Why do some Sydney councils encourage urban beekeeping but avoid handling complaints?

Sydney has seen an explosion in urban beekeeping with a 20 per cent increase in the number of people taking up the hobby in just a couple of years.

That’s great for the environment, with bees our most valuable pollinators for agricultural crops and even urban backyards.

But what if you have an allergy or reaction to bee stings, or a backyard pool where bees like to get their water and you need to make a complaint?

Tony Deguara lives in Sydney’s inner west with a backyard bee enthusiast neighbour over his back fence.

Tony told Curious Sydney his neighbour started out with two beehives, but the number increased to six meaning he was living next to thousands of bees as a result.

He asked: “Why do Sydney councils encourage urban bee keeping but appear to have no regulations to manage the hobby? Consequently if you have problems you have to go to the Department of Primary Industries [DPI]”.

That was the question ABC News in Sydney was asked to investigate through Curious Sydney, our series that reports on stories based on your questions.

Urban beekeeping in Sydney has grown rapidly over the last couple of years.

“I started having major problems with my neighbour — not because he was keeping bees but because he was keeping what I thought was an inordinately high number of bees,” Mr Deguara said.

“I made an enquiry with the local council to find out but they really didn’t want to know anything about it. They didn’t have any guidelines or regulations in place. They didn’t prosecute and they didn’t set up any situation where you could discuss this with your neighbour.”

Tony has a bad allergic reaction to bees. While not anaphylactic, they leave him with infections and swellings that last for weeks.

After the last sting, an infection in his foot required antibiotics.

When he asked his neighbour to reduce the number of beehives, initially his neighbour complied, but over time the number of hives crept up again.

Tony sought advice from his local Inner West Council to help him manage the issue, but the council redirected him to the DPI.

Curious Sydney found that the answer to Tony’s question is complex. Councils can manage bees if they choose to classify them under the companion animal act like pet dogs and cats, but each council has different rules.

Originally Published by ABC News, continue reading here.

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