bee stories

Thy neighbors’ bees

Do people dislike the neighbors' bees or the neighbors themselves? It's not always clear.

I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of horror stories about beekeepers and their neighbors–usually threats, warnings, or fears of some type. Well, here’s one I can’t get my mind around. It was relayed to me last summer, soon after our new neighbors began tending their garden:

Wife to husband, as she pauses with a trowel in hand: “Wow, there are so many bees around here! I’ve never seen so many bees. They’re all over the flowers. Do you think they will sting the kids?”

Husband to wife: “Don’t worry, hon. They’re the neighbors’ bees.”

Wife to husband: “Oh, I didn’t know that. Okay, then.” And she goes back to work, ignoring the bees. End of conversation.

Seriously, I don’t get it. Because they belong to us they aren’t threatening? They don’t sting? They’re kid-friendly? Do they think I’ve given them instructions? “Mind your manners over there or no t.v. tonight!”

Does ownership make bees nice? Domesticated instead of wild? Civilized and orderly? Respectful of private property? Educated, perhaps?

Or are they still mean, threatening, and sting happy, but because they belong next door you take it in stride? Like neighborhood dogs, do you accept them as a fact of life?

Yes, I am grateful, but if anyone can explain it to me, you have my rapt attention. The more I think about it, the curiouser it gets.



  • Lol, don’t complain too loud, at least ignorance is working to your advantage this time:) I live just outside of a tiny town and am fortunate enough to have nice neighbours. I walked into town the other day and found bees all over this one house, I don’t know why just that house. So this lady comes to ask me why all the bees (she probably knows I keep bees) and I tell her the season is early and no flowers are up so they are looking for food.

    She then asks me if I am even allowed to keep bees this close to town. Let me say I live in farm country and her house is more then a city block away from my hives plus we have about an acre of land. Made me so mad, I don’t know what she expected me to say, “No, I’m not allowed to keep ’em this close to town. I’m doing it to annoy you”. I find people are disproportionally afraid of bees; most have never been stung by a honey bee before and rarely by anything else but are terrified of them. When they are foraging you can kick, slap or flick them around and they wont attack you.They just fly off. If you get one stuck in your sandal though . . .

  • Perhaps it was merely acquiescence. “Oh, they are the neighbors’ (those REAALY nice neighbors)…. so they aren’t going anywhere” (even if they DO sting) 🙂

  • I think it’s the assumption that they are domesticated instead of wild bees, which could be those crazy killer bees. Of course your bees aren’t domesticated, and of course our wild bees here aren’t Africanized bees.

    Or maybe she’s just hoping for some honey this summer….

  • I personally tell my bees to only sting people over 1 kilometre away, it seems to work 🙂

    My neighbour loves our bees as his vegetable garden has twice the production this season; it feels good to know that our bees are helping to feed the local area.


  • I’m lucky I have nice neighbors. They welcomed my bees four years ago. Last year they put in a salt water swimming pool that my bees love. I try to make sure my bees have easy access to water, but think they must be drawn to the salt. Many of my bees drown in their pool and swimming and relaxing poolside with lots of bees can’t be fun for my neighbors and their young grandchildren. Any advice to managing this?

    • Wren,

      Short of putting in your own saltwater pool, I’m not sure. See if you can get a little of the saltwater (or whatever mixture they add to make the pool salty) and set up a watering hole for them (where they won’t drown) that has a similar chemical composition to the pool. It may divert a percentage of the ones going to the pool. I’m sure you won’t get all of them, but if you divert part it may be better for your neighbors.

      That’s a tough problem to solve. Be sure to let your neighbors know what you are trying to do. They will probably appreciate your attempts to help even if they don’t work perfectly.

      • Thank you so much Rusty. That sure sounds worth a try. Last year I used a small blue kids swiming pool with rocks in it thinking maybe the blue was part of the appeal. It didn’t work but this time I might put in some of the pool water…or something like it…and see what happens.


    • Bees like salt water; it aids with digestion. If you fill a bucket with some sea salt water and then fill it with wine corks so they have a way to land and drink safely, and put it closer to the hive than the pool, they should use that instead.

  • The bees belonging to a GOOD neighbor get a pass, up to the point a bare foot steps on one. From what I’ve read of your blogs you come across as a caring, compassionate and loving person, therefore your neighbors feel your bees are OK too.

  • In yee olden daze villagers put their skeps each side of the front door so the bees got used to people passing. If your neighbours are in the garden all day perhaps they think of them as just scenery.

    As for the saltwater pond, the bees need salt for electrolysis. You could get your husband to urinate at the bottom of the garden and this might prove more attractive At least if it does not work your plants will grow better!

  • I totally understand that. If you translated it, it might sound something like:

    Wife: ‘There are a lot of bees here. They could be dangerous. Do you think we should get a pest inspector in and see where they are coming from?’

