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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    69

    Default Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    For context, I live in the historic townhouse community of Georgetown, in DC, and I have a flat roof upon which I have several hives. Yes, we have had a few swarms, but generally these hives are very well behaved and hard working.

    Also for context, the laws about beekeeping here are rather vague and contradictory, leaving us urban beekeepers in a quandary, living in a gray area.

    Now for the facts: A neighbor over a block away is claiming he is having an infestation of bees in/on his chimney, and he is blaming my bees. He indicated the infestations occurred within the last six week, with one most recently yesterday.

    In my own experience in this climate, swarms are very rare this time of year.

    So, beyond the usual "well prove that their my bees" arguments, as that is less relevant as he calls the health department on me, anybody have any additional experience in this area of human relations?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,096

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    Hove you looked at his chimney to see if the critters are really honeybees?
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Waterboro, Maine
    Posts
    72

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    Have you had any discussions with him recently? Regardless of whether you think they're your bees, maybe you could offer to help him with his "infestation". You may find that they aren't honey bees at all - problem solved.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    Going over tomorrow to 1) confirm they are honeybees, and 2) try to help him. But his wife has demonstrated some tendencies toward the unreasonable, so walking in eggshells.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Kingsville, OH
    Posts
    959

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    DNA testing sounds in order here.
    Just Kidding.
    While I live miles away, our climate is similar here in Ohio. I just (hopefully) collected a huge swarm in my own yard.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Gordonsville,VA USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    Boy ol Boy, I feel your frustration, I have a store just down the road, they called one day and tell me to come and get my bees, Humm, I go down and bees are in the garbage cans enjoying the soda (this was summer dearth) I pretend like I am doing something about it, I tell the owner, (I know pretty well), that I would recommend removing the cans and that would remove the dumped half full soda cans, and the bees aren't mine, because I recognize my bees. ( she looked at me strangely)She removes the cans off the gas island, then a few more days I get a call again, the bees are all around the dumpster, so I explain the bees are doing what they do, gathering supplies, the nectar has dried up and they do what they can do, she was very nice about it as I educated her in bug sprays and my bees are not the problem but I CAN BE if they decide to spray, she warns employees about spraying, A few days later I go in and tell them Hey guys I have 3 bees missing and want to know where they are? They all looked at each other seriously then I laughed and so did they. But the owner even told me that she found out that the bees are protected, and she would try to keep the cans from the front of store and off the gas island, just let me know when we are in a dearth. I think most people can be enlightened and some can't, but try, and when all else fails, fight for your rights and the bees right to exist period.
    I tell them funny stories about the bees and now they all ask hows the bees? when I am in there.
    Just remember, some people are bored with there lives and look to disrupt others, so check it out, all you can do, then tell them if they are bees that they aren't your bees you don't recognize any of them. move on

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,774

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    I have found being helpful at yellow jacket removal with a spray can to be a win-win situation.

    One neighbor I educated on the soda cans and she's not having problems anymore. Another "adopted" my swarm. Win-win for sure.
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    St. Joseph County, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    in my area at least swarms come both in late spring and early fall. caught my first swarm today in fact. the bees may very well be yours, however, whatever he's doing to "control" them isn't working. my understanding is that swarms will congregate in the same locations over and over because of the scent left behind. whether he's spraying them or calling a pest control guy - he's not doing anything about the scent left behind or the cavity they want to inhabit. there may even be old brood comb up in his chimney that they are smelling

    i would explain why what he's doing now isn't working and then offer to screen the chimney and put a swarm trap up there. then if he sees bees, you can just come collect them.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,774

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    2 of my hives have swarmed in the last 2 weeks.
    Time to be a gypsy again, 2014 will be my prep year, my bees want a better area with actual rainfall.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    Well, I explain my views on neighborly conflicts pretty well in this thread:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...by-my-new-bees

    Luckily that OP seemed to have rational neighbors, you, it would seem have the far more common type, the utterly unreasonable monster.

    Summary of my method: Total war. No compromise, No limits. Stand your ground now or give up and let them rule you and anyone else they meet. Even if you lose you can make it cost them so much you'll at least protect the next guy. Every time they push you, push back ten times harder.

    Good luck.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    North Tazewell, Virginia
    Posts
    345

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    Tell him these are Italian bees and yours are carnys and see what he said. Explain 2 different strains of honeybees. Blow enough smoke up his _$$ and you might get away with it. Or say my bees are marked in yellow and some went and got tatoos without your permission.LOL

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    brownwood, TX, USA
    Posts
    824

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    I once asked a lawyer friend of mine about a similar situation for another friend. His advice was: "keep talking to the neighbor, do not admit any wrong doing, and keep on bee keeping." Just keep on doing what you are doing and see if the neighbor will force the issue. Most things is life seem worse the moment that you learn of them and lessen as time passes. So in time your kind words and a other problems of their lives may take care of this problem. If not, you may be able to hire Aerindel to go over and crush their Adam's Apples under his thumbs.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    A simple, though maybe not easy, solution would be to remove your hives to an alternate location temporarily.
    if they are bees, remove them if they're accessible.

