Neihbour complains about another keeping bees

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Field Bee
Beekeeping Sponsor
Jun 22, 2012
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Taken from the Daily Mail
My neighbour has started keeping bees — is there any way I can object to this?

Consumer rights lawyer Dean Dunham replies: The starting point is that your neighbour is entitled to keep bees and if they cause you no harm or significant issues you will not be able to object or stop your neighbour just because you do not like the idea.

However, if you believe the bees are causing a nuisance or a health risk to you and your family, the position potentially changes.

Nuisance caused by beekeeping may be covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as well as your local council's bylaws

A law called the Environmental Protection Act 1990 covers a range of environmental issues which may be interpreted as being a statutory nuisance, including noise, odour and pollution.

Section 79(f) states that a statutory nuisance includes, ‘any animal kept in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance’.

Actual nuisance does not have to be shown — it is enough if the activity complained of interferes with your personal comfort. Also local authorities sometimes have their own bylaws or regulations governing beekeeping so it’s worth seeing if this is the case where you live and finding out exactly what such regulations say.

Armed with what the law and any local regulations say, you should, in the first instance, speak to your neighbour and voice your concerns in a non-confrontational and friendly manner.

If this does not resolve the issue your next step will be to contact your local council’s environmental health department and make a complaint.

Bear in mind that for your complaint to be taken seriously, you will need to show that a statutory nuisance exists or that local bylaws or regulations (if they exist) are being breached.

Before making contact with the local council you should therefore gather as much evidence as possible in relation to the issue, such as photos or videos of the bees causing a nuisance or a health risk to you or your family.

If the local council accepts that a statutory nuisance exists, it will have power under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act to take various steps, including the issue of a notice requiring the abatement of the nuisance or prohibiting or restricting its occurrence or recurrence. It could also severely restrict, or even close down, the beekeeper’s activities.
On my beginner's course the advice was 'If your neighbor complains, just move them. You will lose if you fight it'.

However I'd have to be convinced that my bees were troubling anyone given I have a good amount of space. The only time I've heard from my neighbor was when I brought in and hived a large swarm. The bees thought they'd carry on checking for somewhere better and the number inspecting holes in my neighbor's eaves caused some concern.

On another occasion I learnt that the minister was stung while waiting to do a service. He'd have been 25-30m, over a couple of walls and around a tree away from my hives. But they can be seen from the church tower by the guy who winds the clock. So I got the blame. I could have pointed out a feral colony in the church tower.

You are walking on eggshells when keeping bees in a garden. Maybe I should distribute some more jars of honey.