    Husband: ‘They are coming from the neighbours’ place; she is a beekeeper; they are hers.’

    Wife: ‘Oh. Well we know where they’re coming from, so there’s no point getting someone in. And we’ll have to get used to them and maybe educate the kids about them, because otherwise we’ll have to confront the neighbour and then we won’t get along and that’s no good because we have to share a space. Okay, so lots of bees is something we’ll be getting used to then’

  • Love the website. I’m new to beekeeping. My neighbors love my bees. I did inform them they may not want to go barefoot when the white clover comes out. When I started this year I made them aware that I had bees. I informed them they are harmless and just to ignore them. They love them for their flowers and gardens.

  • I have had two neighbors on two different occasions ask about my bee hives and say they’re allergic to bee stings. I responded by expressing concern and asking if they had to carry an epi pen. One of them said he didn’t but should (acknowledging personal responsibility). The other just sniffed and said she’d never had to before. Then she said she would be sure not to plant anything in her garden that would attract them. Her backyard is the most flower-ful on the block. Since it took her a couple of years to even notice them, there doesn’t seem to be any real problem, only a perceived one.

  • I have one better.

    I queried my neighbors about starting a hive. Most were receptive, except for one. This particular neighbor has always had issues with everyone in the neighborhood. They are the type of neighbors that have a dozen dogs that bark all day and all night, but expect the other neighbors to cut them slack. When the shoe is on the other foot, they are the exact opposite of what they demand from others.

    In any case, the city approved my beehive request. So, I strategically placed my hive behind a 7′ screen. . . . As you might expect, the complaints to the city skyrocketed. Bee stings in the immediate area went up 10 fold over previous years. The noise was unbearable. We even had complaints of bears in the neighborhood. All of this caused by the bees. The city hauled me to court. The complaining neighbors showed page after page after page of medical bills from bee stings, paint damage to their cars (?!?), even the vet bill for a dog that was stung to death by my bees.

    The case was closed when I simply told the court that I had not yet populated the hive.

    • John,

      I loved this story and suggested that our local beekeeping journal include it this month. (This is in Leeds, England.)

      Our editor also loved it, but cited copyright reasons as to the reason why she could not, being scrupulous and careful.

      Would you be willing to give permission for your story to be reprinted in our magazine?

      John from Leeds

      • John,

        Absolutely, as long as I’m given credit. By the way, Bee Craft magazine (based in London) routinely reprints my articles (about 6-8 times per year) and there has never been a problem.

  • Hi from the UK.

    I love this story, as I also have had problems with a neighbour. I did a similar thing: I put the hives in the garden about 2 months before I got the bees and went out regularly in the bee suit. They also complained before I got the bees. They rang the environmental health department to complain but it was satisfying to be able to say I didn’t have any yet. I now have bees and I don’t think they have noticed any difference. It is all a little mad but what can you do when people have such fixed preconceptions.

    • Marie,

      That is amazing, but it doesn’t surprise me. People understand so little about the world around them . . . and they are so fearful.

  • I think this is the most personable blog site I have ever read. Thank you for all that you do and share!

    So, my story is interesting and somewhat unique. I am in the heart of Baltimore, Maryland. There are townhouses, businesses and concrete jungle for miles. I haven’t begun beekeeping yet (I’m almost all set for this Spring), but I have already spoken to some of my neighbors about my future endeavors. The neighbor immediately to my left, is super excited and offered to plant bee-friendly plants for them in his garden. He’s awesome.

    I’m a little nervous to talk about it with my neighbors to the right. They are somewhat older and they are hardcore urbanites. But I doubt they will even notice because they’re never outside.

    However, directly next to them is a lonesome little lady who *swears* she’s allergic to bees. I’ve tried explaining to her that she has probably never been stung by a “honeybee” but she believes she has. I’ve gotten questions wondering if the neighborhood kids will be okay and things of that nature.

    I guess this isn’t really a story because I’m not beekeeping yet. But I have to say, after all the research and networking I’ve done, I have not met anyone or read anything with a situation quite like mine. It is legal to have up to two hives on your property here (with a few minor stipulations). My hive will be on the second story roof (it juts out and I have access from a door on the third floor), well out of the way of the general public.

    The point here; I have *many* more neighbors to worry about than most beekeepers. I’m nervous about swarming and such, since I’m already getting push-back from people. And in this city, people are either super friendly, or super not. I guess we’ll see! Just thought I’d share and help you county folk feel better about your situations. 🙂

    • Roy,

      Some of us are “country folk” but many are beekeepers in New York City, London, Los Angeles, and Toronto. These folks have just as many neighbors as you do, if not more. There are two schools of thought on telling the neighbors. I’m of the school that says, “Say nothing, do your best to hide your bees, manage carefully, and hope for the best.” Once they find out (if they ever do) give honey every year as a peace offering.

