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Sunday, April 10, 2005

In which David's halo gets tarnished

This is a long, angry post. 

Not only is it long... but it paints me in a light that isn't entirely flattering.  You might want to skip it entirely.

I have promised on several occasions not to use treppenwitz in place of therapy... or to expect my reader's advice to stand in for the expertise of a competent 'shrink'.  That said, I have been steamed for a couple of weeks now over a a border dispute in West Turdistan... and I just need to vent.

While the dangers in venting online are many, the points which worry me most are:

1.  While I am certain that the people with whom I am angry do not read my blog... there is always the small possibility that the information could, by accident or design, be brought to their attention... spoiling a childish plan for revenge I have already set in motion.

2.  The waters have become somewhat murkier than necessary because of something called 'irrational fear'.  I can't dismiss irrational fear... but I can permit myself the freedom to be completely exasperated by it.

3.  I suspect that most of my readers think I am a really nice, level-headed guy.  By publishing this entry, I risk blowing that squeaky clean image out of the water and 'tarnishing my halo', so to speak.  I am a really nice guy... but every nice guy has his a dark side.  Prepare to meet mine.

In the months leading up to my installing a beehive behind our house, I spent quite a bit of time and energy reading up on the topic, talking to professional beekeepers and most important, speaking to my neighbors.  The result of this process lead me to believe that this was a hobby that could be conducted in my back yard without causing any inconvenience or danger to anyone. 

When I spoke with my neighbors, I spent a great deal of time educating them about honey bee behavior... and at the same time I tried to dispel many of the misconceptions and fears that people have about them.

I told them about hobbyist beekeepers who keep hives on their inner city balconies with no adverse impact on their neighbors.  I explained that the presence of a hive nearby would actually improve their lawns... their flower gardens... and the amount of fruit their trees would bear. 

I also promised to remove the hive at the first indication that it was, in fact becoming a danger to anyone.

The neighbors on both sides gave their enthusiastic blessing to a hive in my yard... and everything was good.

Then, the week after I installed the hive in its place, I got a call from one of my elderly neighbors who, to protect her anonymity, I will call Mrs. Irrational. 

Mrs. Irrational called to tell me that she had spoken with 'a friend' who had told her that it was very dangerous to have bees living nearby... and that she had been told that it was not uncommon for bees to come into people's houses when they were baking in order to attack them.

I assured her that this was not the case.  I explained that honey bees practice something called 'bloom loyalty', which basically means that while they are foraging on one kind of blossom, they will ignore all other sources of nectar until that source is completely exhausted.  This is how beekeepers can market honey from a particular source (e.g. orange blossom honey) with I high degree of certainty.  I told her that more opportunistic insects such as yellow jackets / hornets were another story altogether... but that I had no control over them.   I could tell she was still bothered so I offered to come over and answer any of the questions that had occurred to her since we had last spoken.

When I sat with her she told me that she has a medical condition where her left side has little or no immune protection, and that as a result she couldn't even receive vaccinations in her left arm.  She was frightened that being stung on her left side would be dangerous for her.

I asked her why she hadn't mentioned this during our first conversation and she just shrugged.  I told her that I was too new to beekeeping to know how to address her concerns and asked for a day to speak with a professional beekeeper who had been my primary source of information. 

She agreed.

My beekeeper friend assured me that having a single hive in proximity to her house (about 15-20 yards away) did not present an elevated risk to her, and offered to speak with her.  He pointed out that the fruit trees and flowers in her yard would attract bees whether I had a hive in my yard or not... and he offered to try to put her mind at ease.  He also pointed out that he had a children's visitor center in his apiary in close proximity to dozens of active hives... and in all the years he has been giving tours, not one person had ever been stung!

When I spoke with her the next day, I was able to answer with confidence that she would not have any increased risk of a sting because of my hive... and she accepted this.  I ask her a few questions of my own, though.  I asked why she didn't have screens on her windows if she were afraid of being stung? I pointed out that the plants and trees in her yard naturally attracted bees... didn't this worry her?   She just shrugged.  I also asked her if she took any other precautions about getting cuts on her left side (such as not opening cans) and she said that all she knew is that her doctor had told her not to get shots on her left side.

Fast forward a few more days and I get another call from Mrs. Irrational saying that she had spoken with a beekeeper who said that it was indeed very dangerous to have bees in an area where people lived.  I asked who this beekeeper was and she hedged by saying that she hadn't actually talked to a beekeeper, but that her friend (from whom she had previously gotten bad information) had spoken to a beekeeper. 

