Thursday, August 24, 2017
Bees force mum and son out of home

Bees force mum and son out of home

Lisa Coward and her son, Zain, three

A mum with a young son claims she has been told it would be dangerous to stay in her council flat – because pest control contractors are not allowed to kill honey bees.

Lisa Coward has a bathroom, kitchen and bedroom infested with the insects, which have nested in her ceiling in Papworth Way, Tulse Hill.

But the honey bees are a protected species – and no one is allowed to kill them. Anyone who does can face a fine of up to £2,000.

Only a qualified bee keeper can remove them, with special vacuuming equipment which does not kill them – and qualified bee keepers are not insured to work above floor level.

Removing them will need a member of the British Bee Keepers’ Association, which could cost £140 minimum.

But, in addition, the bee keeper working on a ceiling would have to be accompanied by a roofer, at extra cost.

Lisa, formerly an administrator at a doctors’ surgery in Brixton Hill, says she has been told by bee experts that she must not try to remove them without professional help – and that they can be a danger to her and her three-year-old son, Zain, if they are not moved.

BBKA member Phil Clarkson, of Brockley Bees, said: “Honey bees are not normally aggressive but some colonies can be. You have to check.

“And they do not move – instead, they just keep building. If you do not get rid of everything properly, you can leave bits of honey or honeycomb and that just leads to a rodent infestation because they come in to eat what’s left.

“Ceilings normally involve a day’s work minimum, which is likely to be at least £140.”

Lisa and her son have stayed with her parents for several nights in Sidcup – but they cannot do so any longer.

“I am afraid for my son if he gets stung – there are a lot of them,” she said. “I have been to the council offices at Olive Morris House and was eventually told to apply for temporary accommodation.

“But it is taking so long. I moved here in February. “Pest control people have advised me very strongly I need to be moved. But by law, they cannot deal with it themselves. They said it is dangerous for us.”

A spokesman for Lambeth council said: “Honey bees are protected and must be removed by a specialist, rather than dealt with by a pest controller.

“Details of specialist bee keepers in the area have been provided and we are assisting in having these bees removed. “The presence of honey bees in this situation does not require the property to be evacuated.”

Chief Reporter | Former news reporter on Daily Mail and Times, former editor in Edinburgh and Barnet. Sports editor and father for 15 years. Once made nine doormats for Harrods entrances. They lasted two years.


  1. Bees are not a protected species and can be removed by a beekeeper – if a BBKA member, insurance cover is provided.

  2. Honey bees are not protected and can be treated with insecticide, provided the label instructions are followed. Our Members carry out such treatments regularly when the bees can not otherwise be easily removed. We are the National Pest Technicians Association, with over 1,000 Members throughout the UK and Ireland.

  3. Bbka only charge expenses for call outs. Honey bees are not protected by law.
    Anyone working above ground level needs scaffolding by law and liability insurance.
    If she plugs up any holes inside the house the bees won’t come in.
    This article is poorly written and riddled with inaccuracies.

  4. It is not illegal to kill bees. Sometimes it may be necessary.
    It is not essential to have a bee vac to remove a colony from void, but it may be more efficient under certain circumstances.
    It is not necessary to have a BBKA member remove them, either, as long as the person knows what they are doing.
    Swarm collectors are not insured to work about the level of a step ladder – close to the ground – to remove a swarm. But this is not a swarm, but an established colony inside a void of a house. It therefore will require some demolition to access it, either by removing exterior parts of the building or interior plaster/plasterboard. Very few beekeepers would do this kind of work, as it is highly specialist and requires proper skills and insurance. I am often approached as a swarm collector, but I am not able to deal with such circumstances.
    I imagine the council has determined bees should not be killed by their pest control agencies except in certain circumstances, but this is often believed to be a blanket ban.
    Even if the bees are killed, it would leave behind the colony’s wax and honey, which might cause further nuisance. And unless the point of access is blocked, leaving these behind would only attract another swarm in the future.

  5. Just to reiterate what everyone else has said – It is not illegal to destroy bees. Can you please clarify which legislation states it is illegal?


Bees force mum and son out of home