      The other school, of course, tells them upfront. But really, some of the ones that object the most would never even find out you if you didn’t tell them.

      If you haven’t, be sure to read, “A tale of two neighbors.”

      • Thanks, Rusty!

        I did read “A tale of two neighbors.” Cute story. But bears? That doesn’t sound like any kind of situation I will ever be in where I live. What I meant was, I haven’t read a lot online about urban challenges. Suburban, yes. But not deep in the city like I am. I know there are some beekeepers even in my area, but they aren’t sharing their information online and the few close by haven’t returned my emails.

        I think I may opt for the first school of thought, hiding my bees. Hopefully I’ll get away with it! I look forward to sharing my experiences. 🙂

  • I need some advice. I have a neighbor who is getting their first hive shortly. They are planning on putting it up 100 feet from my chlorinated built in pool. I have tons of white clover in my yard as I have four small dogs and didn’t want to use pesticides to keep the weeds at bay. All four of my pups chase after and eat bugs. My husband had a bad reaction to a bee sting a couple of years back and wound up in the hospital. I also have 2 young grandsons who spend a lot of time visiting. Needless to say, we are very concerned about them getting bees. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We’re besides ourselves in thinking that we won’t be able to enjoy our backyard this summer…

    • Christelle,

      You are reading way too much into this. Chances are if you didn’t know about the hive, you would have never even noticed the bees. You have a right to your dogs and your pool; they have a right to their bees. It is short-sighted to think you deserve more rights than your neighbor. Living in a community involves give and take, it involves cooperation. You can’t have everything your way. Besides, your grandsons would probably love the bees. Ask your neighbor if they can have a look inside the hive or a taste of the honey.

      My suggestion is you look at the hive as a learning opportunity instead of a threat to your lifestyle. You say, “We’re beside ourselves.” Well, get back into yourselves and live instead of cowering in fear.

      • Rusty, I’m not looking to have everything my way. I am looking to be able to enjoy my yard as I have for the past 23 years. I’ve been looking into this topic for a couple of months since they informed us of their intent. A friend of theirs just posted that they’re seeing a lot of honey bees in their pool and tons in the yard as they have clover. (They live near someone else who has a few hives). My 4 rescue dogs are constantly in the back yard and actively jump after anything flying. My grandsons don’t like the bees. Conversation recently with the youngest, aged 7: You must be excited about summer and no school! His response: I like everything about summer except bees. I have not told them about them being delivered soon. I also have a pool birthday party coming up in a month and did not want them to be concerned. I agree, they have a right to their bees. However if that right infringes on us enjoying our backyard oasis, then it crosses the line. My husband (who’s got a bad heart) got stung and his arm blew up. He wound up in the hospital with an iv. Now I’m looking into quarantining the dogs for a few days so I can put down weed killer which will hopefully take care of the clover. I’m doing what I can to diminish the likelihood of any human/dog getting stung running around the yard. We play a lot of games with the kids – volleyball, bocci ball, croquet, wiffleball.

        Short sighted that I think I have more rights than my neighbor? HUH? I’m trying to be proactive and do whatever I can to work with this situation and was looking for suggestions from experienced bee keepers. I can’t say that your response delivered anything remotely helpful. I’ll look at this as a learning opportunity once I’m comfortable being able to walk barefoot in my grass and enjoy my pool without any bees buzzing around. We’ve never had a problem before and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there won’t be one once they arrive. But from all the reading I’ve been doing, I’m not holding my breath.

        • Christelle,

          As I just wrote in a recent post, children reflect the fears of their parents: if the parents have a positive attitude about bees, so will the children. If the parents, grandparents have fear and loathing, so will the children. As for dogs, they are not stupid. After they get stung a time or two, they will stop snapping at bees—it’s the way the world works.

          You write, “Now I’m looking into quarantining the dogs for a few days so I can put down weed killer which will hopefully take care of the clover.” Really? Weed killer is designed to kill living things. Are not your dogs/grandchildren living things? You—everyone—should be much more afraid of weed killer than bees. The synergistic effects and breakdown products of many of these chemicals are more toxic than the poisons themselves, and they don’t disappear “after a few days.” You are the very person I wrote about last week. You should read that post and the comments that follow.

          By the way, your next meal comes thanks to the bees. An environment without bees and filled with poisonous substances cannot support human life. You seem to be on a one-person mission to speed up the demise of the planet. Then no one will be having pool parties or playing volleyball, bocci ball, croquet, or wiffleball.