Now I was getting a little annoyed.  I asked her if she had called my friend to discuss her concerns and she said no.  When I asked why not, she answered that she didn't know him and therefore didn't trust what he had to say.  I asked her if in the time since I had put the hive in my yard she had seen any increase in bee activity near her yard.  She reluctantly admitted that she hadn't seen a single bee.

After a trying half hour of answering the same questions and restating things I had already told her, I got a grudging agreement from both Mrs irrational and her husband to spend a week or two paying attention to whether there were an increased number of bees in their yard.

A couple of days later I got a call from a representative of Israel's Ministry of agriculture who dealt with issues related to bees.  He said he had just had a complaint from my neighbor about my hive. 

I explained the sequence of events to him and he was surprised to hear that I had only one hive.  Apparently he had been led to believe I was running an unlicensed apiary in my back yard.  He was even more surprised to hear where I lived, since he was not sure if Israeli law was even applicable in my area (areas outside the green line are subject to a mixture of Jordanian and Ottoman law, and Israeli law is often not applicable).

He said that normally one needs permission from his office to operate an apiary.  But they routinely gave waivers to hobbyists with less than 5 hives.  Also, there was a rule (which he said was largely unenforced due to the number of Arab beekeepers in villges across the country) that said one could not have a beehive within 150 meters of a residence.  However, he pointed out that the whole issue of law was moot since I lived in 'the shtachim' (the west bank), because he didn't have to time or resources to find out if Israeli law even applied here. 

I also explained to him that I had been consulting with [name of well respected professional beekeeper], which further put his mind at ease that I was acting responsibly.  He suggested I try to reason with my neighbor again and wished me luck.

That evening I went over and asked my neighbors why they had contacted the Ministry of Agriculture and filed a complaint when we had agreed among ourselves to 'wait and see' whether they even noticed increased bee activity.  They both just shrugged.  When I pressed for an answer (and related my conversation with the person from the MOA) they said that they didn't care what he said, they believed only their friend who was telling them it was a serious danger to them (and everyone else in the neighborhood... despite the fact that they had still not seen a single bee). 

At this point I was trying (unsuccessfully) to hide my annoyance, and told them that I needed to see if there were any other suitable places for the hive in the area.  I also explained that moving a hive was something that had to be done in an organized fashion so that the bees wouldn't instinctively come back to the site where the hive had previously been situated.  They agreed to let have until the end of the week to do some investigating.

Within two hours the husband came over and demanded to know exactly when the hive would be removed.    I reminded him that we had agreed that I could have until the end of the week to come up with a plan.  He shook my hand and said that he would speak to me at the end of the week.

That evening I spoke with our community's security officer to ask him if he had any suggestions about places in Efrat that might be suitable for a hive... well away from residential areas.  He said there were several that came to mind and volunteered to drive me around on Thursday afternoon to select a spot.  He also put me in touch with the head of the orchards for a neighboring kibbutz who said he would be delighted to have me put my hive on his land if I so desired.

With a sigh of relief I went to bed confident that an amicable solution was in sight.

The next afternoon Zahava called me at work to tell me there was someone at the door asking her to sign for a letter.  He wouldn't identify himself and wouldn't say who the letter was from.  I advised her not to sign for the letter, and to tell the messenger to either leave it or take it away, as he saw fit.  He ended up leaving the letter.

The letter turned out to be from Mr. & Mrs. Irrational's son-in-law (who is an attorney) stating that the hive was against the law and demanding that I "remove it without delay or there would be serious legal consequences".

Right about here is where I lost my mind.

Every step of the way I had been civil and had reached agreements with these people as to what I would be doing.  I never once forced them to do or say anything, and every conversation ended with them smiling and shaking my hand on what the 'next steps' would/should be. 

In ever case they immediately turned around and did whatever the hell they wanted without regard to how it would impact me.

This lawyer's letter was the last straw.

I called them up and asked them why they had contacted an attorney when we had all agreed that I could have until the end of the week to sort things out.  The answer was a mish-mash of childish excuses about being scared, and their suspicion that I didn't intend to comply with their request.

I responded by telling them that now that they had gotten an attorney involved, their suspicions had turned into a self-fulfilling prophesy.  I said that I had approached them as a courtesy, and that every step of the way I had tried to be a good neighbor.  I told them that it would now likely cost us both a lot of time and money to sort out the legal issues, but that I felt confident that I would prevail. 

I didn't tell them about my success in finding a new spot for the hive.

Right now I am feeling a childish desire to really make them pay for the aggravation they have caused me.  I have already moved most of my equipment to a beautiful spot in a meadow filled with wild flowers that overlooks an orchard of fruit trees.  However, I have no intention of telling them about this.  You see, I am going to leave an empty/sealed beehive exactly where the old one stood... just to annoy them.  Let them spin their wheels... yes, let them even feel scared.  I am really about two exits past caring how they feel!

