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mikemilespitcairn 

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I am involved in setting up an apiary site that has a 10 metre boundary with a large (10-15 acres) horse field. The bees and horses are separated by a substantial stock fence and a 6 foot high wind break screen and six metres of open ground. The owner of the horses is getting a little agitated over the impending arrival of our bees and is fearful that his animals may become targets and attacked without cause.
Has the forum any experience that would help allay his fears (or maybe justify them); is there really any danger to the horses?
Cheers,
Mike
 

Davelin 

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This has been discussed several times on here, do a search. As with all things you will get both sides of the argument.
Mine are adjacent to horses so far with no issues.
 
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tonybloke 

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I am involved in setting up an apiary site that has a 10 metre boundary with a large (10-15 acres) horse field. The bees and horses are separated by a substantial stock fence and a 6 foot high wind break screen and six metres of open ground. The owner of the horses is getting a little agitated over the impending arrival of our bees and is fearful that his animals may become targets and attacked without cause.
Has the forum any experience that would help allay his fears (or maybe justify them); is there really any danger to the horses?
Cheers,
Mike
been discussed on the forum many times, with different views ( as usual)
 

Teemore 

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This is not legal advice.
Other forumers keep bees in close proximity to horses and seem to have encountered no problems as between horses and bees. That said, there is case law which relates to incidents wherein horses were repeatedly stung by bees and where harm to humans ensued. In Irish Case of O'Gorman v O'Gorman (1903) a man died as a direct result of his horse being stung by his neighbour's bees: the beekeeper was held to be liable for his neighbour's death.
A number of beekeeping friends have also related instances wherein they encountered bee/horse problems. Thier comments would suggest that some bees do not like horses the guard bees will effectively sting horses on sight.
Effectively the neighbouring horse-owner has put you on notice of their concern about bees stinging their horses. It is arguable that a reasonable beekeeper would take this concern into account when siting an apiary. Should a problem arise from bees in the apiary stinging horses, the fact you were made aware of such concerns at the outset might well be taken into account should the matter go to law. The owner of the adjoining land has a legal right to enjoy the use of their land and if bees in the apiary were to prevent them from so doing, they might persue an action in negligence or more....
 

louiseww 

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See Horse and Hound magazine on line for a very distressing incident in Sussex last year (can't remember the month so do a search)
 

Monsieur Abeille 

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Mine are about 100 yards from a stable, and a few feet away from the bridleway used, which they face though separated by a 7' hedge. I was worried at first but the bees aren't interested in the horses and I've had no problems whatsoever.

There are always stories about horses, chickens, dogs etc getting troubled or worse by bees, but they seem to be very isolated and normally there is a good associated reason (eg knocking over the hive).

Reassure him that honeybees are only interested in protecting the hive, and don't sting for the sake of it.
 

justme 

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just a thought that has occured many times since learning that bees do not like black. Does it make a difference what colour the horse etc is? I've had a white grey pony in same field for 2 years, no issues. Over the hedge, bays and chestnuts. A friend had 5 horses, greys, bays, chestnuts for 5 years, no issues. Would a black make them more likely to attack the 'herd'?
 

Luminos 

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One of my horses is black. No problems from the bees - and my bees are quite stingy.
 

Nickod 

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Details of Horse & Bee tragedy in East Sussex 2011

..from the secretary of our neighbouring beekeeping association:

I expect by now you may have heard that one of our new members at ##### have had an awful tragedy involving their four horses, which were severely stung. One of the horses managed to jump into the section of the field where several bee hives were kept, and it appears that a hive was knocked over and the horse was stung. The horse panicked, and practically all the hives in the apiary were knocked down, and the horse was severely attacked.

This attracted the other three horses in the field to come over, and these too, were severely stung. As a result, all four horses died of heart failure.

Our sympathy goes out to the members involved, and we would wish to avoid any such thing ever happening again.

This is a very tragic and rare occurrence, and in many places horses are kept near to bees without any problems, but there is an old saying “bees & horses don’t mix”, and it would seem that we need to re-learn a salutary lesson.

Under normal circumstances cattle and sheep are not bothered by bees at all, and it is fine to keep bees in an adjacent field. It is vital , though, that your fences are very well stockproofed.

Many people with chickens keep them close to the bees, and there is no problem there. With horses, it would be sensible to keep a field’s distance between them and the bees, at least 100 yards, and to be aware of bridle paths, etc.

As we know, bees do not like some odours, particularly strong ones, which may contain scents similar to some of their pheromones. An example of this are the citrus type fly sprays, which are reputed to upset the bees. If you handle horses, it is best to wash and change before handling the bees, just to make sure you are not taking any strong odours with you.

This email is going to all of our members and others we believe to have bees, in order to make beekeepers aware of the risks, however rare.
 

Nickod 

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The previous reply would explain why the horse owner is concerned.

