CanI be sued for bees that attacked and killed my neighbor’s dog because of a hive formed on my property?

UPDATED: Sep 9, 2011

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CanI be sued for bees that attacked and killed my neighbor’s dog because of a hive formed on my property?

A bee hive formed on my property. My neighbor harassed us for over a month to remove it. We couldn’t afford the $500 extermination fee. After being harassed daily we decided to cut the part of the tree where the hive was, and placed it 200 yards away from her home. We knocked to tell her but no one was home. The bees that came home to an empty house attacked her dog that was outside. We also left our dog outside. Now I’m being sued for $2,000 in vet bills. We live on a farm area, on the foot of the mountains, where animals/insects are everywhere including bees.

Asked on September 9, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you did not move the hive closer to your neighbor's home, you probably should not be liable. Liability depends on fault--on doing something negligently (unreasonably carelessly) or intentionally wrong, something over which you have control. Bees are a natural occurence in the country, and generally are not dangerous; unless you had prior notice that *these* bees were dangerous (e.g. they'd badly stung someone), you probably were neither negligent nor acted intentionally badly in cutting down their part of the tree.

However, if you moved the cut-down part of the tree closer to the neighbor than it had been previously, that act could be taken to be a deliberate act to expose your neighbor to greater risk, and that might be enough to find liability.

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