Granddad says beekeeping neighbours ‘use insects as weapons’ leaving family in fear

Granddad says beekeeping neighbours ‘use insects as weapons’ leaving family in fear

A granddad has accused his beekeeping neighbours of ‘using their insects as weapons’ and leaving his own family in constant fear of being stung.

Steve Chandler, 71, says he and wife Ann have been left at their ‘wit’s end’ as they find themselves constantly running indoors to avoid the bees.

The retired farmer, from Sissinghurst, Kent, claimed just last week around 300 bees surrounded him and his daughter while they were planting pots in the garden.

Neighbours Dee Heyward-Ponte, 47, and her husband Christian, 48, have lived next door for five years.

They are members of the British Beekeeping Association, which helps to promote the understanding and importance of honeybees, reports Kent Live.

They say that the issue wasn’t raised with them until recently and if they had known it was such a problem they would have addressed it.

But Steve branded their beekeeping “out of order”.

He said: “People who use bees as weapons so you can’t use your garden, I think is a bit out of order.

“The problem is nobody cares. I got in touch with the council, I heard nothing from them.

“I tried to phone them yesterday and they put me through to the environment agency and they weren’t interested.

Steve says he was recently out with his daughter doing some gardening when she was surrounded by bees.

He explained: “We had about 300 bees all over us, there were all in our hair, we had to come indoors, we couldn’t stay out there.

He continued: “I’ve retired now, I want to use my garden, I don’t want to be running in and out of doors because of bees.

“The bees have been put there deliberately so we can’t use our garden, those bees don’t need to be there. This is unnecessary harassment as far as I’m concerned.”

Dee and Christian told KentLive they have spent the last two years rescuing bees.

At the time of the incident on May 27, the couple had five colonies in their garden.

Dee explained: “So, we had two small hives in the back garden but then swarm season came around and we were rescuing swarms from places and extracting bees.

“In the space of about a week, we suddenly had another three colonies of bees in our back garden.

“We fully intended to move them out of the garden to different locations where we keep our bees in the local area.

“It kind of happened a little bit out of control.

“We had five [colonies] on Friday (May 28) and we were planning on moving them out of the garden on the Bank Holiday weekend and move them off to the farms and just keep one there that is struggling to create itself a queen.

“We went straight round there, we hoovered them up, moved them over, nobody got stung, we gave them a jar of our honey. It was all very amicable.”

Dee continued: “On Saturday morning (May 29) the neighbour crawled over the fence to speak to us and he was very frantic and very angry and said that our bees had swarmed in their garden, they’d all been stung loads of times.

“They couldn’t go out there without being stung and they had to get a gazebo with a net all around it.

“Bear in mind we’re in the garden where all the colonies are and none of us have been stung.

“I’m not saying he wasn’t stung, it’s quite possible he was stung, but they haven’t swarmed any garden at all because we watch them everyday.

“The point is he never said a single thing to us until Saturday morning and he was all frantic and angry.

“We said to him we were really sorry and we explained to him what had happened and that we were planning to move them that weekend.

“We said to him, look if we knew it was a problem for you, we would have moved them ages ago.”

On May 30, Dee and Christian moved most of the bees to local farms.

They now have one remaining hive that was going to be moved today (June 4) but it rained.