I'm secretly hoping they will pull out all the stops and invest an excessive amount of time and money trying to force me to remove the bees from my yard... only to have an empty wooden box revealed to them at the end.

Yes, I'm being just that childish.

I'm not very proud of myself for this childish subterfuge... but I'm not particularly anxious to give them the satisfaction of seeing me comply with their demands while seemingly 'under fire'.

I can also assure you that there was no communication problem that lead to a series of 'misunderstandings'.  Their English is very poor so I spoke to them in very simple, carefully constructed Hebrew.  Every step of the way they were crystal clear on what I wanted to do, and in each case they agreed that I could move ahead.

I have obviously condensed and simplified the sequence of events in order to avoid boring you to tears.  However, I have not omitted or changed anything in order to make myself look better... or them look worse. 

I guess my 'halo' looks a little tarnished to you right about now.

Oh well.


Posted by David Bogner on April 10, 2005 | Permalink


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You are being way too hard on yourself. Every person has their limits, and I think I would have lost my cool much earlier on than you did.

Posted by: Dave | Apr 10, 2005 2:40:48 PM

Actually David, my respect for you has only increased. According to your story, you were reasonable every step of the way. I think leaving an empty bee box in the backyard just to mess with them is a harmless way of getting revenge. I think it's brilliant. But then again, no one said I was the nicest person either. ;)

Posted by: harry | Apr 10, 2005 3:18:41 PM

Yeah, it would really bug them. (snort.)

Posted by: Alice | Apr 10, 2005 3:49:16 PM

And here I was, thinking that you were more saintly than the rest of us. ;)

Seriously, I'm with Harry. Harmless revenge is a good thing, and it sounds as though your neighbours really deserve it.

Posted by: Lisa | Apr 10, 2005 4:42:33 PM

I'm sorry for the long comment, but (unusually for me) it's actually on topic.

Oh, stop it. Your behavior (including the hilarious stunt you’re going to pull) is just fine. Te absolvo!

The portrait you paint of your neighbors is identical to some of my patients. I think I might be able to explain them to you. That they are elderly is highly relevant. That you named them the Irrationals is also. Here’s the only relevant thing that controls their behavior: they are afraid. Nothing else matters.
Here’s how the interaction works. She’s terrified of being stung. That’s all she can think about. When you are in her presence, she’s terrified of you. You try to give her information, but she doesn’t process information. She hears a terrifying man saying “blah blah blah” and agrees to anything just to get you to leave. She sees your visit as an aggression and as soon as you leave feels she must take steps to defend herself. Whatever she heard from her acquaintance the beekeeper was lost on her and reinterpreted as “you’re in grave danger from the bees”.

If you simply substitute cholesterol medicine or blood pressure medicine for bees, you have very similar interactions that I’ve had with patients hundreds of times. They’re terrified of the medicines because of some side-effects they heard in a commercial for a news story, or from their nephew’s husband who’s a podiatrist. When in my presence, I (unintentionally) intimidate them, so when I explain the risk of a heart attack without the medicine and the very rare occurrence of side effects, they agree to take it. I think they’re being persuaded by the information, but they only operate on feelings; they just want to get out of the room. Two months later I will find out that they never took even the first dose. Back to square one.

Clearly the only solution is to kill them and make it look like an accident. Um, strike that, I mean terrify them that the hive is still there. One concern about your impending subterfuge: I don’t care one whit about your neighbors’ feelings. If you manage to terrify them, good for you. I worry about potential liability. I imagine a “bee sting” on her “horribly weakened” left side in two weeks that results in a civil suit with a claim for damages. She’ll never see the actual bee, and the sting could have been a splinter from her door jamb, but there will still be doctors’ notes documenting a mild skin infection that required treatment. I recommend you have some authoritative neutral person whom you know (a local police sergeant?) come over to witness that as of today the hive is empty. Have him write down the date. That way when she is “stung” next week, you’re not liable.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Apr 10, 2005 4:57:26 PM

My Abba always says that people have an untapped capacity for stupidity. It seems to me that your neighbors have just tapped into theirs!
kol tuv

Posted by: Faye | Apr 10, 2005 5:37:19 PM

I was going to say "give them what they deserve, may she fear herself to, erm, nightmares. Magia la."
But then, Doc Bean is right. These are obviously behind-the-back people of the mean kind. Those that smile at you while having a knife behind their back, and they've just proven more than once, haven't they. Save yourself troubles, but if you don't mind finding a liable person to testify the empty hive so that their SIL can't do a heck about it...go for the fun of it all.
Everyone gets what they deserve, goes the saying.

