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New"bee" to hives, wondering true risk for neighbors


What is the real risk to neighbors, and should I have additional insurance?

I’m not sure if people are just sensationalizing the issue, but I keep hearing that, if you keep a hive in a neighborhood, you have to warn your neighbors that they may get stung if the hive swarms. Is this a real risk? Or is this because people just want to have an issue to share? Also, is there a specific insurance that one would have to take into consideration? I am in Pensacola, Florida, USA.

Thanks, and, while nervous, I am excited about learning this new world of beekeeping. The flow hive is a phenomenal invention!


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Thanks Dexter - the neighbors and swarming was one of my concerns too.


Swarms are too busy looking for new homes to go around stinging people, unless that person does something to totally aggravate the bee. A swarm is generally docile. Besides, how is anyone going to prove that a bee sting came from one of your bees, should anyone actually get stung? Only some 2-3 percent of all people have severe allergic reactions to bees, the rest of us are simply reacting normally. To put it in perspective, you have more chance of dying from a lighting strike than a bee sting.

What you will have to watch is that your bees have access to water so they don’t visit any source of water on their property like their dog’s water bowl. If your hive is in close proximity to another home, ensure that the flight path is diverted up and over any traffic areas by placing the hive entrance to face something like a tall shrub or fence.

Most random stings attributed to bees often come from other stinging insects, like wasps.


It is highly unlikely your bees will travel over to your neighbour and sting them unless they are in close proximity to the hive and are either setting of very loud noises or vibrations such as a lawnmower. However, bees are bred to be very docile and the reason we like to re-queen every couple of years. Make sure your bees are out of their view and away from dogs and children. Having a good clean water source is essential as discussed by SowthEfrikan.


Interesting question. As I was setting up my new hives, I was wondering if there were any town ordinances on beekeeping. I have a very difficult neighbor and although there is land between us, she would love an opportunity to shut me down.


I would contact your local government or council and ask. Also check your state as they may have a code of conduct or guidelines that you may need to follow. I know my neighbours are aware of my hive but I keep them out of their view just in case. You can always setup some type of screen of enclosure around your hives, the bees will fly up and over.


I’m already set up, so I’ll just ask for forgiveness, as they say, if something comes up. There are others in the neighborhood that keep bees, so I should be ok. It just crosses my mind every now and then what the ordinance is and I’m sure I’ll look into it so I can be knowledgeable.


People who don’t have bees don’t understand bees and they won’t be easily convinced by you just telling them the bees won’t be a problem for them. If you choose to tell them, have on hand a sheet with links to videos that show what a swarm does. Here is a great video on YouTube of a guy who has 4 hives in the backyard of what is clearly a suburban home with a smallish yard. The video shows a large active ball in the process of swarming. The guy taking the video is walking around in a cloud of 30k bees and they are completely ignoring him.

There are also countless videos showing bee keepers handling active hives with no gloves or veils. If a person can stick their bare hands into an active hive and not get stung the chances of a person 100 yards away getting stung are pretty low as long as they don’t threaten the bees by swatting at them and screaming.


One thing that you can do to calm the neighbors is give them honey from your hives!

Mostly the bees won’t bother them, but better to take a step toward friendship than aggravate the situation.

I keep my bees in a very small backyard, with close neighbors, and they’ve never had a problem.


I just learned that in Florida if you register with the state (which I think you have to) then you’re protected against neighbors, city, and the county telling you that you can’t have an Apiary on your property.

Obviously common sense and courtesy comes into play but someone can’t simply complain and get your Apiary removed if you have passed state inspections. The inspection fees seem very reasonable too, only $10 a year if you have less than 5 colonies.

I agree with marybee16’s idea, just give away from free honey once in a while and you’ll be fine :smile:


Found their for for non-agricultural beekeeping. They list the state requirements, seems to line up with some other things I’ve read…



I would first talk to a local beekeeper about ordinances and where to set up your hives. Every town, county, state has their own apiary rules so it is impossible for us to help unless we are in the same area.
There is a potential issue with calling your insurance company. A member in another beekeeing group called to ask her insurance provider about bee insurance and they dropped her entirely. Our bees are not tagged with little IDs. No one can claim a bee sting came from your bees. Of course it is your decision whether or not to open that can of worms.
Most people gift their neighbors with honey. It is a sweet bribe that works :slight_smile:


yes, I saw this post too Gayle and was flabbergasted that an insurance company would cancel a policy because they had a beehive in the backyard, the notion is ludicrous… and what about all the wasp nests during summer? Just as problematic. I bet they would never consider cancellation if there was a smoker or motorbike rider in the house. Call me a pessimist but there are always neighbours in your area who may be a little odd, just be careful about letting people know that you have beehives.


I agree completely.
My neighbors did not know I had bees for the first 2 years until I gifted them honey. It has been 7 years now and the rest of the neighborhood just “found” out because I semi cleared out a wild area between the hives and the road. It ends up they are thrilled! Five neighbors want to start beekeeping next Spring and 3 others want to watch and learn before they make up their minds.

But it never occured to me to inquire about insurance…Thank Heavens!!


I’m in australia, in an urban setting and our local government have guidelines published on the web. From speaking to them and a number of others close to me, their major concern is complaints. They want an easy life and trying to mediate neighbours disagreements is a major headache for them. So although swarming shouldn’t really be a problem for the neighbours it is for the local bureaucrats as it’s guaranteed to lead to calls that they have to follow up. Another issue for the council related to flight path is the bees defecating.

In our situation I require their written approval to put in a hive. I’ve applied (about 2-3 months ago) and still not had a decision. Since then a local urban beekeeper has told me it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.

The reason for the delay with my council is that I’ve asked to site it on my roof, which they’ve never come across before. So they’d rather I put it on the ground in my garden with a 2m fence around it to lift the bees up to height! Fortunately I’ve found a guy in the local agriculture department who’s happy to tell them the roof is a better solution. Just hope they are willing to put in the effort to call him.

I’m regretting applying now!


The thing to remember is that your neighbours are not beekeepers and are not used to looking at thousands of stinging insects. It’s just not worth the bother of having to placate them and be on constant guard…surely?


Hi @Dunc
I work for a local government council. Our council is keen on beekeepers and is actively working with the local beekeeping society to find places to place roof top hives on some council buildings. If it might help PM me and I’ll give you some details that your local council could read through so they can see how other councils are managing beekeeping and rooftop hives. There’s plenty of councils across Australia who support rooftop hives and beekeeping in general.


Thanks @hilltophives, I’ll message you.


HELP!!! maybe you or someone can give me some tips. my daughter lives in North florida with 2 young boys and they just had beehives set up close to her home. The bees swarm the pool especially around the ladder Hundreds of them. They have all been stung several times and it scares the boys. we try and tell them to just get in water and ignore them. They seem to all be around the ladder and in water. Its above ground swimming pool and they have to climb and are fearful because a lot are around the ladder. For the most part they don’t bother you. How should she handle this. I told her to screen it in but she feels she should not have to. Thanks for any help