  • Christelle,

    One thing that would help is setting your mower blade at it’s lowest setting. I have two bee hives in my yard and lots of dutch clover. I’m constantly watching where I step so I don’t step on one of the sisters, but rarely see one on the clover. It’s mind boggling to think that forty some years ago, there were more bees around with no beekeeper’s hives in the vicinity than there are with two hives in my own yard. Another thing that would help is talking to your neighbor and asking if they’re going to be a responsible beekeeper and keeping a source of water in the immediate vicinity of the hives. The bees that come to your pool will be dead bees. They can’t swim.

    • Julie – Thank you for your suggestion. This is exactly what I was hoping to receive – helpful ways in which to work with the situation to minimize the effect on my enjoyment of my backyard. I specifically have not used any weed killers since I became a dog owner 5 years ago. My once pristine lawn is now a host to various weeds, most notably, white clover. I am also looking into non toxic methods or landscapers in the area who promote this type of weed remediation.

      I would like to think that my neighbors would be responsible beekeepers. They are a younger couple who also have dogs – non of which have ever been registered. I’m aware that all hives need to be registered and inspected annually as I’ve spent time reviewing our states Agricultural guidelines. I’m hopeful that they will follow these guidelines, but they’re history with their dogs has not demonstrated responsibility, so I’m not holding my breath.

      BTW, I’ve been reading on the bees in the water and have the understanding to be careful in scooping them out as they might not be dead and to use caution as they might be aggressive. I really am trying to work with this situation. Are we nervous? Yes, especially my husband. But with knowledgeable and caring responses from people like yourself, I will continue to try and work with the situation. Thank you. Perhaps you could talk to Rusty and let him know I’m not hell bent on ending the living world as we know it.

      • Christelle,

        Rusty is actually a woman and she gets lots and lots of people asking about how to eradicate bees. I think it makes her a little testy, in fact one of her recent blog posts was about that very topic.

        Being a responsible beekeeper is rather involved. Some people install their hives and leave it up to fate, some dose their bees with chemicals. I’m trying to responsibly keep hives, using non-chemical methods and good management methods. Despite that they cast off three swarms this spring which must have been fairly alarming to my tolerant neighbors with the large constantly barking stinky-poo Doberman. The reason I bring up my neighbors beautiful dog is that tolerance works both ways, and is something I firmly proscribe to. To be on the safe side, if your husband has life threatening reactions to bee stings, he should always have a current epipen nearby, but I don’t think you’ll even notice your neighbors bees.

      • Christelle, we have bees and a pool. I keep my pool covered with a leaf net when not in use so that the bees cannot get water from the pool. As a result we have very few bees in the vicinity when we are actually swimming. Hope that helps. (I also leave them water at another location-dripping tap works best that way they don’t drown)

  • Hi Christelle,

    I’m not yet a beekeeper but I have my hives on order and would like to give you my perspective. I think some of the earlier posts were just an attempt to realign your expectations. I have a partner who is not enthusiastic about having hives in her garden, and her mother (my future mother-in-law) is allergic and extremely afraid of bee(s) (haha yes a singular bee as well as bees). So I have to weigh their concerns, along with my municipality which, in addition to state laws, has additional restrictions on hives.

    The first comment I’d make is ‘is it reasonable to expect to run across your yard with clover and not expect to ever step on a bee’. My first memory as a child was growing up in the middle of rural upstate New York and stepping on a bee barefoot. I quickly learned that during the summer the yard was COVERED in bees and my barefoot adventures had to be restricted or shoes worn. Contrast that today where I see 15-20 bumblebees at a time (hardly covering the yard) and a total of one honeybee in the year I’ve had the house. Given the importance of bees to our entire lifestyle and world, I’d much rather teach my future children to wear shoes, and hope for a day where my yard is once again covered in bees, as it’s a healthier world for them to grow up in.

    With that said, as part of me warming my partner up, we have visited a number of apiaries, from retired gentlemen with 2-3 hives, to active beekeepers with yards of 15-20 huge hives as tall as I am. While the 15 hives the size of me made quite the impression, I can assure you that the gentleman with 2-3 hives in the shade at the end of his backyard . . . you’d never know the bees were there unless you were looking for them, or if you ran a mower past them. I walked within two feet of the hives without a clue until he pointed them out.

    A large factor in this scenario is how many hives (just one?), location in their yard, how they are managed etc. In my opinion, if you accept that bees are an important and nature part of our landscape, and indeed one to be encouraged, I personally don’t think you will see much of a difference between no hive, and one hive, well situated.

    Indeed regularly mowing your yard will reduce the clover flowers and stepping on a bee, I personally just feel its a bit of an awkward solution instead of just wearing shoes? And it’s a Texan who is saying that 🙂 Indeed it’s important for the bees to have a water supply, so no harm in pointing that out to your neighbors to ensure they are not a pest to your pool.

