Family claims neighbor’s bees killed their dog in east Austin

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A family in east Austin is demanding their next-door neighbor get rid of her backyard beehives after they said the bees swarmed and killed their beloved dog. 

Gillis Drayton said she got a frantic phone call Sunday from another neighbor, who told Drayton she saw the bees swarm Havoc, Drayton’s Terrier sleeping in the backyard. The neighbor and Drayton’s son tried to rescue the small dog, but the injuries from all the stings were too severe to save him. 

“That dog was a part of our household for eight years,” Drayton said Thursday while wiping away tears. “We loved that dog. We got him from a puppy, and we love that dog.” 

Drayton said the bees came from the hives that her next-door neighbor maintains in the backyard.

Drayton showed KXAN a text message she said she got from her neighbor explaining what happened.

The woman wrote she’s not willing to get rid of the bees. “Just know that bees don’t attack unless provoked,” she added in the text, “and I unintentionally provoked that one hive b/c [sic] of a phase it was going thru that I’ve not experienced before. I feel horrible.” 

Drayton reported the bee attack to Austin 311. An officer from the city’s Environmental Health department went to inspect her neighbor’s two hives Wednesday, according to a Public Health spokeswoman.

The officer cited the beekeeper for several violations. The woman now has 21 days to put up what the city calls a “flywall barrier,” which is essentially a wall blocking neighbors from the bees.

She did not have the hives 25 feet from her property line either, which is mandated in the city’s code for beekeeping. 

The neighbor gets to keep her bees for now, but Drayton said she still struggles to understand why. 

“I want to feel comfortable again in my house, in my property, and in my yard,” Drayton said. “I don’t think I’m asking too much to ask that the bees be removed.”

KXAN wanted to find out how big of a problem bees are in the city. Austin 311 told us 92 people called them for help regarding bees last year, and so far this year 84 people have called.

They say the calls typically include complaints about someone raising bees without following the city’s beekeeping ordinance and worries about bees becoming a hazard on public property.

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