If your neighbor starts a beehive, then you may be concerned about how it affects you. Beekeeping is now allowed in many urban backyards, so you are more likely to have a neighbor who enjoys the hobby. However, if you are stung or have a fear of bees, can you sue your neighbor for personal injury damages? Can you force him or her to get rid of the hives? The answer is complicated. Here are some of the more common legal issues surrounding bees and whether you might have a successful lawsuit.
Is the Hive Legal?
Urban beekeeping is legal in more places than ever before. Most jurisdictions have minimum property size restrictions and setbacks for hive placement. Usually, the law requires larger than average backyards with lots of space between the properties. You may be able to force your neighbor to remove their hive if it is not allowed where you live.
Is the Hive Legally Located?
Most beekeeping laws mention that a hive cannot be placed close to dwellings or other structures. Your neighbors are not allowed to put in a hive just anywhere on their property. If your neighbors built the hive close to your home, then you may be able to initiate legal action to get them to move it.
Are the Bees Aggressive?
If your neighbor neglects his or her hives, then that could encourage Africanized honeybees to move in. The result is that you will have more aggressive bees in your yard. Good beekeepers check on their hives and manage their queens to reduce the chance of these aggressive bees moving in. You may be able to take legal action to get the hive removed if you can prove that it is a hazard due to its neglect.
Have You Been Stung?
In addition to proving that the hive is illegal, if you have been stung, then you could have the basis for a lawsuit. You have to prove that your neighbor's bees are the culprits. Proving that is extremely hard because honeybees exist in the wild. There's no way to tell the difference between them and a domestic bee. Even if you saw the bee that stung you come from your neighbor's hive, you still need to have proof.
A good neighbor should have talked to you about their plans for a beehive before building one. Unfortunately, not all neighbors are considerate. Unless you have actual damages, it may be very difficult to prove that your neighbor's bees are causing you a problem. If you think that you can prove that your neighbor's bees have injured you then you may have a personal injury case. Reach out to law professionals like James Lee Katz for more information.