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.”