[and is it for sure that the empty hive could be sealed so that there is really no chance of bees to settle?]

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Apr 10, 2005 5:40:46 PM

On a separate note,
David, have you ever read "My Side of the Mountain" because every chapter starts with "In Which" or "With Which" I just found it amusing that you started your post this way.

Posted by: Faye | Apr 10, 2005 5:43:49 PM

Oh, Dave - I'm going to go against the tide on this one. While you're obviously 100% right in how you dealt with each step of this strange story, the ending is still troublesome. Yes, the neighbors may be jerks. But is the punishment for being a jerk being scared (rationally or not) of bodily injury? I'm scared of neighborhood dogs that bark at me when I pass by with the kids. I know they can't get out of their yards, but they still scare me, and I feel the owners are responsible for that.

I'm reminded of a teacher of mine who admonished us once that mitzvot such as being hospitable to guests do not apply only to people we like, but to all Jews. As she put it, the "miscanim (pathetic people)" were at har sinai too. Like it or not, we have considerations to all Jews, even the jerks.

BTW, I would also consider it a real possibility that your post will get back to them.

Anyway, I'm on your side in spirit, if a party-pooper in reality. (My husband thinks the whole story is very funny.)

Posted by: WolFam | Apr 10, 2005 5:57:43 PM

Extremely childish David - I'll look forward to reading about their reaction!!


Posted by: gil ben mori | Apr 10, 2005 7:12:10 PM

In order that "Meaaz Yatsa Matok" why don't you sent your blog to the 'Jerusalem Post', so that other readers who will too, find it entertaining (as I surely did) can read it?

I have no doubt that you write well, if you just turn the blog into a 'philiton' (thats what it was called in Ivrit once a long time ago).

You remind me of the eraly Efraim Kishon, who used to have a coloum in the "Maariv" newspaper.
Years before he published his frist book. There is a 'story' in it, 'you can write well' so get your revenge this way.

It is just a pity that the 'natives' probably do not take the 'Jerusalem post'


Posted by: savta yaffa | Apr 10, 2005 7:39:19 PM

Hey David it was nice meeting you on Shabbat.

You are being totally reasonable. The problem is that you are so reasonable that you don't recognize the reality of your neighbor's fear. Bees are scary. I'm scared of 'em. So I can understand how someone else might be. All your explanations are irrefutable. But the bottom line is that you were going to place something that frightens them terribly right on their back doorstep.

The more irrefutable your explanations were the more convinced they became that you will never see their fear.

Prove them wrong. After you remove the hive tell them something like;

"I realize that it must have been terrible for you the past few weeks. I'm sorry about that. The prospect of a whole hive of bees nesting so close to you must have made you feel so unsafe. Feeling safe is important to me. And I I want you to feel safe too.

So that's why I've removed them.

Posted by: Andy | Apr 10, 2005 7:50:54 PM

If it was me I'd consider leaving a bag full of dead bees on their doorstep. It is not going to help the situation, but it is eminently satisfying.

It sounds like you did the right thing here, in spite of that people do stupid things, irritating but true.

Posted by: Jack | Apr 10, 2005 7:52:53 PM

Oh poor David, I was laughing while I read it but pitied you, too. While reading I could feel you fuming behind every line and syllable. And the build-up is really as unbearable as a good Kishon - you don't want to live in a world so full of irrationality!

But then - Dr. Bean is so clever, I would never even have thought of this explanation but he is totally right. Pure fear. My drawer is full of stuff the doctor gave me but I never took it because the holistic freak (ex of neighbor) said it might cause all kind of problems... and I don't even take Acamol any more. So I guess we all have such irrational spots. I'm a cheetah of irrationality! So after reading Dr. Bean I began to UNDERSTAND your neigbors! Do you hate me now???

Listen to Andy, be generous and rational without power games, but also tell them that it's a pity they used the "derech achorit" with you. Because this is a sure way of harming one's relationships.

What does Zehava say to the whole story?

(*phew* I'm glad you're human after all!!!) (And you say bees are not dangerous?)

Posted by: Lila | Apr 10, 2005 9:52:42 PM

Damn! I'm so afraid of bees I aint even goin' near that empty wooden box!

Posted by: Andy | Apr 10, 2005 10:01:00 PM

The best part of the story is that she has weakened immunity on her left side! What does that mean? Is she a conjoined twin with no commingled blood supply? Seriously, I think you should leave a severed horse-head in their bed. I think I saw that somewhere.

Posted by: ball-and-chain | Apr 10, 2005 10:58:11 PM

What I find so illuminating here is that your problem is your incredibly considerate discussion with them from the outset. You talked with them and put all their fears to rest (so you thought) before you got the bees.

