their garden next to you and proceeded to poke it with sticks and mistreat it, you'd get concerned at the very least. Just because bees are native to these shores and we dont need a licence to keep them (YET!) doesnt mean we can handle them with impunity in built up residential areas.

While I too keep bees in my garden, the majority are at out apiaries and my neighbours come first. They have put their hard earned cash into their properties, so if I had to ask them to remain indoors while I inpect my bees then as far as I am concerned, I'm imposing on their private space and lives no matter how brief and personally I think thats out of order on my behalf.

I know a few older beekeepers now are refusing to mentor some newcomers because the newcomers are trying to tell the older beekeepers how they should be keeping bees (some even before they've had bees of their own!!!!) and not listening to a thing the mentors are saying.
As beekeeping becomes more popular I think we'll see more and more conficts between neighbours especially after hearing the words of the omlet crew selling beehauses at stoneleigh this year.

Lets keep it in perspective and lets not take offence at every comment, what I said was aimed at a small minority, the likes of which dont even read forums like this one.

The older more experienced beeks here will know exactly what I mean as they will have seen the same. Yes we have all been new beekeepers once, but unlike some today we have had time to build up a healthy respect for both the bees themselves and the experienced beekeepers who taught us a good thing or two.
so if I had to ask them to remain indoors while I inpect my bees then as far as I am concerned, I'm imposing on their private space and lives no matter how brief and personally

I don't normally easily take offence, but lately as a newbee do feel a little bit of a floodlit target generally. I don't ASK by neighbours to go indoors - they choose to - they have also chosen to continue a family BBQ...

Also, as a permanently worried newbee - how do I know if I fit certain catagories or not??

I would GIVE ANYTHING for a local mentor - stand by for the rush?? I think not...I'm sure I am making all sorts of mistakes - but without someone to stand there and say so - how will I ever know? Thank goodness for the forum members who help lock, stock and barrel...

And Polyanwood - I wish you were closer too!
Long post warning.... Earlier in the year, I thought that it would be a good thing to keep a hive in a sizeable garden, which is surrounded by neighbours on two sides and has a car park area to the rear. The area was specially constructed, with high screening, and a generally protected area. I successfully kept a growing nuc and later a full-sized colony. As my beekeeping experience developed and I gained first-hand experience of gentle and aggressive bees in various situations (visiting Association members' and working my own out-apiary colonies) the prospect of bees-gone-bad started to play on my mind.

As a beekeeper I have a duty of care to anybody who may be affected by my acts or omissions. I believe that it would be very irresponsible of me to expose neighbours, passers-by, children, etc. to any uncontrolled risk. I think that this is the crux of the matter; the ability to ‘control’ that risk. If I were to make an analogy to risk management in industry (for example) I would be required in this situation to have made a “suitable and sufficient” risk assessment and have done “all that is reasonably practicable” to minimise the risk of harm. Before anybody jumps in saying that we are not operating in an industrial environment, I would venture that the analogy is relevant, as similar principles of health and safety management are useful in consideration of the potential for life-threatening risk. I cannot expect anybody who may be affected by my bees to have reasonable foresight of the risk that my hobby brings with it.

If I then consider Roy's frightening experience (thank goodness you have come through this Roy) the rest is easy. The definition of ‘reasonably practicable’ suggests that the risk of a fatality (however slight) should be afforded all due consideration and means of control. Could I sleep at night with the worry that a child might suffer similar trauma (or worse) that Roy has experienced? No.

Again, with the analogy of H&S in industry, means of risk reduction may involve: elimination, reduction, isolation, control, and the provision of protective equipment.

I attempted to reduce the risk, to isolate the colony, to control (through my best efforts at bee management) and of course, I protected myself very soundly with all manner of suits, boots and other bits and pieces! However, the residual risk to any passing child (or others) still remained. Bees will fly, bees will sting.

All things considered, I moved the colony when they showed signs of swarming (I appreciate that swarming bees may be quite docile but didn't want the adverse PR)! I should add that the neighbours were aware and supportive of my endeavours from the start and that the bees were sufficiently isolated from ‘line-of-flight contact with passers-by.

