Postbox closed for months due to risk posed by bees

The postbox in Hill View Lane, Billington
The postbox in Hill View Lane, Billington

A postbox in Billington has been taped up since August and villagers have a bee in their bonnet about the ongoing saga.

The Hill View Lane box has been covered in black and yellow tape for months with a sign informing locals that it is out of service and an engineer has been asked to attend.

And the LBO has this week been able to confirm with Royal Mail that the rumour doing the rounds, that the cause of the kerfuffle is a large hive of bees in a nearby tree, is correct.

One resident told the LBO he returned home from holiday in August to discover the postbox seaked off, and said he was bewildered as to why it remains out of use months later.

The villager said: “The tree is about 8ft away from it. There is a hive of wild bees in it and the rumour is a postman was stung or maybe a member of the public.

“There is another postbox in Little Billington or one on the south aside of the hill, but that’s a half mile walk, and the one that’s been sealed is centrally located, and is the principle postbox where most of the population is. Quite a few people don’t actually drive and wouldn’t be able to walk that far.”

Cllr Helen Thompson, chairman of the parish council, said she had contacted Royal Mail but not had a response on the matter.

She said: “I walk past that box most days. I’ve not heard of anyone in the village being stung, so perhaps it was the postman. Why put up a message about an engineer? I’m sure we have beekeepers in the village who could deal with it, but have Central Beds Council even been informed?

“It’s pretty bad that it’s still out of action, it’s the only postbox this side of the hill. We used to have the post collected twice a day, but now it’s just once.”

Royal Mail spokesperson Sally Hopkins, said: “The postbox in Hill View Lane, Billington is currently out of service as there is a large swarm of bees in a nearby tree and there is a risk to anyone using or collecting from the box of being stung.

“The nearest alternative box is in Little Billington, 0.4 miles away. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience. We are regularly reviewing the situation and are keen to reopen the box as soon as it is safe to do so.”

She was unable to confirm when it might reopen and villagers would be able to swarm to the postbox to send their mail once again.

Central Beds Council told the LBO that the bees would not be their responsibility and they had informed Bedfordshire Beekeepers Association about the situation.

Wally Thrale, from the Association, said the group hadn’t been made aware of the issue, but invited Royal Mail to make contact with him.

He said: “It’s no longer a swarm. They’ve taken residence there. Beekeepers can’t do anything about it at this time of year to get them out. If they’ve only been there since August then they may not have built up enough honeycomb to survive winter. It won’t be until March time that they will become active, if they do survive.”