Had you said nothing, they'd have no idea what the box is, or why you're walking around in a spacesuit. Thus, no problems from them.

May I suggest that when your next "big idea" grips you and you begin to refine plutonium in your backyard shed, you not bother letting them know about it beforehand? :-)

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Apr 10, 2005 11:24:35 PM

Oy. There's one in every neighborhood.

With my former roommate and myself, it was the downstairs neighbors, who tried to convince us that we were keeping them awake and being terribly inconsiderate by taking a shower or even moving around the apartment in slippers after a certain hour of the night. In their unreasoning belief that we should bow to their every demand, they damaged our property and threatened us. Eventually we had to bring in the police.

It was big of you to move the hive -- and I'm also glad you did it for the sake of the bees. These people seem not only irrational but also devious, and I'd be afraid they might try to harm the bees at some point, using their fear as justification.

Whether you should leave the empty hive in place just to rankle them ... my davka side says an enthusiastic "Go for it," while my rational side says: If you're going to do that, protect yourself from any possible ramifications first.

Posted by: Rahel | Apr 11, 2005 12:05:56 AM

I guess you have never heard the old Jewish Proverb, "Ask about the neighbors...then buy the house." :)

Posted by: jason | Apr 11, 2005 12:33:09 AM

I wasn't going to say anything on this one (I am NOT known for my diplomacy!), but since Lila asked, I will weigh in....

I really do understand about irrational fear -- having one or two of my own -- including an irrational fear of -- YOU GUESSED IT: BEES! What has me absolutely beyond furious is the fact that Mr. Irrational stood in our living room the night before he sent a couriered letter from his attorney and made every show of accepting David's disappointed resignment to move the hives. I was in the room. It was VERY clear. He asked, "You will move them, then?" to which David replied, "By the end of the week I will have found them a new home." And folks, if I understood the Hebrew, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE THAT NO ONE ELSE DID!

In addition, the manner in which the letter was sent was disgusting. A courier who refuses to identify himself or his employer?! What kind coward can't put his name on his actions?

But, what I am truly hopping mad over is the message this sends to our kids. Don't trust your neighbors, and good gracious G-d, don't give them an opportunity to make good on their word! NO! By all means, go the aggressive route, because being RIGHT and INSISTENT is way more important than practicing Derech Eretz! If we can't trust our neighbors, and give them the opportunity to show their good intentions, is it any wonder we can't establish a safer relationship with our enemies?

Not that i am bitter or anything....

Posted by: zahava | Apr 11, 2005 12:48:43 AM

Dave... But you're an Aussie... you're supposed to have a short fuse! "that's not a knife... THIS is is a knife!". :-)

Harry... Y'know what would make this almost worthwhile? If I could get a shout out on your next podcast. Nothing fancy...

Alice... 'snort' indeed.

Lisa... You have no idea. I deliberately left out some of the unrelated baggage that I've been collecting from other run-ins with these folks because I didn't want to completely trash them. Trust me when I say that this behavior is not an isolated incident.

Doctor Bean... The difference is that your patients are paying for the privilege of ignoring your medical advice. In my case I was the one who invested a lot of time, money and energy in something AFTER getting the thumbs up from these irrational people. I honestly would not have put the hive in my yard if they had simply said at the outset that they had in irrational fear of bees, or that there was a medical condition involved (real or imagined).

Faye... This isn't just stupidity. There was a healthy dose of malice and deceit on their part as well. And no, I have not read it. This is a device I have seen employed on other blogs when the blogger/journaler wants to imply that what follows is part of an ongoing saga.

Mademoiselle a. ... I met a frequent reader (and occasional commenter) at a wedding tonight (we were both in the band). He said that he had written a long comment but deleted it because it was full of generalizations that would be offensive to many Israelis. However, one point he made to me privately made a lot of sense. He said that many Israelis see the world in terms of finite possibilities... a pie of sorts that was somehow going to be divided among everyone. Those that are 'nice' and wait their turn too often get less than their share, so people with this mindset tend to grab first... especially when they perceive 'niceness' or hesitation on anyone's part. The also suspect 'nice' behavior of masking aggressive behavior and will often try to beat the other person to the punch. This explains much of their behavior in traffic... in lines... and in commerce. It also might explain why my courteous behavior might have caused them to nod and agree with me to my face... and then immediately jump to try and grab the upper hand. I don't know if this is true... but it seems to fit.

Wolfam... I though about using the dog analogy, but it seemed flawed since my dog could never get out and approach someone who was irrationally afraid of her... while the bees were free to go wherever they desired. I said at the start that I accept the existence and power of irrational fears... but I also reserved the right to be exasperated by them (just ask my wife).

Gilly... count on it.

