Beekeeping in residential areas: preventing nuisance bees

Beehives in residential backyards must be managed to ensure bees don't become a nuisance to neighbours.

Local and state laws for beekeeping in Queensland

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, you must be registered to keep bees. You must also mark your hives with a hive identification number (HIN).

Find out about hive registration and hive marking.

Check with your local government to find local laws that apply to beekeeping in your area. This may include the number of hives that can be kept on a residential property. There are no state laws applying to the number of hives you can place in your backyard.

Join a beekeeping club

Learn more about beekeeping by joining a local beekeeping club. It will make you a more productive beekeeper and help you better manage bees within urban areas.

Talk to your neighbours

Before placing hives in your backyard, let your neighbours know you will be keeping bees. Explain how you plan to manage your hives to avoid bees becoming a nuisance.

Manage swarms

Bees may swarm in spring to early summer, and may create a nuisance for your neighbours. If your bees do swarm, it is your responsibility to capture the swarm as soon as possible after it forms a cluster.

Find out more about maintaining and managing bee colonies.

Provide your bees with water

Ensure water is available before placing bees in your backyard. Position hives in a sunny place with access to capillary moisture, e.g. wet sand or gravel, the edge of a concrete pond or floating water plants. Bees will be less likely to visit neighbouring backyards or swimming pools looking for moisture.

Use a smoker to assist with handling bees

Smoke can be used to subdue bees, but check fire regulations before using a smoker in residential areas. Noisy machines such as whipper snippers and mowers can upset bees and make them aggressive. It is a good idea to smoke the entrance to the hive before using these devices, or if you know that your neighbour plans to use them.

Provide barriers

Place hive entrances so bees fly across your property rather than directly into a neighbouring property. If this is not possible, provide a barrier to encourage the bees to fly up and over so that they don't bother neighbours. Barriers can be hedges or shrubs, or shade cloth fixed to a trellis.

Bees are attracted to lights, particularly fluorescent types. Use physical barriers between hive entrances and lights on neighbouring properties.

Robbing and working hives

Avoid working bees when conditions are poor (such as cool or rainy weather) and there is little pollen and nectar available to foraging bees. This places the colony under stress, encourages robbing, and makes bees more aggressive.

Cooperate with neighbours when you need to work the bees. Recommend that they stay inside while you work the bees or work out a mutually convenient time which won't disturb them.