I'm pleased to say, most people these days are keen to help bees, and leave bee nests alone. However, now and then there are queries with regard to nest sites for bumble bees, and whether they can legally be destroyed - in particular, whether a neighbour can force another neighbour to remove or kill bees on their property.
here is such a scenario:
Can my local council force me to remove a bumble bee nest from the bird box of our garden shed?
I don’t want to remove it, but our neighbour is a bunch of sour grapes, and wants it destroyed. I have tried to reason with them, but they have now claimed they have an allergy. I don’t believe her, because she finds anything and everything to complain about, and she didn’t mention it at first.
When I refused and told her we need the bees, she threatened to call the local council. Can the council force me to destroy the nest? What should I do? – John, UK
Funnily enough, I have just had a fairly similar query, and so have decided to add my response to help others.
However, please note, the following is not legal advice, which I cannot provide. Any decision you take is yours.
My thoughts, however, are as follows:
It is a real shame to learn about the situation with your neighbour. However,many councils these days, take a dim view of removing nests of bumblebees, because they are temporary and pose little danger. They will often refuse point blank to do it (in fact, even some pest control companies also refuse to move bumble bee nests!).
However, it might be better to let the council explain that to your neighbour.
With any luck, they will draw a line under the matter, and your neighbour will not take further action!
However, if the worst comes to the worst, this situation is actually much easier than other situations I have heard about. For a start, if the bird box can be removed from the shed in its entirety, there is a better chance of relocating the nest, I think. Do it at night, wear protective clothes, cover the entry holes, and try to remove it as smoothly as possible – you may hear some annoyed buzzing, but as long as all exit points are covered, you should be okay. Place the nest box in its new home – it’s a good idea to have the new spot confirmed in advance – perhaps a neighbour a few doors away, with more tolerant people living next door? You can read more about it here.
I cannot make a comment on what your legal position would be, but I think it would be unwise to be obstructive.
However, there are a few points I might share with the council if they wish to come to remove the nest, and see what the response would be:
As I write in June 2018, bumble bee nests are not protected by law, as far as I am aware - though I have previously argued that some protection should be the case, for the sake of curbing unecessary removals - the nests are temporary, after all.
However, with regard to protected species in general, councils may take an especially dim view of disturbings nests of BAP species. The priority terrestrial invertebrate species list does include a number of bumble bee and solitary bee species as well as other pollinators.
However, it may be necessary to get legal opinion, especially with regard to the following points:
This is about as much feedback as I can (at this time) provide. However, I am hopeful that as awareness increases, fewer people will seek the drastic measure of removing bumble bee nests.
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