My urban beehive is a cautionary tale. Wellington City Council told me to remove my hive because of neighbour complaints. Their demands and orders would have scared me if I had not been a lawyer.
It is like with chooks and dogs. People are no longer expected to tolerate the minor inconveniences that once went with living alongside neighbours. They demand that the Council use its coercive powers to keep them safe, even from fears and irritations our ancestors would have scoffed at.
Bee flights over the houses below us on the hill left little yellow waxy spots on their windows (which we also got). That is a particular issue in spring when they are gearing up for the big pollen feed to grow the colonies and produce new queens and drones.
In years past when most people dried their laundry outside it was a known downside of having bees nearby. I do not diminish the issue. It would be irritating if you derived no benefit from the hive.
I offered honey to the people I thought were complaining† though the Council would not tell me who, even so I could go and offer honey.
I surveyed the neighbours. Our nearest neighbours were all in favour of me resisting the Council threats. One was sensibly direct about her unhappiness with the spots. A couple did not respond.
I tried to get a nearby site or two, where I could move the hive so the flight path would not cause the problem. I think the Hawker St Monastery garden would have been perfect, and troubled nobody. But they were scared of liability if the bees stung someone.
Eventually friends volunteered from a 10 acre block but I wanted the bees handy. I liked looking into the hive. †I loved the pohutukawa honey from our neighbourhood. I wanted our feijoas fertilised. A hive on the other side of the harbour would not do that.
Still, I could understand the neighbours’ upset. Despite the honey as recompense, one became very unsweet, so I gave the hive away. Respect for neighbours trumps.
I have to satisfy myself with the 500 or so hives on my land in the Wairarapa. I sold my hives to the beekeeper two years ago, so don’t own them now, but we are fairly involved in making it a good bee habitat. We are planting trees to feed the bees protein in spring, and placing hive sites where they might thrive.
Eventually we will be planting selected manuka seedlings, to extend the flowering season.
RNZ wants to†talk to me about bees early tomorrow afternoon. Maybe we’ll discuss the story above.