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Shell Shocked: The arbitrator and the bees

By Staff | Aug 27, 2019

Art Stevens

My neighbor and I couldn’t resolve a dispute we had and we were forced to go into arbitration. We tried as hard as we could to resolve the issue between ourselves but neither fist fights nor name calling did the trick.

So here we were in some arbitrator’s office being told to cool off and sit still. Can you imagine two frenetic adults being told to sit still? I defied the arbitrator and paced back and forth – only to learn later that points were being taken off my evaluation sheet.

I was furious with my neighbor. He really had crossed the line. Literally, he did. He constructed a bee hive on my side of our boundary line. And wouldn’t you know it; the bees gravitated toward my backyard, not his. He had the best of both worlds.

When I originally brought this situation to his attention he countered with the argument that nature knows no boundaries, that bees can live and fly anywhere they like. I showed him a survey of my property but he insisted that boundary lines didn’t apply to bee hives. To make sure he understood my viewpoint I threw a rock through his window and told him that since rocks are part of nature they, too, knew no property boundaries.

He didn’t agree with my logic and mowed my lawn with his SUV. It was clear my neighbor and I weren’t seeing eye to eye. I tried kindness. I said to him that if he agreed to move the bee hive to his own property I would return his teenage son whom I had kidnapped the day before.

He said he would sacrifice his son to keep the bees because bees make honey and all his son made was a mess. Now, tell me, can you deal rationally with such logic? I pleaded with him. “Please move the bee hive and I won’t release my nuclear weapon.” He said: “Go ahead, make my day.” I asked him why he was so intransigent. He said he was not a transient. There was no agreement on anything except for the fact that we both chose to bring our dispute before an arbitrator.

The arbitrator’s name was Henry Clay, a distant relative of the “Great Compromiser” of American history. My assumption was that with a name like Henry Clay this arbitrator would be fair and logical. He asked us both to state our positions on the matter of the bee hive which we did. My neighbor and I almost came to blows again but Henry turned out to be very agile and separated us constantly. He heard us out and sat there thinking for what seemed like an eternity. He then spoke:

“Thank you for placing your faith in me. I shall try to live up to the standards set by my ancestor, the original Henry Clay. Compromise is always the best resolution to a conflict. Clearly, there is bad blood between the two of you. And the cause is a bee hive built on property not belonging to the bee owner. Moreover, the bees seem to be trending in the direction of the non-bee owner. This question is directed at the bee owner. Why did you place the bee hive on your neighbor’s property?”

My neighbor said: “Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly. My bees will stay where they are until I die. That’s how I feel about it.”

That did it. The arbitrator made his decision, placed his official stamp on it and left the room. My neighbor hated the decision, of course, but he’s now getting used to my snake pit on his front porch.