Landowner not giving me access to my out-apiary

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Joined
Jan 16, 2017
Messages
832
Reaction score
506
Location
Lincolnshire, UK
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
2
For the last 6 weeks I've been getting no response to my requests for access to my bees. The last time I visited was just before New Year when I was let in to check stores. After I left sent message, "They both look OK. See you in April".

They approached me when I was selling honey at a car boot sale to put bees into a hive that they had been given. I've been managing 2 colonies there for 18 months. They live behind gates and have big dogs and I've needed to arrange someone to open the gate. I've sold them some of the honey for £3/lb and they've had some honey for free.. Both colonies swarmed last year, one requeened, the other I united a queen from home apiary. They both looked OK at New Year.

Over the last 6 weeks I've tried WhatsApp message, regular text messages, voice messages, postcards on the gate and through the letterbox. No reply.

Today I've put a postcard through the letterbox, "I'm no longer going to look after your bees but I would like my boxes back please" with my address and mobile number. I give up now.

My only clue about what has happened is that at New Year there was a new guy there who came to look at me checking the hives. He was a beekeeper. I thought he was a family member visiting. I think I've been replaced and they've kept my bees and one set of boxes.

Don't know what I hope to gain from this but as they say "A problem shared is a problem halved". I'm not going any further. I can make more bees and I've only lost a set of boxes.

. . . . Ben
 
Apart from sitting outside the property waiting for someone to appear and doorstepping them I'm not sure there is much else that you can do ... chalk it up to experience and move on. Without something in writing there is no chance of redress and even then ... the cost of litigation would outweigh the value of the bees and hive.
 
For the last 6 weeks I've been getting no response to my requests for access to my bees. The last time I visited was just before New Year when I was let in to check stores. After I left sent message, "They both look OK. See you in April".

They approached me when I was selling honey at a car boot sale to put bees into a hive that they had been given. I've been managing 2 colonies there for 18 months. They live behind gates and have big dogs and I've needed to arrange someone to open the gate. I've sold them some of the honey for £3/lb and they've had some honey for free.. Both colonies swarmed last year, one requeened, the other I united a queen from home apiary. They both looked OK at New Year.

Over the last 6 weeks I've tried WhatsApp message, regular text messages, voice messages, postcards on the gate and through the letterbox. No reply.

Today I've put a postcard through the letterbox, "I'm no longer going to look after your bees but I would like my boxes back please" with my address and mobile number. I give up now.

My only clue about what has happened is that at New Year there was a new guy there who came to look at me checking the hives. He was a beekeeper. I thought he was a family member visiting. I think I've been replaced and they've kept my bees and one set of boxes.

Don't know what I hope to gain from this but as they say "A problem shared is a problem halved". I'm not going any further. I can make more bees and I've only lost a set of boxes.

. . . . Ben
I must say, I do feel for you. If they intend to permanently deprive you of your property, it sounds like theft.
 
You could try to involve the police but I doubt they would be enthusiastic.
Spray the gates with amyl acetate 😁
Or just lots of lemongrass oil
 
For the last 6 weeks I've been getting no response to my requests for access to my bees. The last time I visited was just before New Year when I was let in to check stores. After I left sent message, "They both look OK. See you in April".

They approached me when I was selling honey at a car boot sale to put bees into a hive that they had been given. I've been managing 2 colonies there for 18 months. They live behind gates and have big dogs and I've needed to arrange someone to open the gate. I've sold them some of the honey for £3/lb and they've had some honey for free.. Both colonies swarmed last year, one requeened, the other I united a queen from home apiary. They both looked OK at New Year.

Over the last 6 weeks I've tried WhatsApp message, regular text messages, voice messages, postcards on the gate and through the letterbox. No reply.

Today I've put a postcard through the letterbox, "I'm no longer going to look after your bees but I would like my boxes back please" with my address and mobile number. I give up now.

My only clue about what has happened is that at New Year there was a new guy there who came to look at me checking the hives. He was a beekeeper. I thought he was a family member visiting. I think I've been replaced and they've kept my bees and one set of boxes.

Don't know what I hope to gain from this but as they say "A problem shared is a problem halved". I'm not going any further. I can make more bees and I've only lost a set of boxes.

. . . . Ben
Make the tale of your woes public to the community, especially the beekeeping community via your local associations, you might not get your stuff back but you might prevent someone else getting stung and the negative vibes will cost them more than the stolen kit is worth in the long run.
 
Had I been advising you in a legal capacity I would have asked how the hives are accessed. If they can be reached without causing damage, say by climbing over a gate, I would have suggested writing to the landowner asking for access to retrieve your property at a set time. If he did not come then to let you in, go get them. If you've not caused any damage no solicitor would suggest to him that he should take action for trespass in such circumstances.

If you would need to cause damage you open yourself up to prosecution for criminal damage, and your only legal route would be to litigate.

So I could not possibly advise that you cause damage, even if it is only to an easily replaceable padlock.

In such a case if I were a private individual so affected, I would write the letter seeking access and if he doesn't appear I would cut that padlock and get my hives, dropping off a padlock of similar quality at his home on my way to my new apiary. Although I would have caused criminal damage, given the letter and the replacement padlock it is unlikely the police would be interested.