I believe that the main concern is a horse jumping a fence and knocking over a hive. Most countryside fences (post and rail - about 4ft high) keep horses contained most of the time, but many horses could jump most fences if motivated - or lean on it until it gave way.

You can build a stronger fence and that should re-assure the horse owner. I kept bees in a corner of a field of horses for two years with no problems, they were separated by blackthorn hedge about 5 foot high with an entrance wide enough for me with two short bars to discourage the horses from entering.
 

vermillion 

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I would just also add that if they select the horse trough as their water supply, it could be a problem and distress the horse owner. If you provide a water source for the bees, hopefully it will alleviate that issue.

Although, as it happens, my bees are completely uninterested in the water I provide for them. They have ignored my horse troughs as well, so I dont know where they are getting their water...stream nearby maybe...

My horses are not near the bees, but I would definitely want them separated by a pipe corral or good horse fence in the event they were housed closer.

Very sad what happened to those horses, and sounds like a freak accident. So sorry to read that though.
 

enrico 

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I used to have hives in a field next to horses. They would come over to see what I was doing, then eat grass with bees in and get stung on the lips .... After about three times they would walk away from anyone dressed all in white......wonder why. We all learnt to live in harmony very quickly. My bees never targeted the horses to my knowledge.
E
 

thorn 

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The owner of the adjoining land has a legal right to enjoy the use of their land and if bees in the apiary were to prevent them from so doing, they might persue an action in negligence or more....
I doubt that an action for negligence merely for keeping bees could succeed, even if they stung a neighbour's horse. The beekeeper would have to perform a negligent act, and if beekeeping in itself were negligent then we're all at risk. There might be a possible nuisance action, but it's doubtful it would succeed. Why should one person's wish to keep horses be considered more important in law than his neighbour's wish to keep bees?

The answer to whether to keep bees near to a field of horses is simple. Whoever is responsible for the boundary fence should ensure that it is stockproof. The beek should make sure there' s a barrier that will cause the bees rise.

And if the horses do get in and knock the hives over, no matter what happens to the horses it'll be the beekeeper who has a claim for compensation for any damage caused to his property under the provisions of the Animals Act.
 

The Cumbrian 

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Why should one person's wish to keep horses be considered more important in law than his neighbour's wish to keep bees?
I must admit comments on this forum seem to me to err on the side of others having the right to enjoy their land/garden at the expense of the beekeeper who wants to enjoy their own land in their own way.
 

thorn 

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I must admit comments on this forum seem to me to err on the side of others having the right to enjoy their land/garden at the expense of the beekeeper who wants to enjoy their own land in their own way.
No, in this case just a simple statement of law. A judge would weigh one person's rights against the other's, and would find that neither had a greater or lesser right in this sort of case.
 

The Cumbrian 

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No, in this case just a simple statement of law. A judge would weigh one person's rights against the other's, and would find that neither had a greater or lesser right in this sort of case.
You don't seem to have taken what I said as I meant it. In general this forum seems to put much more regard on the rights of others to "enjoy" their land than they do on a beekeeper's right to "enjoy" the land. I wasn't commenting on this particular case merely on the general impression I get about what the contributors think.
 

Teemore 

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There is case law to confirm that keeping bees is a lawful and normal use of land. From a discussion with Jim Ryan (FIBKA/retired Solicitor in Ireland) last year he advised me that where people have taken action and tried to establish that beekeeping is an un-natural use of land, those actions have failed both in the UK and Ireland. As I was suggesting and Thorn has developed upon, problems arise when there is negligence on the part of the beekeeper. That can include negligence in the siting of an apiary, the number of stocks in an apiary and management techniques. Simplisticly, you do have a right to use and enjoy your own land as long as that use does not prevent someone else form using/enjoying thier own land.
There was an unreported High Court case in Birmingham - Parker v Reynolds - where it was recommended/ordered that an apiary be moved 200 yards in order to remove the element of nuisance. What a lot of beekeepers need to get their heads around is the simple fact that keeping bees without skill/thought/common sense, call it what you will, could cause a nuisance to neighbours and passers by. It could also be negligent.......
As noted it is generally OK to keep bees on your land but the position changes if keeping those bees is causing a nuisance/harm to other people. Thats when you need to do something to remove the nuisance e.g. fewer stocks in your apiary, move the apiary, requeen with quieter bees. People just need to think about their own particular situations and think about their neighbours too.
 

Black Comb 

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I must admit comments on this forum seem to me to err on the side of others having the right to enjoy their land/garden at the expense of the beekeeper who wants to enjoy their own land in their own way.
I disagree. The comments on here relate to bees going on other peoples land (usually near neighbours) and stopping them enjoying use of their land. My bees have full rights to my garden but if they go over the hedge and start stinging neighbours then I do something about it.
 

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