    Finally please keep in perspective the request. Your neighbor is asking for your tolerance and respect of their desire to help the environment and the world we all live in and enjoy. Their active pursuit of that goal is something we should all encourage, be it by planting a backyard garden, using a bicycle more often, or keeping bees. Finally I would let your neighbor install the hive (as it’s a bit silly to get worked up in advance of an actual problem) before you assert your right to enjoying your backyard. And if it comes to that please keep in mind their good intentions at heart and strive to find a compromise. In my particular case, the city is very uncomfortable with me placing a hive in my suburban backyard. Rather then push the issue on the basis of state law, I’ve always approached with a conciliatory tone seeking a compromise and they have offered me 4 different emplacements on city land within 2 miles of my house (in drainage ponds where I can place the hives on the banks in a fenced enclosure away from houses). I can’t exactly complain when my wish is to keep bees and improve the environment if they simply ask me to do it one mile down the road instead of in my backyard.

    So I guess in short, I hope you can recognize how shocking the change in the environment has been over the last 20 years and how badly we need to work to reverse that. With that said please don’t jump to conclusions about how bad the problem will be, work on simple solutions like lawn mowing and a secondary water source. Speak with your neighbor in a supportive and positive way, perhaps working with them to take your concerns into account on hive placement, and finally don’t hesitate to be creative if it is a genuine issue even when you try to look the other way.

    Best of luck and enjoy the free honey!

    • Rob – I never wear shoes in my backyard. I have yet to step on a bee. I practice something called *grounding* by realigning myself to the earth as much as I can – which means to be in direct contact the the earth. I use grounding sheets on my bed and a grounding mat under my desk chair. I’m barefoot as often as I can be. I’m out in the backyard a lot as I’m retired and only observe bees in my various gardens (most of which are on my front property).

      My husband is the person most objecting to the bees. Unfortunately, he is one head -strong man (runs in his family) and when he makes his mind up on something, there is no discussing the issue. Period. In the meantime, I’m doing all the research I can to minimize the possibilities of them in our yard. Mowing the lawn low was a great suggestion. I normally keep my grass longer and mow more often to keep the roots longer and deeper. We started adopting dogs 4 years ago and have yet to have any incidents with any of them being stung. They are outdoors all the time in the good weather.

      My neighbors are all new at this. I respect their desire to raise bees, but I don’t want it to occur at our expense. They are not the most conscientious people (ie, they have three dogs for many years, all of who are still not house trained) so I don’t have a lot of *faith* in their following protocol or remembering to keep the bird bath filled with water. Much of what I have read indicates that honey bees are very attracted to chlorinated water. The hive will be less an 100 feet from my pool.

      Just to let you know, I am a very eco-conscious person in my own way. I’ve been driving a Prius for 10 years and have been heating my home with alternative energy to lesson my carbon footprint. The bee business came out of no-where, and I’m trying to be a responsibile neighbor by educating myself as much as I can. Not everyone is bee savvy, but I’m trying. I appreciate your response. Thank you.

  • Christelle,

    I too have a pool about 150 ft from my five hives. The moment that water starts splashing out, the bees come for a drink. We have had numerous parties with 50+ kids running around barefoot totally oblivious to the bees. We tell the kids that they are my bees and if they come up to you they just want to sniff you and not to worry. For some reason the fact that the bees are owned seems to make people feel better…go figure. We tell the kids to watch out where they walk and not to run to allow time for the bees to move out of the way. Generally that advice is ignored.

    To date we have only had one bee sting at the pool due to a kid stepping on it. My point being that even though the bees are there, in decent number, our ability to use our pool and not been impeded in the least. The bees just want a drink and don’t care about anything else provided you don’t step on them. They gladly clear out of your way and let you do your thing. In fact, the kids love to watch them on the side of the pool as they drink; it is a great opportunity for them to get up close and personal with the bee without having to worry about getting stung. I understand the concern, but from my experience, I think it unlikely that the bees will interfere with the enjoyment of your pool.

    On another note… If your neighbors are as inattentive as you say, their hive likely won’t last through the winter. It does take some effort and attention to keep a hive going these days.

    • David C is right about the inattentive neighbors bit. I was attentive, but am also still learning and I lost one of my two hives last winter. At our beekeepers association meeting I heard that quite a few beekeepers lost 75% of their hives, and supposedly they were attentive.

    • David –

      This is exactly what I am concerned about. At this stage of the game, we want to enjoy our home without anyone interfering in it. We have lots of young kids coming over. Now I’ve got to worry about keeping everyone composed while walking around spraying bees?

      I have been doing a lot of investigative reading on pools and bees. The USDA’s article: Honey bees and your swimming pool: not a good mix.

      When bees forage for water, they are not too fussy about where they collect it. It could be from a small, muddy puddle, a stream or your swimming pool, irrigation system, swamp cooler or birdbath. It is when bees come in contact with people, especially at swimming pools, that people notice them. Then they are considered not only a nuisance, but also a hazard.

      Here are some tips on how to keep bees away from your pools.

