THE term Beehive Bedlam took on a whole new meaning for one Ballinamallard mum this week.
Sharon Wallace was stung by a bill for a cherry-picker, drafted in to allow a local beekeeper access to the roof of her Housing Executive home, where a swarm of bees had made a nest for themselves in her chimney.
Speaking to The Impartial Reporter she says the Housing Executive had left her without any help after she reported her new lodgers to the public housing authority.
“It has been horrendous,” she said, “Seven days of hell. I had to send my son Jake to live with his grandparents for the week because he is allergic.
“I could hear the swarm up the chimney a week ago on Monday before I went to work but I didn’t pass any remarks.
“When I came on Monday evening the living room was swarming with what I thought was wasps.
“I reported it to the Housing Executive there and then.”
Pest control attended the property on Tuesday last week and identified the swarm as honey bees.
“They said then they wouldn’t touch them because they were protected,” Sharon explained, “It was down to me to get them out of the chimney.
“I was dumbfounded, I couldn’t believe it.”
The mother contacted DUP councillor Raymond Farrell who also got in touch with the Housing Executive.
“He was sent a reply saying it was my responsibility to get rid of the bees and only when the bees were gone, if it was reported by me that there were any maintenance issues, the Housing Executive would then deem whether it was their fault that the bees had accessed the property.”
In the heat of the last week, Sharon had to keep her windows closed and tape up her fireplace in an attempt to prevent the bees from coming into her house.
Luckily, she knew a local beekeeper.
“He said apparently there could have been up to 30,000 bees in this swarm,” she said, “And they could take up to two years to go away!
“When pest control had come out they had said the bees would gone away in their own time.”
The beekeeper had brought a box with him in the hope that he could coax the bees out of their new home in Sharon’s chimney.
She drafted in another man with a cherry-picker on Monday this week to allow the beekeeper access to the roof of the property.
“The whole park was out to see what was going on,” she said, “It is most excitement our park has seen in years.
Despite many attempts, the majority of the swarm could not be safely coaxed out of their hive.
Sharon says she has been left “speechless” by the Housing Executive’s approach.
“They were just quite willing to let me float. As a landlord surely they have a duty of care to their tenants.”
The nest is still in the chimney.
“These bees would have made honey - and I’m told that brings with it it’s own list of problems - the possibility of it seeping into the walls.
A spokesperson for the Housing Executive told The Impartial Reporter that because bees are a protected species, they were unable to intervene.
“The Housing Executive was contacted by the tenant on June 26 after she had been in contact with Pest Control. Our understanding is that the tenant was advised by Pest Control that honey bees were present in the chimney and these are a protected species. We were contacted the following day by a representative for the tenant and we explained that we would be unable to intervene until the bees had left the property.
“We will be calling with the tenant later today to see if there are any maintenance issues which need to be addressed.
“Our advice in such situations would have been to contact Pest Control.”