Savta Yaffa... I wrote about this here in order to vent. I appreciate your high regard for my writing, but this is not the sort of story for which I would want to become well known. Unfortunately I will likely remain in relative obscurity because the market for short stories about coffee, dog poop and children seems to have been cornered by the late Erma Bombeck.

Andy... It was very nice meeting you as well. All I will say to your very reasonable suggestion is the following:

1. That is the sort of thing that a calm, rational person would do.
2. I am not that person (at least not at the moment).

Jack... A bag full of dead bees? No. I was, however, thinking of leaving the classic flaming paper bag of fresh dog poop on their doorstep and ringing the bell (just picture one of them trying to stamp out the fire!), but I was afraid that somebody's ticker might choose that moment to go on the fritz.

Lila... All modesty (false or otherwise) aside... I would be happy to be worthy of having somebody use one of my blog entries as a bookmark to hold a place in a Kishon story. as to Zahava's take on this... I'll let her have her say.

Andy... Just for fun I will occasionally wander around the back yard in my bee suit. If push comes to legal shove... I'll explain to the judge that I'm also deathly afraid of bees (even wild ones).

Ball and chain... I'll leave it to your hubby to tell me if there is such a thing. She says that as a result of a previous cancer surgery, something was removed that compromised the immunity of only her left side. I have no medical reason to doubt her. As to the horse head idea... I'm thinking that would definitely result in a flatline.

Andy Levy-Stevenson... So you are saying I asked a 'shailat kitbag'?

Rahel... I think I will take your 'Davka' side out for a beer some time and we will make fun of your rational side. :-)

Jason... we were too busy trying not to get screwed by the people we were buying the house from to worry about the neighbors!

Posted by: David | Apr 11, 2005 1:27:53 AM

Just so there is no mistaking, let me reiterate: a gentleman's agreement (or so we were led to believe) was arrived upon last Monday night in our living room. David was very polite -- disappointed by the need to move the hive -- but in no way shape or form acted as though he wouldn't accommodate this woman's irrational fear. DESPITE his willingness to move the hive, at great inconvenience to himself not only in the moving, but in all future maintenance, we were basically "served" with attorney's papers the following day!

And served in such a manner as to be intimidating and humiliating -- I had just arrived home from my teaching position and still had a babysitter in the house who got to witness the unpleasantries -- you can imagine my joy....

To be treated like a common criminal after AGREEING to respect our neighbor's irrational fear is simply intolerable! The truth is that David, in the end, moved the hives IN SPITE of their disgusting behaviour, not due to it. The fact that this nuance will be lost on these two only adds fuel to my fire!

You could even say that I have a "bee in my bonnet" over it.... [sigh].

Posted by: zahava | Apr 11, 2005 2:00:06 AM


I think I am seeing a small connection between my Winnie-the-Pooh witch and your neighbors....it seems all that honey doesn't make anyone sweeter!!!

And folks, i go into anaphylactic shock when I get stung by bees, and I had no problem staying at the treppenwitzes this past shabbat. In fact, a highlight (besides the chicken) was watching Bryan and David suited up in heekeeper outfits transferring the so-called "dangerous" hives. Though I did notice bryan kept much furhter away than David!

Posted by: Noa | Apr 11, 2005 9:48:53 AM

Ouch... Not sure what can be added... But it may be a good idea to *record* all future exchanges with them. Then again, I don't know how a shrug would register on tape...

I don't know if it's illegal here to record a conversation w/o both parties consent (I'm pretty sure it's legal in the U.S. as long as one party consents to the recording), but if you do choose to record, *do not* (I repeat, do not) tell them-- it can only make more problems (kind of like that plutonium comment).

Good luck,

Posted by: wogo | Apr 11, 2005 12:03:11 PM

Hah David you're the best. I don't think any of us thought you were the type to tolerate other people walking all over you.
As far as therapy goes, I think blog-therapy is fine from time to time. The other day a friend of mine said that one day I'm gonna get a huge bill for all the blog therapy I've gotten.

Posted by: Maria | Apr 11, 2005 3:01:03 PM

You could put their home up for sale on eBay. "Beautiful vacation home located in picturesque Israel. The Land of Milk and Fresh Honey estate offers too many features to be listed. Don't be stung by missing out on this opportunity.

There, that is a very rough and very weak listing. It took all of 15 seconds to write, can't be much longer to send an email off, not that I am really suggesting that you do that.

Posted by: Jack | Apr 11, 2005 4:46:37 PM


Two comments:

1. Now you know what to wear as a costume next Purim

2. You are following in the footsteps of Lance Armstrong. See my post from last summer, here:


Don't get mad, get even!

