Grandad swarmed by 300 bees says neighbours 'used them as weapons'

A retired farmer says a constant flurry of bees from next door has stopped him from being able to use his garden.

Steve Chandler, 71, and his wife Ann, also 71, say they have been forced to run back inside and have been stung multiple times.

They have lived in the Kent village of Sissinghurst for the last 36 years but are now at their wit’s end due to a row with their neighbours.

Dee Heyward-Ponte, 47, and her husband Christian, 48, have lived next door for five years and are members of the British Beekeeping Association.

Steve, who worked on a hop and food farm next to Sissinghurst castle for four decades before retiring, says his neighbours are ‘unpleasant’ and ‘not very nice people’, meaning he feels he cannot speak to them about the issue.

He says he’s tried to take it up with the council and the Environment Agency but that no one was interested in his plight.

The grandad-of-three added: ‘People who use bees as weapons so you can’t use your garden, I think is a bit out of order.

‘I worked for 40 years on a farm, 60 to 70 hours a week, to buy a house and to make a home, now I can’t use it.’

Steve says he was recently out with his daughter doing some gardening on May 27 when she was surrounded by bees and got stung.

He added: ‘This is not my life, not one I’ve worked for. I can’t use my back garden during the day – I can use half of it.

‘We had about 300 bees all over us, there were all in our hair, we had to come indoors, we couldn’t stay out there.

‘The bees have been put there deliberately so we can’t use our garden, those bees don’t need to be there. This is unnecessary harassment as far as I’m concerned.’

Steve says whenever he wants to cut his grass, he has to wait until late at night when the bees are gone.

He added: ‘I can’t go out and do it now because they’ll sting you to death. My rights have been taken away from me and why should it be.

‘I’ve got a 15-month-old grandson and I’ve got my daughter’s two children who are 18 and 14 and they’re both autistic, so if the bees flew around them they’d go ballistic, they have to stay indoors.’

Dee and Christian said they have spent the last two years rescuing bees and had five colonies in their garden as of May 27.

They used to have two small hives but were forced to rescue more colonies when swarm season came around.

Within a week the couple had a total of five and say they intended to move them to different local farms where bees are kept.

Dee said: ‘It was all a little bit out of our hands because people were needing bees to be rescued and that’s what we do.

‘We had bees last year in our garden and one of our colonies did swarm into their garden and they were perfectly fine about it.

‘We went straight round there, we hoovered them up, moved them over, nobody got stung, we gave them a jar of our honey. It was all very amicable.’

But she says last Saturday Steve ‘crawled over the fence’ to speak to them and was ‘very frantic and very angry’.

Dee added: ‘Bear in mind we’re in the garden where all the colonies are and none of us have been stung.

‘I’m not saying he wasn’t stung, it’s quite possible he was stung, but they haven’t swarmed any garden at all because we watch them everyday.

‘The point is he never said a single thing to us until Saturday morning and he was all frantic and angry.

‘We said to him we were really sorry and we explained to him what had happened and that we were planning to move them that weekend.

‘We said to him, look if we knew it was a problem for you, we would have moved them ages ago.’

On May 30, Dee and Christian moved most of the bees to local farms. They said they now have one remaining hive that was going to be moved on yesterday, but they had to delay due to rain.

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