      1.When you first notice bees around your pool, mix a 1/4 cub of dish soap to a quart of water, and fill an empty sprayer bottle with it. Using the soapy mixture, spray any bees that are at your pool.
      2.This soapy mixture will kill the bees quickly and without harmful pesticide residues.
      3.Do this every time you see bees at a water source you want to keep bee-free.
      4.This will kill those foragers who are telling others in the colony where your swimming pool is located. Eventually, all those foragers who are not returning to the colony, will have died. Other foragers will find a different source of water, so do not worry that you are harming the colony. Your are only eliminating a few individuals.

      I’ve got to mow my lawn to a short length and wear foot coverings in my own yard. And stay away from my pool or deal with the bees.

      There is a right way to be a responsible beekeeper. If my neighbors had done their homework beforehand, they would have realized that having a hive so close to our pool would probably diminish our quality of life. When the USDA posts an article entitled: Bees and Pools: Not a Good Mix” and then goes on to say: ” It is when bees come in contact with people, especially at swimming pools, that people notice them. Then they are considered not only a nuisance, but also a hazard.”

      That has me believing that they should consider putting their hive somewhere else. She has an uncle with a farm who lives nearby, perhaps that might be a better location?

  • Hello everyone! Can not resist to comment on this.

    My one neighbor, Ms Colman complains about everything. I tried to be a good neighbor with her. A few years ago we had a horrible accident – apparently “my” bee stings their gardener. O, she was so exited complaining! I told her that we shall establish a “bee-day,” when I am working with bees and her gardener is not around. I did not see her for quite a while. Recently, I saw her and politely asked how she is doing. She starts complaining about something – it was so annoying that I decided to change the subject. I had good news to her that three our other neighbors – got the bees! She was very upset. She told me how horrible it is, that she can not now complain regarding bees, because other neighbors are so not nice to her and did not listen. I was only a decent neighbor because she can complain to me and I was always politely listening… I have to admit that I enjoy confirming that, yes, she can not complain regarding bees only to me – she must complain to all beekeepers in our neighborhood.

    Crhistelle – I have 4 beehives within 20 feet from the house. Over last 4 years, my wife got 4 stings: 1 from neighbor’s bee (I know exactly), 2 – I already forgot from who and the last one – in farmers market. If you concern about bees – you have to concern about ALL bees within 2.5 mile radius – any bee can come to your house (pool)! You need to understand, that bees are wild animals. Nobody can train them as a dog!

  • Christelle,

    Perhaps I’m slightly less flexible today, seriously, if you want to be ‘grounded’ with the earth I can assure the bees have no interest separating your bare feet from the ground. It seems pretty clear that you aren’t interested in a compromise, and your definition of success revolves on living in a bubble without any bees. This simply isn’t the world we live in, nor is it the world any rational person would want to live in.

    I hate to break it to you, but you do not have the high ground here with your grounding and prius in your driveway. It is your neighbor who is doing much more for the community by keeping bees which will benefit every garden, plant and animal in a 3 square mile area. I understand most people would prefer to drop 40,000 USD on a prius and use that as their badge of honor, but as with most things the easy solutions are false ones. There can simply be no debate that your neighbor keeping bees is a bonus for the community, even if they all die in the first winter from neglect! Thus any argument that you put forward can simply be re-articulated as my needs xxxxxxxxx are more important than everyone else’s well being. It is this sort of selfishness that needs to be changed in our society. Sadly humanity has a habit of not changing until they wake up in the middle of famine or war.

    I hope you reconsider your approach and attitude.


    Rob T

  • How Prius benefits the environment is questionable because of concerns related to batteries – manufacturing and utilization are not environmentally friendly. As for “grounding” – we have a friend, who is expert in this. We had a long conversation on this matter. She told me that “grounding” does not make sense in the city with all cell-phones and other electomagnetic fields unless you make a cage (literally) from steel mesh; dig a hole in the garden at least 10 feet deep; place a sheet of 3×3′ copper in the hole, connect “cage” to the copper sheet by heavy wire, bury the copper sheet … and live in the cage! There is no need to walk bare feet in the garden. By the way – there were experiments in grounding the bees! It was shown that it did not do anything noticeable to the bees, but some followers do believe in grounding magic. Good luck everyone with your bees! Sergey

    PS If you really concern regarding “grounding,” you may need to check the apparatus called BEMER. It provides beneficial electromagnetic “vibrations.” Popular in Europe. Cost $3K.

  • This is a challenging enough topic — most everyone swells up from a bee sting, and a FEW are dangerously allergic, etc. It is a legit concern, even if how people respond is not always rational. Overcoming the dislike people have for being stung seems legit for discussion here, but register me as disappointed by the way this discussion is now veering into rude comments over who drives what type of car. This seems unneeded in this forum — can folk take that snark elsewhere?