Posted by: MO Chassid | Apr 11, 2005 5:38:08 PM

Noa... I'll let you in on a little white lie. I really didn't need Bryan's help... I just wanted to see if he would actualy put on the suit and go play with the bees. He passed the test with flying colors! :-)

Wogo... I'm not interested in working too hard on this childishness... just in getting a little satisfaction. If I wanted to be evil I have about a million dirty tricks that I could play on them.

Maria... Of course you are right. I really wasn't looking for therapy here... but writing it down and letting people see it has been very helpful.

Jack... Like I said, way too much work. I could do what someone once did to me... put their car up for sale at an impossibly low price with the instructions to call only between 5-6 AM. My friend S.A. put that ad in the New York Times for a full week... and billed the ad to ME! No, I'm happy just letting them steam over the hive.

Mo... That was THIS YEAR's costume! Oh, and as to your question about whether it was appropriate to do something for revenge just because it was within the rules... or whether it was just plain 'mean-spirited and petty'... I don't see why it can't be both appropriate and mean spirited. :-)

Posted by: David | Apr 11, 2005 6:00:53 PM

Talk about putting everything in perspective...

And here I was, dreading tonight's gig at Westmount CC due to the well-known rude shmuck who runs the parties there. (You were the only Neshoma sub-leader to stand your ground after one of his minions cavalierly tossed my horn on the floor...:-)

As far as your situation with your neighbor is concerned, to put it in a way my Cecere big band mates in the "row in front of me" would understand; Perhaps "revenge is a dish best served with a trombone..." (Shameless plug here:http://www.richiececere.com/main.htm Yes, that's me both floating across the screen in the intro, and again on the Home page).

(This was actually more of a note to let you know that one of your old "brass-partners-in-crime" checks in on "treppenwitz" every so often).

Hope everything is well and have a good Pesach...:-)

Posted by: Mike Spengler | Apr 11, 2005 7:35:59 PM

Yeah, I'm an immunologist, not a doctor. I could not figure out how someone could have "decreased immunity" on only one side. The good doctor (who understands what people mean when they say "decreased immunity," understood immediately that she meant that she had probably had a lynmph node removed, leading to decreased lymph flow. Oh, well, I guess I just look like an idiot. Doctor Bean is very good at translating "patientese." I guess that's why they pay him the big bucks.

Posted by: Ball-and-chain | Apr 12, 2005 6:19:55 AM

Actually, a better guess for what she means when she says "my immune system is weakened on the left side" is "I'm a paranoid schyzophrenic. Where's that buzzing coming from?"

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Apr 12, 2005 7:25:00 AM

David, David, David.

You are too hard on yourself. How many people would've undertaken the time, as you considerately did, to infomr them beforehand? Not many, I'd wager.

I think the good Doctor Bean is on the money when it comes to describing their behavior- that in reality, your peaceful missives were interpreted as threatening. And that's NOT your problem to own, it's Mrs. Irrational's.

And that's what a lot of this comes down to, really. Owning your fears and actions- something they have certainly not done. And sending in the MOA, then attorney- they never intended to keep their agreements with you. Why else did they take it all "to the next level" after each successive meeting? A sad, sad indictment on them, IMHO.

You've handled it all a great deal better than many people would have.

Oh, and if your halo ever REALLY becomes tarnished, let me know. I'd like to see it. :)

Posted by: Lachlan | Apr 12, 2005 7:42:31 AM

Mike... Thanks for stopping by! I remember that gig where I threatened to have the band pack up and go home if that putz of a banquet manager didn't back down. Let's just say I miss the hang with the guys on the bandstand much more than I miss the bandstand itself. :-) Any gigs scheduled with Springsteen in the near future? Remember, you're my 'one degree of separation' from fame!

Ball and Chain... Don't be too hard on yourself. I consider myself fairly well informed on medical issues and it sounded screwy to me also. However, I wasn't really concerned with whether she was telling the truth or not. My big concern was if I was doing something that was going to put her in any more danger than her normal day-to-day routine. I am still comfortable that I was acting responsibly.

Doctor Bean... There are actually a race of stingless honey bees that are indigenous to the Americas. They are not often used by beekeepers because they are not as prolific or productive as the Italian bees (Apis Mellifera) that are most commonly used by professional honey operations. I am actually tempted to see if I can get permission to import some of these and put them in my yard... y'know, just for sh*ts and giggles. :-)

Lachlan... The more I think about it the more I am convinced that culturally, asking permission in advance was the wrong thing to do. There seems to be something in the culture here that perceives such polite behavior as an invitation to become a doormat. Let's just say I've learned an important lesson.

