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Advice about Beekeeping

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Neighbor's bees are flying into my home

Sept 2007

I rent an apartment in north Oakland and live next door to beekeepers. My problem is that I don't have screens on the windows and at night when they are open and the lights are on, bees fly into my home. This is very annoying because it impedes my full enjoyment of living in my apartment. My landlord is unwilling to install screens and suggested contacting the state vector control. Even if my neighbors are in violation of the law, I don't feel comfortable reporting them, yet I am also resentful of the inconvenience that they are causing me. I would like to know how to handle this and would be grateful for any feedback provided. Anonymous

Do you feel you can approach the neighbors with the problem? Perhaps asking the beekeepers to install screens could solve the problem. Let them know they are coming in your house and you want to be supportive (of their business), but the bees are a hardship for you. There are removable screens that you can use when the window is open - I'm sure you can find them at Home Depot. Maybe not the most attractive things, but will keep them out and you can relax. Good luck. Jnana
As a new beekeeper in Richmond I am acutely aware of the sensitivity issues around bees. I think if someone had an issue with my bees I would want them to come and talk to me and engage me in finding a solution. Perhaps they would be willing to share the cost of screens with you or your landlord (can't believe you landlord won't give you screens!) or some other alternative? As is, there is the issue of allergies to bee stings, but there is also the huge and devastating issue that bees are disappearing and we are losing our pollinators. I started bees this year because, for the first time, I saw there were no bees pollinating my veggie garden and I wanted to help the wider issue. So, I feel like I am doing a community service in a way by having my bees, taking on the strenuous work, large expense, and the bodily risks ( I haven't had my first harvest yet). I would bet your neighbors might feel the same and would be willing to work this out. You might also get some delicious honey out of the bargain. Good luck Jenn
While your landlord is being cheap about not installing screens, for just $5-10 each, you can buy perfectly effective adjustable screens yourself. I use them all over my house. You just open the window, put these in the opening, and voila. You can buy them at places like Orchard Hardware and Home Depot, or online:

Maybe if you explain the problem to your beekeeping neighbors, they will pony up for the screens, or at least give you some nice jars of honey, and everyone goes away happy. Becky

I appreciate your searching for a solution that protects you while also proteting the bees and your neighborliness. Most hardware stores have inexpensive adjustable window screens that you fit into the open window. You can also make screens that would work to keep out bees from inexpensive net fabric, perhaps held in place with adhesive velcro attached to the window frame. You can find the net & velcro at any sewing store. Best wishes. Ann
I don't have any legal expertise to offer, but I would suggest talking to your beekeeping neighbors about the issue prior to calling vector control. Perhaps your neighbors would be willing to purchase screens for your windows or split the cost with you. I don't think that garden variety bees are considered vectors. Mark
Well...since you don't want to go to vector control, and I applaud you for that, I would approach the neighbors,tell them your landperson won't spring for the screens and ask if they are willing to...or at least contribute something $$. If they won't, then I would go to someplace like Home Depot, purchase some of the rolled up screen (it's fairly cheap) cut off what you need for each window and tape, tack it, may not be pretty, but it will serve the purpose. Also,Home Depot actually makes small screens that expand to the size of your window. I have 2 of them and they work quite well. They cause about 10 dollars each. D
I think the focus should be on getting your landlord to install screens....either that or you may have to go to the expense of doing it yourself.

An old boyfriend used to keep bees in Berkeley a long time ago. It is perfectly legal and actually a good thing to keep bees as it helps pollination, produces honey, keeps them in reasonable ''housing'' so they don't build hives in the eaves of our homes, etc. (fascinating critters, really!)

I agree it's very annoying to have honey bees flying into your home. You might talk to your neighbor and see if he/she has a suggestion or if this has been an issue ever before. Honey bees fly out of their hives in a particular pattern so if they were coming in during the day it MIGHT be possible for him to turn the hive in a different direction...however, you said they are coming in at night. Bees don't tend to fly at night. They stay close to home and are more docile. They are likely drawn to the light (since they fly when it's warmer and light) in the window.

