Busy bees making a big mess

DANIELLE STREET
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012
Gerry Dillen
JASON OXENHAM / Fairfax NZ

BUZZED OFF: Gerry Dillen and his wife discovered about 50 hives across from their home.

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Beekeepers are working to remove a large cluster of hives from an Onehunga paddock after complaints from neighbours about the number of bees, and the mess they created.

Queenstown Rd resident Gerry Dillen and his wife discovered about 50 hives in a field across the road from their home while walking their dog about six weeks ago.

They soon realised the bees were the source of sticky yellow spots that had been appearing on their windows, cars and washing.

"It affects our quality of life. I don't want to have to keep washing the car to get bee excrement off it," Dillen said.

He is also allergic to bees and is concerned he or another vulnerable person will get stung.

He said a neighbour was distraught when bees swarmed on her property. The swarm had to be removed professionally.

There were also reports of a swarm causing the closure of the garden section of a hardware store on Sunday.

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said he cannot open his windows during warm days because of the number of bees flying around.

His property backs on to the field which houses the hives.

Dillen complained to the Auckland Council in October, saying bylaws allow only one beehive to be kept on an urban property unless the consent of an officer has been arranged.

The bylaw also says hives are not to be sited in a way that will cause a nuisance to any person.

Beekeepers Sara and Dallas Russ, who own the hives, said they were not aware of disgruntled residents until Sara went to introduce herself earlier this month.

"I went around to a few of the neighbours to give them some honey and explain that it was swarming season, and not to be alarmed if they saw swarms," she said.

"That's when I realised people were unhappy."
 
Russ and her husband rent the field from KiwiRail.

"We are always looking for places to put hives and KiwiRail put their hands up and let us lease the land.

"We thought that would be a good spot because it had coverage from the trees. We didn't think it would cause a problem."

When they realised the dilemma they swiftly removed about 20 of the hives in an act of good faith.
 
The Russes aim to keep 10 to 15 hives in areas around the city, and are looking for places that are not too exposed or close to homes.

An Auckland Council spokesman said it was aware of the issue and was working on decreasing the number of beehives on the plot.

"Council officers have been working with the beekeeper to reduce the number of hives down to the permitted one. Hive numbers have, as a result, been cut by more than half the original number."
 
All of the hives should be removed by November 30.

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