Home Kent News Granddad’s fury at neighbours ‘who use bees as weapons’ in garden feud

Granddad’s fury at neighbours ‘who use bees as weapons’ in garden feud

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Original article from Kent Live

A granddad-of-three from Sissinghurst has spoken of his outrage at his beekeeping neighbours.

Steve Chandler, 71, a retired farmer, has lived with his wife Ann, also 71, at Cleavers for the last 36 years.

However, Steve says he is now at his wit's end with his family constantly having to run indoors to avoid being stung.

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

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

According to Steve, last Thursday (May 27), around 300 bees surrounded him and his daughter while they were planting pots in the garden one afternoon.

'I worked for forty years to buy a home that I can't use'

Steve worked on a hop and food farm next to Sissinghurst castle for four decades before retiring.

While he says there were bees at the farm too, he is distraught at the current issue with his neighbours.

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.

Steve Chandler, 71, and Ann Chandler, 71, have had enough of bees swarming their garden in Sissinghurst

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

"I worked for forty years on a farm, 60 to 70 hours a week, to buy a house and to make a home, now I can't use it."

'My grandchildren can't play out in the garden'

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

He explained: "My daughter and I were out in the garden (May 27) to do some pots, she got stung and we were surrounded by bees.

"This is not my life, not one I've worked for."

The neighbouring bees have caused Steve and Ann Chandler to run in and out of doors to avoid being stung

"I can't use my back garden during the day – I can use half of it.

"I got stung yesterday but fortunately I had a blue shirt on and it only just penetrated my skin, but my daughter got quite badly stung.

"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.

Several bee hives line the fence that faces Steve Chandler's garden

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.

"You can't speak to the neighbours, they are so unpleasant, they're not very nice people.

"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.

"I've got to cut my grass, I've got a motor mower, I can't go out now and cut my grass, I've got to wait now until late tonight, when the bees are gone.

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What are you waiting for?!

"I can't go out and do it now because they'll sting you to death. My rights have been taken away from me and why should it be.

"I've got a 15-month-old grandson and I've got my daughters two children who are 18 and 14 and they're both autistic, so if the bees flew around them they'd go ballistic, they have to stay indoors."

'It kind of happened a little bit out of control'

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 Heyward-Ponte, 47, and her partner Christian Heyward-Ponte, 48, have been members of the British Beekeeping Association for 2 years

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.

It was all a little bit out of our hands because people were needing bees to be rescued and that's what we do.

"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 had bees last year in our garden and one of our colonies did swarm into their garden and they were perfectly fine about it.

"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.

'We said to him we were really sorry'

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.

Original Article