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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

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October 26, 2011
Can bees be classified as a nuisance? - is there any legislation relating to the siting of bees and bee hives?

Under some circumstances and as a last resort yes, although there is no specific legislation relating directly to the siting of bees.

If you do have a problem relating to the siting of bees, the first advice would always be for the two parties to  talk to each other and to see if they can come to some amicable arrangement.

Realistically, there is not much that can be done to prevent bees from entering adjacent gardens but unreasonably high numbers of hives on a site or particularly aggressive or poorly managed bees can make a situation much more difficult.

If they are becoming a real nuisance then the only reasonable actions the beekeeper could take are to move the bees well away from the boundary or, preferably, reduce the numbers by moving some to an  'out apiary', a site well away from dwellings. It is perfectly possible for experienced beekeepers to manage bees safely in garden areas but the usual practice is to site them well away from neighbours and to fence the colonies in with a hedge or panel fencing high enough to encourage the bees to fly high over the heads of anyone nearby.

If after discussion with the two parties and the bees are causing a problem there are a  couple of courses of action open:

1.   You could approach the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) with the problem. If the beekeeper is a member, then the BBKA may be able to act as a mediator in some situations. They are there to encourage responsible beekeeping and have produced a guidance note regarding ''Bees, Neighbours and Siting an Apiary''.


2.   Although there is no specific legislation to control beekeeping it has been known that some local EH offices invoke (successfully) the Environmental Protection Act 1990 Section 79f 'Statutory Nuisances', although this is intended as an absolute last resort.

79 Statutory nuisances and inspections therefor.E+W

(1)[F2Subject to subsections (1A) to (6A) below], the following matters constitute “statutory nuisances” for the purposes of this Part, that is to say—

(a)any premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

(b)smoke emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

(c)fumes or gases emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

(d)any dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

(e)any accumulation or deposit which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

(f) any animal kept in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

[F3(fa)any insects emanating from relevant industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance;]

[F4(fb)artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;]

(g)noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

[F5(ga)noise that is prejudicial to health or a nuisance and is emitted from or caused by a vehicle, machinery or equipment in a street [F6or in Scotland, road];]

(h)any other matter declared by any enactment to be a statutory nuisance;

and it shall be the duty of every local authority to cause its area to be inspected from time to time to detect any statutory nuisances which ought to be dealt with under section 80 below [F7or sections 80 and 80A below] and, where a complaint of a statutory nuisance is made to it by a person living within its area, to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to investigate the complaint.

Environmental Protection Act 1990

 The NBU would not normally become directly involved with disputes involving the siting of bees.