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Digestive 

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Can anybody clarify what the legal status of beekeeping in the UK is?

Obviously not an issue owning a hive, bees etc, but more from can neighbours complain if they are concerned by it (or don’t like it) and for example who is responsible for if a swarm takes up residence on somebody else’s property?

I ask as we live rurally, have a very large garden but also very very unfriendly neighbour (think bored old man who likes nothing better than to complain about everything, noise, children, etc etc) and wondering how our hive (we are setting up) could cause him to complain and what under what pretence.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Nobody is responsible for a swarm. I can see there being an issue if he watches a swarm leave one if your colonies and fly under his soffits or into his chimney but by and large there is no responsibility.
Posts about neighbours and bees come up fairly frequently and to my mind a little persuasion and bribery with honey goes much further than confrontation and quoting law and rights. You have to live with each other. Would he be less grumpy if you befriended and involved him a little?
 

Erichalfbee 

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Make sure your bees are as far from the boundary as possible and that the entrance is in such a direction that the bees avoid flying over his garden if you can. Don’t inspect when he is in it.
 

Digestive 

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Thanks for the reply...to be honest the neighbour is somebody who seems to want to find fault with everything (he has a reputation in the hamlet we live in) an example being shouting last summer at our 5yr &3yr olds to stop kicking a ball around on our lawn as it was to noisy for him so a jar or two of honey may not do much :(.

The hive has already been ‘spotted’ over the hedge so suspect once our bees arrive, it will be commented upon, hence just want to check on what ground he could look to complain on.
 
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Ian123 

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Keep the hive in full view, but with no bees in for a few months - just to see what he does.
Yes we once had a complaint about empty hives they got a bit embarrassed when they got dismantled in front of them. You are perfectly within your rights to keep a hive in your garden. If there’s an issue they have to prove a nuisance and that’s a long road as jkmb says a jar of honey may go a long way. Ian
 

Hachi 

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Try to site the hive within a meter of a high obstacle 6ft is good, thereby forcing the bees up and "over" him.

I've deleted two, what I think are tongue in cheek humorous replys but the sensitive lovies have me gagged for today.
 

Woodland bees 

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I would also add make sure you have a few decent water sources away from your neighbour. Our bees make a very obvious bee line to our pond to collect water and if I don't remember they often fly into me, I wouldn't want this to happen to a neighbour be they grumpy or otherwise.
 

BugsInABox 

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If he’s yelling at your pre-schools for kicking a ball, just accept he’ll never be reasonable and get on with it.
I think I read somewhere that when considering what amounted to nuisance a judge had suggested more than a sting a week.
 

ericbeaumont 

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when considering what amounted to nuisance a judge had suggested more than a sting a week.
Yes, nuisance has legal definition and requires your bees to disrupt your neighbour's enjoyment of their property for a considerable period; the neighbour would be expected to substantiate a claim, perhaps by a diary and photos of stings.

Swarms are ferae naturae and as they don't intend to return to the hive, belong to no-one.

An empty hive is good plan; let him huff and puff and when the noise has died down put bees in them, perhaps later in the summer. Essential to find a local back-up site now to bail you out in the future.

For example, a queenless colony can zap anyone nearby, and moving it at very short notice is not the time to find another site.
 

Digestive 

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Thanks for all the advice...it is most appreciated.

The photo shows how we have sited the hive....
F4D211B4-522C-445E-9259-FCC0E27015F6.jpeg

The neighbour in question’s boundary is around 15ft+ away (the fence in the background -we have planted beech hedging in front of this).

We have been offered a colony of bees which if we chose to take them will be held us for the next 8weeks if we want them. So we’ll see how he reacts overs the next couple of weeks.
 

Murox 

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What is behind the hedge behind the hive? maybe consider facing the hive towards it so their flight path is high up, rather than gliding in across the lawn ??
 

Digestive 

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Behind the hedge is a farm track to access the fields that surround us (there is also a public footpath up the track) there is also a drainage ditch for the field run off so a good source of water for the bees.

The hive has a good 20-30meters of lawn before the side of our property and around another 30-40m lawn to the left hand side...We like the idea of being able to see the hive entrance while in the garden to watch the bees (if that makes sense).....with it facing out be a cause for concern with that space in front of it?

At what distance from the hive would be considered ‘safe’ and considerate to the bees flight path?
 
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steve1958 

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The hive belongs to you.
The bees belong to no one.
They are wild insects.
If they choose to move into the wooden box on your lawn (all be it aided). That's their decision.
Once there is honey being stored in the hive it becomes a food item and is protected by law.
It's your property do what you like with it.

You may want to put some sort of low fenced around the hive.
Not so much for your neighbours benefit but to keep your footballers away from it.
 

thorn 

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It varies.
If he’s yelling at your pre-schools for kicking a ball, just accept he’ll never be reasonable and get on with it.
I think I read somewhere that when considering what amounted to nuisance a judge had suggested more than a sting a week.
Do you have any idea where you heard that. It sounds more like a throwaway line than a considered judicial thought.

Repeated swarms/casts throughout the summer might give sufficient grounds for a nuisance claim, but it would need there to be more than one or two hives for it to be a continuous problem. The bees from hell could also provide grounds if they were just left to get on with it.

Nuisance claims are very expensive and about as certain as a day at the races. No solicitor would offer to take such a claim on a conditional fee basis, and no-one without the backing of a legal expenses insurer should bring one, though a letter before action might prove effective.

Can I repeat the plea I've made before. If anyone hears of a case involving bees, let me know and I'll try to find out more about it.

As for yelling at the kids for making a noise, I have every sympathy with the OP's neighbour. Since the kids next door got a trampoline I've not been able to eat or entertain in my garden in peace. I was able to persuade the bees to attack the daughter's unsuitable boyfriend a few years ago. I must work on getting them to go for anyone using the trampoline. I'll take the risk of their bringing a nuisance action.
 

drdrday 

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We like the idea of being able to see the hive entrance while in the garden to watch the bees (if that makes sense).....with it facing out be a cause for concern with that space in front of it?
I appreciate wanting to see the entrance, but I'd echo some of the other comments about rotating the hive to face the hedge. It would be a much better choice in my opinion. You need to imagine huge numbers of bees industriously flying quite low down straight across that expanse of flat lawn to and fro from the hive - making it difficult to walk across that patch of lawn (let alone play) without getting in the bees' way.
Simply rotating the hive towards the hedge will prevent this quite neatly. You'll also be able to enjoy both the bees and the garden without having to cross the bees flight path.
 

Arfermo 

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You need at least one other occupied hive too. What then? Ignore the old XXXXXX - he'll get over it.
 

ericbeaumont 

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The bees belong to no one.
They are wild insects.
If they choose to move into the wooden box on your lawn (all be it aided). That's their decision
Not so, Steve.

Hived bees are the property of the beekeeper and are defined as animus revertendi, which means they intend to return. A swarm is defined as ferae naturae because it has no intention to return, is now wild, and can be taken and hived by anyone (depending on whose property the swarm lands). At this point the status of the bees reverts to animus revertendi.

If you want to go the extra mile, read Bees and the Law by Frimston and Smith or Bees at Law by Noel Sweeney. I was warned that the Sweeney was edited poorly; it is certainly written oddly, which means it has stayed on my shelf only partially read.
 
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