    In a week or two when he calls you about "your" bees again, you can point out that they are feral bees, not yours.
    Explain how your managed colonies were displacing some ofo the wild population and preventing some these problems until you moved them.
    After explaining that the more colonies you have on your rooftop, the less forage there is for wild bee colonies, limiting their growth and swarming, and you may turn an opponent into an ally.

    It will take some work, inconvenience, and tact, though.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Branson, MO
    Posts
    576

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    You may go over walking on egg shells (nothing wrong with that) but make sure they understand that you are there to help not for any nonsense.
    I went on a honeybee call to a rental unit the other day for a guy out of town for a wedding, of course when I got there it was yellow jackets I text him and asked for his address and told him I would go ahead and take care of them and send him a bill for 50.00.
    My wife the pessimist "won't see that"
    Got the check yesterday and maybe in the future real honeybees.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    Be helpful and informative so you set a good example as a beekeeper. Work with them to find a solution even if it is yellow jackets. Though you don't have any responsibility to provide the service for that solution, or should be compensated if you do. Even if it was your hive that swarmed, provided you followed the laws (best you could) and are practicing swarm management, it's not your fault they chose this guy's chimney.

    Your actions could prove very pivotal in straightening out your vague and contradictory laws. Set a good example and maybe you'll have more say in defining them and preventing future dilemmas!

    With colony collapse disorder in the news many more people are becoming bee-friendly. If this guy is anti-bee I doubt he'll get much support.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Stilwell, KS
    Posts
    1,818

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Aerindel View Post
    Summary of my method: Total war. No compromise, No limits. Stand your ground now or give up and let them rule you and anyone else they meet. Even if you lose you can make it cost them so much you'll at least protect the next guy. Every time they push you, push back ten times harder.
    Unfortunately that method could lead to disaster if the neighbors in question are friends of yours, but have unrealistic tolerance for bees. My neighbors (who are friends) have 4 young children. The kids play outside in their yard all the time (which is quite rare these days) about 50 to 100 feet from my 4 hives. They know I have bees and I give them honey, but they have expressed grave concerns over their kids getting stung. So far so good, but if a sting happens, I cannot tell them to go take a flying leap. I just can’t do that to my neighbors. Even for a few acquaintances further down the block. I have scouted several rural locations and I am prepared to move my hives if I have to.

    I find it amusing when people recommend the use of the nuclear option if approached by neighbors that do not want bees around. Sometimes relationships and neighborhood dynamics come first. I also do not believe that the "education and give them a jar of honey” approach works when you have a young mother on your doorstep with a hysterical screaming kid in her arms.
    Honey Badger Don't Care ಠ_ಠ ~=[,,_,,]:3

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Phoenixville, PA
    Posts
    579

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    I often thought about assembling a small flier - double side sheet - "booklet" highlighting honey bees, their life cycle, hive, crop & urban pollination. Pictures say thousands. That and separate pictures of yellow jackets, hornets and wasps with bullets about their life and a friendly visit may end issues. I fortunately resolved ours with less effort.

    Education and communication is our best means of solving all problems.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    69

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    Well, I went over there today and they are in fact honeybees, and they swarmed and took up residence in a void through their chimney mortar. Their chimney is metal lined so I assume the bees are working the area between the brick and the liner. This is the second time that bees have taken up residence there so there must be some old comb inside.

    I did speak with the woman, and she had already called (or re-called) the bee guy who handled them before and who is going to deal with them again for free. The way she described it, he uses a powder (I assume it is boric acid) to kill them.

    Still don't know whether it was my bees, but going to try to accommodate, or at least make that representation while I figure out what to do.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Eldersburg, MD, USA
    Posts
    178

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    G'ville, you cracked me up with this one "Hey guys I have 3 bees missing and want to know where they are." I thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you.
    And lazy shooter almost finished me off with his Adam's Apple comment!

    DC Honeybees, would you be able to catch the swarm safely? My chimney is too high for those shenanigans, but I'm assuming you have roof access? I'm guessing removing is not an option (surprised it didn't melt of catch on fire if they used the chimeny) if it's between a liner and the brick. Plugging holes or using screens seems to be the only option. It's a shame these folks want to kill them.
    Last edited by suburbanrancher; 09-12-2012 at 12:16 PM.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,096

    Default Re: Neighbor Throwing Down the Gaunlet On My Bees

    Once the bees are gone from the chimney, unless the hole is plugged, it will still likely be attractive to bees later.

    I would explain that to the homeowner, and see if there was an out of the way place where he would agree to allow a swarm trap to be set up. (Also plug the chimney crack with some metal screen.) Point out that any future swarms that chose the trap (over other possible locations on his property) would be quickly removed by you, at no charge. Even if you didn't want to expand your apiary to accommodate these swarms, you could likely sell them locally.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

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