Ratepayers face $50,000 bill for Plan Bee

The city councillor behind a bold plan to create more buzz in Christchurch wants ratepayers to stump up $50,000 so the council can employ a fulltime bee expert.

Cr Aaron Keown yesterday told The Press that at the Christchurch City Council's budget meeting this month he would push to have money put aside in the Three-year Plan for a bee co-ordinator to spearhead his Plan Bee initiative.

Plan Bee is aimed at boosting the honey-bee population in Christchurch by introducing beehives across the city.

Since going public with the idea, Keown has been overwhelmed with support.

People have been volunteering their land, while others are keen to invest in hives.

Keown now believes the time is right to put Plan Bee into action and has talked to council chief executive Tony Marryatt about employing a fulltime co-ordinator for a year.

He has calculated it would cost about $50,000, less than 35 cents per ratepayer.

"We are talking about less than 35c a year to get your garden pollinated," Keown said.

The co-ordinator would match people keen to have hives on their land with commercial and hobby beekeepers who were willing to install and maintain them.

They would also be responsible for:

- Overseeing a one-year amnesty aimed at uncovering unregistered hives and checking them to ensure they were disease-free.

- Putting in place a Bee Wise education programme to educate the public, including schoolchildren, on the critical role that bees played in the eco-system and food chain.

- Devising a strategy for increasing the native bee population.

"This is about education, this is about disease control and this is about maximum pollination - all for $50,000," Keown said.

"It's a great investment and has a perfect synergy with Christchurch as the Garden City."

If Plan Bee worked as envisaged, Christchurch would end up with the lowest rate of diseased hives of any urban environment and the highest pollination rate.

The council's budget meeting is scheduled to begin on June 24.

The Press