    • Glen, I’m not really seeing all of the comments as snark. Mostly as replies to Christelle’s comments. It sounds to me that while she is appearing to ask out of concern, in reality is taking this forum as a way to complain about her neighbors’ irresponsibility in taking care of their animals, while also having a negative impact on her lifestyle. I feel the responses she is getting is what she has actually asked for by her own comments. I like this page, having stumbled upon it trying to find out how to remove bee poop from my house, and find I really like the interactions and comments of the posters. I am learning so much about honey bees I never knew before. I dont like getting stung either, but I dont blame others when I do. The bees are just being bees.

      • Gwen — I didn’t intend to say that most of the blog comments were snarky. I meant to only to be responding to a couple of comments just before mine, that I felt had crossed the line into unneeded rudeness. It is ticklish enough without those sort of side comments.

        Glen Buschmann

  • Christelle,

    I have 4 hives that are 50 feet from my jacuzzi. I also have 2 dogs and 3 grandchildren. My grandchildren have never been stung at my house, I have flowers and clover all over my lawn, and always walk barefoot in my yard. I have never been stung on my feet. You get stung when you bother the bees, leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone.

    Anne A.

  • Hello,

    I have to differ with you passionate beekeepers. I have a neighbor with bees and they are landing on my head when I stand in the front yard of the house. This is in a place where they couldn’t even see me.

    The bees are right on the edge of my property and there was no one living here for quite sometime. I want to help the bees and keep them safe but I would also like to stand in my front yard without bees landing on my head.

    I think you are way to cavalier about this OR my neighbors has different kinds of bees.

    • Cathy,

      If honey bees are landing on your head, my guess is that your shampoo or other hair product is scented with something that is attracting them. Honey bees are vegetarians and are in a constant search for certain flowers. They are not looking at you as something to eat or kill (as a wasp may be) but if you smell like a flower, they may very well check to see if you are a nectar source. Try using something unscented and see if that helps. Many beekeepers, myself included, avoid scented products.

  • Interesting, my limited experience as a bee-hobbyist shows that bees are great learners. They learn about place too and they normally do not “attack” on their territory unless somebody rudely “broke the rules”. Neighbor’s cat loves to visit our garden. When he is leaving, he walks just in front of beehive blocking the entrance. He normally pass the beehive and sit in 2′ from it. Somehow bees and cat managed to beeeee in one place in peace. One beehive due to lack of space is situated just next to the path through our native CA garden, so I walk through bees many times every day; it seems to me that bees just get used to it. My other beehive is less forgiving. Bees managed to be a part of nature even in our corrupted environment and it is a great gift! We need to re-learn how to live in union with Nature … and bees!

    • “Bees managed to be a part of nature even in our corrupted environment and it is a great gift!”

      Yes, so true!

  • I have been reading the blog and it’s been interesting. I need advice. I just noticed recently that my neighbour has bee hives in his back yard. He never told me about them, and they are 5 feet from my yard. Today he was using the smoking device (forgive my ignorance, don’t know the proper term) then about 20 minutes larger I went on my porch and had a bee fly right at me, I ran in the house and it actually chased me all the way upstairs. (My husband thought I was getting murdered the way I was gscreaming, because it kept flying in my hair.). Luckily the bee landed in the window sill where I trapped him and took pictures of it, and it did look like a honey bee. I didn’t think honey bees would act this way and am a little concerned if they do, cause I have a huge flower garden a few feet away from their home. I should add, that I’m not scared of bees, only when they attack me, and I am an advocate for all natural stuff. Was this a honey bee and what should I do? Thx

    • Laura,

      The smoke usually has a calming effect on bees, which is why beekeepers use it. Honey bees are often more aggressive this time of year because of the heat and because of the lack of flowers with lots of nectar. Once the cooler weather sets in, most likely they will calm down again.

      Bees detect movement. When a honey bee begins to chase me, I hold absolutely motionless. It will usually inspect you a bit and then leave. I know it’s hard to do if you are not used to it, but it really does work.

  • Christelle,

    I am new to beekeeping and I have learned a lot in the past 9 months. I bought 2 packages of bees and caught a swarm. Word got out and I have removed bees from everything from chicken houses to birdhouses. In 9 months I have 6 hives. I have been stung, but I was messing with their home without proper protective gear. I asked for it. Other than that ,I never know they are around.

    My neighbors have swimming pools and I haven’t had a problem nor have they mentioned problems. I hope you are worrying about a problem that doesn’t exist. Most things we worry about never happen and I certainly hope this is the case. I live just outside the city limits. Our city declared bees to be wild animals and they don’t control wild animals. My state doesn’t inspect small operations such as mine.