As to letting you see my halo... I'll show you mine if you'll show me your horns! :-)

Posted by: David | Apr 12, 2005 9:41:53 AM

David, you're a honest-to-goodness human being, with "negative" emotions like the rest of us? Color me shocked! Except, well, not so much.

As everyone and their mother before have said, you've done everything in a sublimely reasonable manner and have been thwarted by the irrational fears and duplicity of two not-at-all rational people. I'd be close to going nuclear myself, if I were you. I probably would have hit nuclear two steps back, to be honest.

I'd probably be tempted to do the same as you, but if you do go that route, I would do as Doctor Bean suggests and make sure you have an independent witness and documentation to show that there's nothing in the box before they can come back to you.

I also agree with mademoiselle a. - make sure there's no way that bees could come back to settle in the empty box.

Interesting. This is nothing more than a long-winded, "Me too, what they said," post. Huh.

Posted by: Carol | Apr 12, 2005 4:38:44 PM

Carol... After suffering through such a long post you're entitled to give back in kind. And don't worry... there is no way a single bee can get back inside the sealed hive I have in my back yard. I have also had several people out to have a look so there is no lack of witnesses to the fact that there are no bees there. Nice to have you back from Vegas.

Posted by: David | Apr 12, 2005 10:19:54 PM

Thanks, David, it's good to be back.

Posted by: Carol | Apr 13, 2005 1:01:28 AM

Oooooo! He he he he he!
*jumping up and down and giggling*
That's what I would do too! Well done sir!

And completely off topic, do you or did you have any realtives in Cincinnati? I was looking at an article from 1977 about a housing collective my parents bought into and a neighbor was a Bogner. Just wondering.

Posted by: Fran | Apr 14, 2005 12:06:40 AM

I think you should leave the hive right where it was when all this started. You're letting two irrational old pains in the ass dictate your activities at your own home. In fact, in a perverted and twisted strand of logic, your moving the hive because they're afraid of what the bees might (but won't) do invalidates all your prior precautions and validates their fears and threats.

I say screw 'em and leave the hive alone. Or maybe move it even closer to them.

(And I'm sure this sentiment from me doesn't surprise you at all. ;) )

Posted by: Chuck | Apr 14, 2005 7:33:09 AM

Fran... I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who occasionally dreams of childish revenge. As far as I know I have never had any relatives in Ohio... but my paternal grandfather's part of the family tree is still a bit of a mystery.

Chuck... While I may agree with you in theory (whole heartedly in fact), I also have to live in the community. The fact that they are an elderly couple and she has gone through a battle with cancer already gives them quite a few sympathy points before any facts are considered. I don't know how it is in LA, but here in Israel the elderly receive deference... often without regard to whether they are right or wrong. Also, there is the issue of my original promise to remove the hive if it became an annoyance or a danger to the neighbors. At this point it doesn't really matter that the danger/annoyance was entirely in their head... a promise is a promise.

However, my obligation doesn't extend to telling them that I am living up to my promise. It is enough that I know I'm doing the right thing.

Oh... and no, I'm not surprised at the position you took. :-)

Posted by: David | Apr 14, 2005 11:53:30 AM

Brilliant! I enjoyed every aspect of your story. Encountering people who can't or won't debate honestly or logically won't cause me to retaliate in kind. Venting about the situation doesn't make you a bad person.

Posted by: David Bailey | Apr 20, 2005 11:33:38 PM

Interesting solution to your frightened yet annal neighbors. I am allergic to bees, all of them. For what ever reason, I also attract bees. I have a sister whom is a naturalist and have a good understanding of the benefit of bees. I can help explain something for you. Allergies break down the immune system. An allergic reaction to a bee sting can cause a heart attack and death. I am sure you do not want that. To bad the communication was not all in the open in the beginning. Sorry you lost a friend, but putting fuel on the fire, with the empty bee box, does not help either. Although it sounds like something I would do. ahah Good luck in your new location for the bee hive and I hope you become friends with your neighbor again. As an out sider, I think you all are at fault for not communicating fully.
Thier lack of communicating the health problem they had and your lack of understanding that hives can also be dangerous to some. In your zeal to have a new hive which is a great adventure, you pointed out all the good points to your neighbors, because you really wanted it, but you did not look at the dangers it can cause to some. I have a neighbor down the rd. with several hives. She is very excited about it. It is her second attempt. Her queen bee died last year. I guess in the states some of the Honey bees have died from a virus. So she started a new nest this year. Because I am allergic, I just started having my own own yard treated for bugs and find I can not go out doors this year. I do not blame my neighbor. There are so many bees everywhere I could not pin point the bees to being her fault. Bees are very thick in the states this year. Good luck with your active hive.

Posted by: Belinda Kent | Aug 12, 2005 11:14:17 PM

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