Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Dad's Bees in Cape Town, and Problems with Permits

On Monday, while the kids, my mom and I were playing outside my parent's house, two policeman drove up and came to the gate. I assumed it was some kind of mistake, but no, they had police coming to the gate because a neighbor reported my dad to the police for keeping bees. My parents don't know which neighbor or why.

It turns out there is a complex permitting process for keeping bees- it's just not well known or well enforced. It's also really hard to get the permit in the suburbs so it seems like most people just go ahead and start keeping bees and hope for the best. There's some danger in people just haphazardly hosting swarms of bees in their backyards, but it feels as though the danger has been inflated and misunderstood (it's also good to note that these are not African bees, which can be aggressive, these are Cape Honey bees, which are not aggressive at all). In my parent's case, the danger seems minimal. Eli went right up to a frame of hundreds of bees and seemed safe and curious (we did move him away so that he didn't swat the bees or do things that one year olds do).

There is something wrong with an intimidating visit from the police: a missed opportunity to sit down with neighbours, listen to their concerns (for example, is there someone with an allergy?), and talk about the real value and possibility of having bees. The arrival of the police represents a disjoint: where it is considered optional and unnecessarily dangerous to raise food in the suburbs and somehow worthy of police investigation, yet there are a host of other more dangerous things where it would be absurd to involve the police.

Is it a stretch to say that suburbs are expected to be these artificially safe bubbles of consumers, who truck in (or drive out for) everything they need? In this context, the necessary dangers and costs of daily life are moved out of sight and out of mind. Everything happens at a distance and by proxy, even fears have to be filtered through a third party, in this case the police. It would be a terrible shame for my dad to lose his bees- for the moment, he's trying to figure out his options.

1 comment:

DarrenB said...

Do you generally find South Africa more intrusive or less intrusive than the other places where you've called home?