    My son helps me so he has bees at his house and he does live inside the city limits. He talked to his neighbor. They were excited that he was getting bees. The lady next door said her dad had bees when she was growing up. Later she said she got stung by one of his bees. Her husband said she checked the license plate to make sure it was his. She is now excited that her Ju-Ju tree has more fruit than ever this year.

    The truth is there are bees everywhere whether they are managed or not. The first thing I realized is no one owns bees. If we can keep them in a standard hive box we might realize some honey in a good year. If there are no managed hives in your area, they are feral and live in trees or the attic of a home somewhere.

    My grandchildren came to stay with us for a month. I suited them up and we went to look at the bees. We opened the hive boxes and examined them. They were taken in by all the bees. The first thing I told them before going to the bees was to not get excited, don’t wave your arms, and don’t try to hurt them. Later they went to a friends home to ride horses and my wife was telling one of them to come on (they are 8 year old twins). The other twin responded that she had a bee on her. My wife looked and sure enough she had a bumble bee on the back of her arm. She just froze and was waiting for it to fly away.

    Bees seldom sting when they are away from their hive because they have nothing to protect. If they do sting they have been threatened. When I drove into my backyard with my first bees, I saw other honey bees on the small blossoms in my lawn. Not mine. They were already there. I am afraid they are already in your yard too. We can’t keep them out and we don’t want to keep them out. Einstein was credited with saying that if we killed all the bees today man would be gone in 4 years. We MUST learn to live with them. My suggestion would be to make your yard less desirable for bees. There are certain flowers that attract honey bees and some that don’t. You can plant those that don’t attract bees and still have an attractive yard. As for killing the bees you can do that … maybe. Check the laws and make sure it is legal. It isn’t legal where I live. We have found the value of having bees. Try to learn to adapt to their world first, then see what happens. I sincerely hope you are worrying about a problem that doesn’t and will not exist. Thanks for listening.

  • I have a very sweet story to share. Two weeks ago my wife organized a huge fundraiser for the kids to go to college. They had an event called “Splash of LA.” Huge parking lot in the center of downtown LA was covered with tents. They had music, games and delicious home/hand-made food including some famous Mexican sweet drinks from fruits.

    At some point a huge “swarm” of bees come to the event. As I realized later, it was not a real swarm, it was just a huge amount of thirsty and hungry bees. They paid close attention to the sweet drinks station. They came under the tent and the tent was full of bees! Of coarse, everybody come to me asking my opinion on bees. What I can tell? I can not magically remove all these bees. So, event continued for another few hours with bees! What really strikes me:

    – people were calm and just curious
    – nobody call pest control etc and complain
    – event was not disturbed
    – people continue coming for drinks through thick “wall” of bees!
    – event holds a couple of hundreds of people, many kids
    – one kid was stung AND he won my honey as a prize in the raffle!
    Poor bees. Downtown LA is all concrete – they have no water and no food.

    P.S. Everybody was joking that my bees (from home) follow me to this event! I was really touched how people were patient and gentle with bees. Very special great experience.

    Also, totally different subject:

    I just “realized” that gas-meter man must walk in front of beehive in order to get gas readings. When I saw him – I apologized and proposed to relocate beehive. He completely refuses my offer. He told me that he has no problem with my bees and accept jar of honey. Very nice!

    • Sergey,

      That is a sweet story, and I especially like the last part. People often surprise me in a bad way, but the good kind of surprise just bowls me over. Way to go, Sergey! I would have loved to see you handle all that.

  • Yes, many people obsessed with danger bees can (?) present. At the same time, many do not worry about pollution, unhealthy food, car-accidents etc. We had out of nowhere the lightning in the Venice Beach – it killed one person (?) and injured 8 (?), just a mile from my bees! Russian practical joke stated: “Life is dangerous because it causes the death” (can not die if not living) 🙂

  • I have a “neighbor” bee problem that is a bit different. They host a friend’s hive on their property, next to my farm, which is overabundant with bee forage (for my bees!). My first year, the hives were robbed and I lost them both. This year, I got three more, and they were doing fine . . until the friend put 3 more hives next door. Not an issue, except he has very aggressive bees — to the point the neighbors can’t get within 200 ft. of the hives. After a very productive summer, my bees were once again robbed, and I may lose them yet again this year. Since the neighbors have NO bee forage (they have vineyards) how should I approach this problem, as I am sure those bees are the robbers?

    • Eddy,

      I don’t think there is anything you can do except protect your own hives from being robbed. It would be hard to prove where the robbers came from and, in any case, if your hives are susceptible to robbing, bees from somewhere else will rob them even if the neighbor bees don’t. During nectar dearths, bees fly further than normal in search of food, so those robbers could have come from five miles away. And don’t forget, a five-mile radius is 50,000 acres.

      Furthermore, even if they are your neighbors bees, what can you do about it? Probably nothing. Just reduce entrances or use robber screens and forget it.

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