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Bees Bite Back!

I know that I signed off for a week or two, but something has come up that is disturbing, and somewhat instructive. This all arose from my story of the Victoria St. Extension bee-hives. The story brought forth a heap of information, and stirred up some long buried passions about bureaucracy generally.

What has emerged is a potential conflict of interest of substantial proportions, on a small scale of course.  And for once, TCDC is entirely innocent in this imbroglio. Instead it concerns a young whipper-snapper, not long out of university, who was foolish enough to sign the offensive letter referred to in the story. This letter to “The Bee-keeper” was left hanging from the branch of a tree at the entrance to the hive-site in question. His name is Jack Wass, and he is employed as “Area Inspector” by Council contractor – Opus.

Young Jack must be wet behind the ears because in signing the letter, he failed to reveal that his father, who occupies a property further up Victoria Street Extension has allowed a beekeeper called Wood, or Woods, allegedly from the Wairarapa to set up shop on his property for a fee, in place of a previous non-fee-paying beekeeper. This beekeeper has another hive site further down the Extension nearer to the original site in question, and has also received a ‘removal’ notice.

These two bee-keepers have occupied the hive-sites in question that may or may not infringe to one degree or another on Council road reserves, since 1984 – 31 years in all – long before young Jack was even thought of. Some movement has taken place on and off the reserves in response to flooding at various times, but the sites remain relatively static, and have provided good income apparently in accordance with our Council’s desire to encourage economic activity in all its various forms.

in view of the length of undisturbed occupancy, and the fact that honey collection takes place entirely off the reserves the extraction of a fee by Council for their use  may be regarded by some as churlish, but on the other hand, it is a legitimate source of income. But outright removal? - Outrageous!

The nub of the matter is that the new rental-paying occupier of the Wass site apparently made the complaint, that may of may not have been inspired by Jack's father, about the bees of the operator of the higher of the two sites putting pressure on the bees on his 'rented' site.

The apparent reaction of Opus, or was it simply Jack Wass, was to order the removal of all sites on the Extension including the one that was the subject of my original story, Now does anyone detect a gross conflict of interest in this action on behalf of Opus?

Others may not, but in my suspicious manner, I do, and I suggest that as a consequence, Mr Jack Wass consider his position very carefully. It may well be that he can justify his actions as being within the powers of Opus as contractor, and his as an Opus employee. But perception is everything, and the actions of Mr Wass to remove a bee-keeper of 31 years standing on this pretext does not look good either for him, or for Opus, particularly considering his father's apparent role. 

I hold no candle for anyone on this issue – I know none of the parties involved, but my sense of fair play is severely tested by what has been revealed to me over the past twenty-four hours. I would suggest that Opus management, and Mr Jack Wass in particular examine their positions very carefully before they follow through on any action threatened, or otherwise.

Mr Wass may be young and inexperienced - that is no excuse for Opus allowing a callow youth to issue edicts of this nature, and in this manner. TCDC needs to examine the nature of its contract with this company without delay to ensure that such activity is not repeated. 

TCDC may in the meantime care to consider the income earning capacity of its road reserves in relation to hive-sites - particularly those that involve the collection of the extremely valuable manuka sourced honey, and take action accordingly.

Mr Wood, as a Johnny-come-lately, may equally consider the effect of complaints of this nature on the livelihoods of his fellow bee-keepers. What goes around comes around, and this level of complaint can establish an atmosphere of long-term bitterness. Bees after all bear only a passing allegiance to hives, and he would do well to remember the old adage – “live and let live.”




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