I'd go for getting screens at any cost. Good luck. fan of honey bees

Maybe you should just buy a couple of the insert screens that go into the window temporarily while it's open (URL to sample product below). They are inexpensive and available at most big stores like Longs or Walgreens and you can take them with you if you ever move. You might also want to check with the beekeeper next door about what he/she would suggest to keep bees out of your living space. -Allergic to bee stings
Adjustable screens can be purchased at Home Depot. They are inexpensive and will keep the bees out. That's the route I would go as I think it will avoid conflict and provide the quickest result. A in Alameda
How about go buy your own screens? I realize this may cost you all of fifty dollars, but it'll solve the problem.
Hi. You have a couple of options, actually. 1), You can talk to your bee-keeping neighbors and explain your situation and emphasize that you don't want to wake up the bees, sort-to- speak, by reporting them as your landlord had suggested, and see if you all can come up to some kind of compromise. Who knows, they may have some screens for your windows?!! You won't know, if you don't ask.

2) It's really your landlord's responsibility to make sure you live in a habitable and comfortable unit. If he chooses not to cooperate, you can take him to the Renter's Board in your area, and take it from there.

3) You can always purchase some screens for your windows. Something is bound to work. Speak up and see how your neighbors can help you. Good luck!! Bee Lover

You sound like such a respectful person. That is kind of you to respect your neighbors. I had an apartment with no screens and I found these adjustable screens at Home Depot. You just slide them open to mount them in the window. They aren't permanent so your landlord cannot object and they are pretty cheap ~$10. Here is a link so you can see what I am talking about: Try OSH or Home Depot. Hoping you will be Bee-Free!
Get a quote from screen mobile (see yellow pages) and/or a couple of other broadly accepted screen vendors or installers. Photocopy the quote(s). Speak (before you write a note) with your neighbor and tell them simply and calmly of your concern. Propose a solution (they re-imburse you for the screen and installation). Hopefully that discussion will go well. Try to keep it non-confrontational. You could bring it to a neighborhood - city-sponsored mediator. Try to keep it civil. Anon
Have you considered asking the beekeepers to pay for the screens? Seems friendlier than reporting them to vector control. We have those adjustable slider screens from the hardware store. They're not insect tight, but they would probably keep out curious bees. Good luck! anon
I was immediately drawn to your email because my father is a beekeeper and I've worked with him for many years. I understand how disconcerting it is to have bees flying into your home (although it seems very strange that they would do that unless the beehive is EXTREMELY close to your window). Also, it is completely impossible for bees to fly at night because they can not see - they can only crawl. I know this because beekeepers move bee hives only at night because they can not fly then, only crawl. This is an indisputable fact of nature. Based on your post, here are two suggestions:

1) get the screens installed because if there are bees getting in, it is more than likely that numerous other pesky bugs are getting in too - your landlord should probably have screens on there anyway

2) you might want to consider the possibility (again, I don't know how close the hive is to your window or the exact living situation there) that you have an unrelated nest around the eves or windows of your own house (this may or may not be actual bees - it is extremely common for people to think wasps are bees. I just recently had an argument with my husband about the critters in our backyard, which look much like honey bees, but are actually wasps) - this would explain why they are getting inside

3) naturally, I feel some sympathy for your beekeeper neighbours and I'd tend to say not to report them, but what you definately should do is talk to them about the problem. If the hive is too close to the windows of the apartment it is their duty to move the hive so as not to burden other people with rogue bees. Other people in your apartment may be having the same problem. If they are polite and understanding about it, I don't think you should report them. At least give them the chance to solve the problem. Also, once you have screens, it shouldn't matter at all.

You should really look into the possibility that these are not your neighbour's rogue bees. This is another reason for not reporting them - they may be doing no harm at all! If bees really are flying in at night when it is dark outside, they are coming from somewhere much too close to your window to be your neighbour's bees. It is more than likely that there is actually a nest around your window and they are coming from there. In which case they may or may not be honey bees. Good luck! Lisa

