Siting of Hives
- Hives will only be allowed on individual plots that are sited a suitable distance from any public road or path, or jointly used road or path within the allotment site and have been inspected and approved by an experienced beekeeper. Where hives are not allowed on the plot the Council will consider allocating a designated apiary area.
- The site should be inspected and approved by an experienced beekeeper.
- In line with British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) guidance, hives are NOT permitted if an allotment site is adjacent to a school or livestock holdings.
- In line with BBKA guidance, the hive(s) on individual plots should be so sited that only the beekeeper can approach it or them. Bees operate on instinct, individual and shared. Hives should only be approached by a trained beekeeper.
- The plot where the hives are to be situated must have simple screening, such as is used for windbreaks of fine mesh netting, dust screening, willow, hazel or maintained hedges of a minimum 2.0 metres height to encourage the bees to fly high over neighbouring plots.
- The number of hives on the site in total will be monitored and restricted to prevent over population of any one site.
- The Council should be informed if the beekeeper increases the number of hives either in advance or as soon as is practical. The total may not exceed three per plot.
- If the number of hives increases due to ‘splitting’ in order to control swarming, this should be a temporary arrangement if it exceeds the permitted maximum, with the number of hives reduced to the permitted maximum at the latest by the end of summer.
- When opening up a hive for a health inspection or collection of honey, a notice advising there are open hives must be clearly visible for all allotment users.
The first stage prior to approval is essential to identify a suitable location which should ideally be with an open aspect and with the entrance facing South East and shelter from North Easterly wind.
Allotment tenants applying to keep honey bees should notify neighbouring tenants of their request to keep honey bees on their plot both verbally and by a prominently displayed notice on their plot. Such notices should be displayed for a minimum period of 28 days between April and September and 56 days between November and March, indicating that a request to keep bees has been submitted to Gravesham Borough Council. Failure to do either of these will result in the Council automatically declining your application.
On receipt of the application and following the consultation period, the Cemeteries & Allotments Manager will decide whether the allotment tenant will be granted permission to keep bees. The Council’s decision is final.
The beekeeper owes a duty of care to:
- The public in the vicinity of the hives
- Other allotment gardeners working nearby
- Intruders (even though it is clear that their intention was to disturb the colony)
The beekeeper must display a sign on their designated apiary area, stating honey bees are located there.
The Council should ensure that members of the public registering for or joining an allotment with hives are notified at the earliest opportunity.
The beekeeper must provide the Council with details (name, address, telephone number including a mobile telephone number) of adequate stand-by arrangements to deal with emergencies such as swarming during any absence or unavailability of the beekeeper. These details should be clearly displayed on the plot boundary.
On no account should any person other than an experienced beekeeper try to take a swarm, whether the swarmed bees are placid or not.
Hives will be inspected annually by an experienced beekeeper as part of the plot inspections.
Gravesham Borough Council will investigate any complaints and in particular those with health and nuisance elements and in consequence may subsequently withdraw the permission via issue of a notice for the immediate removal of the hives.
The beekeeper is required to hold a current insurance policy which provides specifically for beekeeping risks and includes Public Liability Insurance cover for a minimum of five million pounds (£5,000,000). Proof of adequate insurance cover at renewal will be required each year.
We require potential beekeepers to become members of the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) which may include such insurance cover.
The beekeeper must annually provide the Council with copies of the renewed insurance certificate or if a member of the BBKA, proof of their current membership and evidence that this includes the required level of insurance cover.
The beekeeper must have completed the Basic Beekeeping Course and gained the Basic Certificate. A copy of this must be provided with your application.
Sale of Honey
The beekeeper will not display notices that honey is available for sale on the allotment site or plot.
Withdrawal of Consent
Gravesham Borough Council may withdraw the permission at any time by giving notice to remove hives immediately if:
- The permit holder contravenes any of the above conditions.
- The permit holder contravenes any conditions within the Allotment Tenancy Agreement.
- Substantiated information is received that requires a review of the arrangements.
- A new allotment tenant takes a nearby plot then provides medical evidence that they are allergic to honey bee stings. However, we would expect any new tenant to be made aware of the hives before they accept the tenancy of a plot and if necessary, an alternative plot offered on an alternative site that does not have beekeeping.
- Any costs resulting from withdrawal of consent shall be borne by the tenant.
- If an allotment tenant no longer keeps their tenancy of an allotment plot, then he or she will no longer be permitted to keep bees anywhere on the allotment site and will be required to remove the hives before the tenancy of the plot terminates.