But of course, I would never advise you to commit a criminal act like that.
 
That sounds nasty.
I would try to continue to keep all communications polite and courteous, so there is no barrier to them returning your property.
I agree, a posted letter using a signed-for service is a good call.

I also have equipment on private land and the owners weren't interested in signing anything. All I have is an answered email. So far, they are fine.

I think all you can do is persist.
 
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I can make more bees and I've only lost a set of boxes
The theft amounts to about £500, give or take, and you may prefer to walk away and start again, but the least you could do is to send a recorded letter and state that you will report the matter to the police. That may not produce landowner action and the police may do nothing, but at least it's a matter of record.

If that fails, spread the word as MBC suggested, for others to beware not only of this landowner, but of the risks of a verbal agreement which will always be open to mis-interpretation by both parties. Be aware that a family illness or calamity may have taken priority and you will have been forgotten, so wait for a reply to the recorded letter.

Next time, aim for vehicle access independent of the residents, and have a signed agreement in writing.
 
I have Gentleman's agreements for appiaries but it is a gamble and I accept it as such.

My inspections are recorded on WhatsApp so that my wife can see the notes and pictures; we are both beeks. A picture of the hives is also taken after each visit as a visual record of numbers of supers etc. The photos are taken with the GPS active on my phone so the geo tag is recorded in the meta data of each picture. Such an approach may help to prove ownership. Also recoding the site on beebase may help in a claim and also checking Google satellite immagies to show that beehives are present on the land.
 
Had I been advising you in a legal capacity I would have asked how the hives are accessed. If they can be reached without causing damage, say by climbing over a gate, I would have suggested writing to the landowner asking for access to retrieve your property at a set time. If he did not come then to let you in, go get them. If you've not caused any damage no solicitor would suggest to him that he should take action for trespass in such circumstances.

If you would need to cause damage you open yourself up to prosecution for criminal damage, and your only legal route would be to litigate.

So I could not possibly advise that you cause damage, even if it is only to an easily replaceable padlock.

In such a case if I were a private individual so affected, I would write the letter seeking access and if he doesn't appear I would cut that padlock and get my hives, dropping off a padlock of similar quality at his home on my way to my new apiary. Although I would have caused criminal damage, given the letter and the replacement padlock it is unlikely the police would be interested.

But of course, I would never advise you to commit a criminal act like that.
! I did not think you could go that far. Thanks.
 
Thanks to all the suggestions above.

Any idea of climbing gates or cutting padlocks does not appeal given the barky dogs. Not keen to find out how fast I can run in the new ventilated bee suit. :LOL:

However I don't need the stress of dragging this out or the worry of possible retribution. Maybe yes, I'm a wuss letting them take advantage of me. I've chatted to some at the association meeting. As here they were surprised/concerned. Might help some new beekeepers to get things right if they have out-apiaries.

The silent treatment from them works very well. Someone could have died. The bees could be dead and they don't want to tell me. The 'new' beekeeper at New Year could be a red herring. With just a verbal "I want you to put bees in my hive" agreement maybe the arrangement was not what they expected. Did they expect free honey? Did they expect me to visit just a couple of times a year? My fault for not explaining, setting things up properly in the first place. I just thought, "Great, an out-apiary. That will be useful" and assumed I could work the same way I did when I had hives on a friend's farm.

I did record it on BeeBase and when the bee inspectors wanted to visit (we had EFB case 2 years ago 300m from me) that was completely out of the question. The landowner has a major mistrust of authority. Made very clear that I was the only beekeeper being allowed on their land. This may have tarnished my reputation tho'.

My final act is a postcard on the gate/through the letter box saying that I'd like my equipment back, you won't hear from me again.
 
I did record it on BeeBase and when the bee inspectors wanted to visit (we had EFB case 2 years ago 300m from me) that was completely out of the question. The landowner has a major mistrust of authority. Made very clear that I was the only beekeeper being allowed on their land. This may have tarnished my reputation tho'.

As far as I'm aware, the landowner can't legally deny a bee inspector entry if they want to check for a notifiable disease. I don't know that much happens if they do however. Makes life awkward for other beeks with hives in the area though, not knowing whether there's a potential reservoir of infection nearby.

James
 
As far as I'm aware, the landowner can't legally deny a bee inspector entry if they want to check for a notifiable disease. I don't know that much happens if they do however. Makes life awkward for other beeks with hives in the area though, not knowing whether there's a potential reservoir of infection nearby.

James

If the bee inspectors have tried to contact or get access directly I'd get the blame. And I'm the loser. Another scenario I have no evidence of.

I said to the inspectors back in June(?), good luck getting access.

DSCF20240428-01-small.jpg
 
As far as I'm aware, the landowner can't legally deny a bee inspector entry if they want to check for a notifiable disease.
they can't and it's not just for notifiable diseases if I remember - it also extends to imported (or suspected importation of) bees/queens.
 
Are you a member of the Lincolnshire Beekeepers Association?
 

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