Bees make Berkeley family ‘prisoners in own home’

Sam and Shane Smith say they and children Billy and Kelsey can’t use their backyard for fear of being stung by their neighbour’s bees. Picture: GREG TOTMANSwarms of bees, flying out of a neighbour’s backyard hives, have been terrorising a young Berkeley family, forcing them to hide in their house to avoid being stung.
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Shane Smith and wife Samantha have been battling the bees since they moved into their Northcliffe Drive home nearly six years ago and noticed the buzzing insects circling the yard.

The swarming bees, which are worse in the warmer months, have forced the couple to keep their young daughter Kelsey and baby boy Billy inside, for fear of them being stung.

‘‘We honestly feel like prisoners in our home,’’ Mr Smith said.

‘‘We can’t go out in the yard – I wanted to go out and put some new stairs in over the weekend and Kelsey wanted to help me and we just couldn’t go outside.

Bees swarming over the fence of the home.

‘‘Sam has been stung on the head a few times while hanging out the washing; I’m highly allergic – if I get stung, I swell up like anything so I can only imagine what the kids will be like.

‘‘Kelsey is now too scared to go outside as we’ve had two big swarms over the past two weeks.’’

Mr Smith said the hives regularly sent thousands of bees over their fence.

‘‘The hives are located about a metre from our barbecue – we can’t even cook outside in summer,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s got to the point where we can’t have windows and doors open; we can’t put lights on in the backyard as they’re attracted to the light and I can’t work in my garage at night unless I have a huge can of fly spray at the ready.’’

The couple said they had repeatedly asked their neighbour to move the hives but were simply told ‘‘the bees were here before you’’.

They have now lodged a formal complaint with the Department of Primary Industries.

According to the department, home owners are allowed to keep two hives on a small block.

If a complaint is lodged, the ‘‘number of hives will be closely examined [and a beekeeper] may be directed to reduce or remove hives from the location,’’ the department website said.

While Mr Smith recognised bees were important to the environment, he said he was tired of having his backyard hijacked by the pesky insects.

‘‘I understand they’re important to the ecosystem but what about my kids? I pay rates, the bees don’t.’’

The department confirmed it was investigating the complaint.

Need to knowBeekeepers must be registered with the NSW DPI.Beehives must be identified with their registration number.Beekeepers may be directed to remove hives if the apiary is located where bees threaten public health and safety or create a public nuisance.Keep only docile strains of bees.Sit hives in a warm, sunny location to enhance bee health.Provide water for the bees.Control swarming.Hives should not be located close to schools, childcare centres, hospitals, sporting grounds or other public facilities.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.