This Billerica Selectman’s Video About Bee Poop Is Performance Art
Last week, the Lowell Sun reported that the board of health in Billerica had threatened a local apiary with daily fines if it didn’t change the flight path of its swarms of bees, after a family complained that their nearby home, vehicles, and clothing were consistently getting covered with bee excrement.
The story sparked intense public debate ranging from the right of government to impose such penalties, to the value of open space and family farms.
Town selectman George Simolaris, who infamously painted the crosswalks in the town center with green deck paint a year ago this week to call attention to a busy intersection, has weighed in on the matter with a 17-minute video posted to Facebook. A master of grassroots organizing, Simolaris previously defeated a massive, proposed overhaul of the town center, and plans to challenge state Rep. Marc Lombardo, a Republican, for his seat this November.
The video, which follows Simolaris on a tour of the area surrounding the apiary in search of bee excrement, is part investigative report, part PSA, and part Andy Kaufman masterpiece. Concerned citizens, dogs, and the clergy all make cameo appearances. The video, shared by nearly 400 people on Facebook, has been viewed more than 30,000 times as of Friday morning.
“I say move the bees over 1 ft and tell that jackass of a pu$$y to stfu and get over himself before he magicaly has alot more shit all over his house,” one Facebook commenter wrote. “And besides how much can a gosh dam bee poop anyways for Christ sake … bunch of yupidy fucks making a stink over anything … maybe we should patition to have them be forced to move out.”
“We need people like George before billerica turns into a socialist town,” wrote another.
While the video issues no call to action—calling the town manager, attending the next selectmen’s meeting—there is a very friendly horse at the end. Below is an annotated guide:
01:30 — “If the bees stay over here, and they’re here all year, and he hasn’t washed his house, where is the other house getting all hit by bee poo-poo?”
02:36 — Simolaris, clutching a stem in the middle of a field and joined by his two dogs, briefly reflects on how lucky the town is to have the apiary.
03:19 — “How do we know that the bees that are doing poo-poo on this guy’s house, this family’s house, are from the Card family farm? Are we going to check DNA of bee poo-poo?”
04:40 — An unidentified man in a Boston College shirt, who bears a striking resemblance to comedian Patton Oswalt, says that while he’s had no issue with honey bees, mosquitos are still a problem. “So anyway, he doesn’t have bee things on his house,” Simolaris says. “No other people had bee things on their house. The people that said that they have a problem with the bees going poo-poo on their house, the yellow house…We looked at the roof, not from their property but from the road and on the farmer’s land, and looking at the roof of the house in question, I’m a painter, I’m a power-washer, I saw zero build-up of anything. So how do we know the guy’s getting whatever this stuff is might be from birds, might be from bats. Frankly, I don’t see anything there.”
06:10 — Simolaris speaks with a couple who just moved to Billerica, and informs them of the bee crisis. “There was a cease-and-desist order on the farm two houses away, telling them that they should find a new place to house their bees. That’s like telling a dairy farmer to find a new place to put his cows.”
06:41 — Simolaris stands outside St. Theresa’s Retreat. “This is a retreat for nuns over here, and here comes one down the road right now. But, as you can see, if you look at the house, this is 1715. There’s no bee poo-poo on anything.”
07:00 — Simolaris greets the incoming nun, who appears to be holding a tray of baked goods. “I know that one house has said that there’s been is a problem,” he tells her, “but the bee poo-poo comes off every easily if it was there, and it only is at a certain time of the year.” The nun says she’s praying for the bee farmers.
08:00 — Nun exits.
09:13 — Simolaris tells a homeowner about an “unfavorable” Lowell Sun article about the dispute. Jump-cut to Simolaris reading the newspaper to the homeowner.
11:51 — “I went to the other house yesterday, and nothing against the other party involved, but I knocked on his door to speak with him, and I would never think of bringing the camera on his property without his permission, but I didn’t notice one iota of any kind of dirt or bee things on his porch or steps.”
13:13 — “Do you ever have a problem with your house having, they call, for lack of a better word, having bee poo-poo on it?” Simolaris asks a man cutting his lawn. “I don’t even know what that is,” he replies.
14:00 — “So the Card family has eight days left to remove their bees or stop the bees from aerially going over to the one house that’s supposedly is getting poo-poo on the house due to these bees,” says Simolaris, now seated on a tractor-trailer bed. “But we’ve checked all the neighbors’ house. The people right next door just bought a house. They’re happy to live by the farm. There’s no poo-poo on their house. I showed you the barns here. There’s no poo-poo on anybody’s house.”
“I can’t understand how one house in the whole town is getting poo-poo on it. It is a yellow house, and I know that bees like blonde hair and red hair and colors, but I don’t think that would be it. I don’t know.”
16:42 — Simolaris is petting a horse. “You know, folks, we don’t want to lose one of the last farms we have left in Billerica.”