I am not taking the view that all garden beekeepers are irresponsible. Far from it, my own garden beekeeping experience was highly rewarding. I might once again manage a colony in my garden (I am thinking small-scale, nurturing nuc's and such-like). Not yet. I believe that I now have a fairly good idea of the temperament of my out-apiary bees and I feel fairly confident that I can pick up on the danger signs of things turning nasty (notice that I don't use the phrase 'going wrong' as I know that bees can become aggressive as a normal part of their lifecycle and this is an important consideration). I will make sure that, to the best of my ability, I am equipped to be able to identify signs of increasing risk and have a contingency plan in place to ‘eliminate’ that risk by a rapid placement to the out-apiary if the situation dictates.

There are so many variables and I have illustrated my own experiences only.

As an aside, the out-apiary is made possible by the generosity of a local landowner. Though the land is ‘private’ does my ‘duty of care’ extend to people who occasionally use the field as a ‘short-cut’? I think that I know what the answer is.

There has been talk of gloves too. Personally, I wear white, thin, nitrile gloves for the majority of my work with four colonies. However, my leather gauntlets are readily available in the bee-box, should the critters become a little feisty. Easily sorted.

You might have guessed that health and safety management is part of my ‘day job’. H&S gets a pretty bad press these days, mostly due to many misconceptions, paranoia, and factually incorrect information. I take a very pragmatic view and firmly believe in addressing the real risks without too much fuss. Beekeeping brings very real risks that ought to be managed carefully. And yes, it may be a particularly bitter pill to swallow and we might all rue the day when we are subject to enforced and over-zealous regulation because of our own inadequate control of our charges. Don’t shoot the messenger!
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I think you are over-reacting to Roy's advice which isn't, as far as I can see, aimed at you in the slightest. Roy seems to be telling his story in a very straightforward manner - facts not accusations - apart from maybe the beekeeper who refused to take advice, even after lots of stinging and neighbour problems.

I don't believe Roy was criticising all beekeepers who keep bees in a garden - just warning that it takes more care and attention than a field and pointing out what can go wrong if enough care isn't taken. That's fair enough isn't it?

You're always welcome at my beginners' apiary, where the bees have more to fear than the beekeepers :) If I ever make it down your way, I'd love to drop in and compare bees with the ones I got from GWW and PH. Clearly I'd bring cake.

I'm glad I read this, I'm back to beekeeping after a long break and pride myself on being able to handle bees with little or no protection. It kind of sets you apart, makes you look like a professional.
I'll often take the roof off and a quick feed or look for a queen, check the stores, with just a viel (or not even).

However I do remember a time when I checked a hive in similar circumstances and dropped the frame, causing chaos. Also forgot that the seam of my jeans was splitting at the crotch......

safety first methinks.
Thanks, Roy, for starting this thread. It serves as a timely (in my case) reminder that bee-keeping is a serious business that can, in some circumstances, have serious consequences.

Under normal circumstances you would, I assume, have been wearing your wellies. Dropping a couple of hundred angry bees onto your feet would not have been a significant problem, and wouldn't have turned into a life-threatening near-disaster.

It's a salutary lesson for everyone. The thread should be compulsory reading for all aspiring and newbie bee-keepers. If an experienced bee-keeper can get into such a serious situation, it could happen to a newbie so much more easily.

I shall be ensuring I wear proper PPE whenever I handle bees, and the thought of putting anything other than a bumble-bee house in my rural (long but not very wide, and with neighbours) garden has completely gone out of my head. If my local association doesn't know of a site I shall put a notice in the village shop. to see if anyone can help out.

it is a serious leson for the new beeks to go to the courses get used to the bees and handling them everyone thinks they can handle the bees but opening up that hive for the first time time is so daunting and fritghening with all those bees also how many newbies have bought a full colony first instead of a nuc my main concern is with all this publicity and all the newbies people coming in to it and then getting bored and not looking after the bees properly and the inspections every 4/5 days going out to 1/2/3/4/5 weeks and hey presto swarm/feisty bees
Well said Moggs.
Whether we like it or not, adequate risk assessment of apiary sites is our resposibility.
In these days of litigation and countless 'no win no fee' bandits just waiting for the chance to make a few bob, we must be seen to take all reasonable precautions to prevent third party injury.
It is probably only a matter of time before some mindless moron trashes a hive and then tries to sue because they got stung.:rant:

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