You can get adjustable window screens at most hardware stores-I found them at Bolfings Elmwood on College Ave. The screen material is set into a wooden ''slider'' frame that expands to fit the window width, and comes in several heights. The weight of the window sash resting on the top of the wooden frame holds them in place. They are not expensive and easy to take in and out as the seasons change, and you can take them with you to your next home! Sandra
Unless you have casement windows, it's pretty easy to pick up an expand-to-fit window screen at a hardware store. Heidi
I bought screens when I had bug problems to my apartment. According to the law, the tenant is responsible for screens, not the landlord. I could have not bought them and continued to be unhappy but they provided the safety and peace I was looking for. Marie
while i truly believe that your landlord should provide you with window screens, i would ask the beekeepers to buy and install screens for your windows. i'm sure they'll comply if you explain that you are asking in lieu of reporting them to vector control.
I can imagine having bees flying around your living room is a distraction, to say the least. However, I also thinks it's really cool that your neighbors are keeping bees. There are window screens that are removable, as in they just rest in the window when it's open, and are removed when the window is closed. They are framed w/ metal or wood. I don't where you can get them, but I have seen them. That would be way less expensive than having custom screens built. Heck, you could easily make screens yourself by making properly sized wood frames and tacking mesh to it. I do hope you don't end up calling vector control. Bees are good! Anon
It seems to me that your landlord is not being responsible in not putting screens into your windows. You could start with the Oakland Rent Board If they cannot help you they can probably refer you to how to get help with getting screens. Good luck with getting screens for your windows. Also, I wanted to let you know that bees are not vectors, and in fact, bee populations are declining around the U.S. (and probably the world) and this is cause for worry about the stability of some plant populations and specific plant species (since bees are pollinators). So I say: Hurray for the beekeepers! anon
Hello- First, I would suggest you get the East Bay Express (maybe online?) article that came out this summer about backyard beekeeping... for the most part it is not only legal, but a valuable service for the general community (and their plants). Chances are, they are within their rights. And if they're not-- vector control is for vectors (those insects that carry disease), which would not include bees.

So-- here is the least problematic solution to your problem, MAKE some screens for your windows. My husband just did this for our house since our windows stopped being maufactured in the 50's. It cost about $30 for the screen material and the rim stuff from the hardware store, and he built 2 in about 25 minutes. He's somewhat handy, but not a contractor or anything-- I think he needed a jigsaw or something like that to cut the rim material. And, you'd learn a valuable skill that might come in handy when you are a homeowner yourself.

You could ask your landlord to pay for the materials-- but either way it's not a big investment, and would make you happy. WAY happier than arguing with your landlords and or neighbors about a situation that is not likely to change anytime soon. You can do it! Good luck anon

Home Depot has screens you can buy that are very cheap and they are made to adjust to any window. We have used them in rentals that didn't come with screens.
Good for you for not wanting to report your neighbors- the honeybee population worldwide is in steep decline, and scientists have yet to figure out why that is. Because Honeybees are critically important pollinators for much agriculture as well as for home gardens and ornamental plants, it's very important that all of us do everything possible to keep the bees that are left alive.

But are you positive that it's your neighbor's bees that are coming inside your apartment at night? That is actually extremely unlikely since Honeybees are diurinal insects and are active only during the daylight hours- they return to their hive at dusk and don't go out again until dawn. They innately know the difference between natural and artificial light, and also are attracted only to flowering plants (their only food source), not to human food or anything to be found in a human being's apartment!

There are some species of bees that are nocturnal, but not Honeybees, and HBs are the only kind that beekeepers are interested in. It's also possible that what you're thinking are your neighbor's bees are actually yellow jackets, which are wasps but many people mistakenly call them bees, or some other kind of wasp.

Yellow Jackets are officially diurnal, but they stay active later into the evening than do Honey Bees, are attracted to artificial light, and are attracted to human food (every barbecuer knows that!). Take a good look at your invaders- wasps are distinguished from bees by their ''wasp waist'', which is a an effect of their two body segments being tightly and narrowly connected to each other.

Links to pics: Honeybee- Yellow Jacket-

Have you spoken to your neighbors?

Whatever flying insect is bothering you, you can buy inexpensive little screens at larger hardware stores that fit right into your open window. Cece

The bees likely constitutes a public nuissance, as they likely impeed the ''comfortable enjoyment of life or property'' to a ''considerable number of persons'' in your neighborhood. Your neighbor's landlord is legally responsible for any public nuissance by his or tenant(s). The Oakland City Attorney is responsible for determining if the activity is a public nuisance, and will communicate with your neighbor's landlord as necessary. The City Administrator Nuisance Abatament office ph no is 238-7542. Also, tell them to buzz off!
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