​Three Million Bees Confiscated, Owner Faces $90,000 Penalty

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August 24, 2012

Three million bees were confiscated from a man’s driveway by the New York City Beekeepers Association and now the owner faces a $90,000 penalty after authorities learned that he once worked as a beekeeper in China.

Brazen beekeeper Yi Gin Chen, 58, claimed he started with one hive two years ago and the insects just multiplied.

“It’s gotten out of hand,” he said. “I don’t have the time or resources to do this.”

Upset neighbors seem to agree. In the mornings, “it’s like a big swarm of a couple million bees. You never seen anything like it in your life,” said one neighbor, Louie Socci, 58. “The guy’s nuts. I called the city once and they didn’t do anything.”

Part of the driveway in the two-family home on 111th St. in Corona contained a handful of hives, while the adjoining backyard was packed with dozens more.

Beekeepers were screening in the stinging insects Wednesday night so the hives could be taken from the Chinese immigrant who raised them.

“All rules of good urban beekeeping and of common sense have been ignored here,” said Andrew Cote, president of the New York City Beekeepers Association. “I thought I’ve seen it all in urban beekeeping and this surprised me.”

Chen insisted he didn’t know of any regulations and was raising the stingers as a hobby, even as cops and beekeepers said the operation looked like a business.

“I used to be a beekeeper in mainland China,” said Chen. “That’s all I want to do.”

The city legalized beekeeping in March 2010. Beekeepers don’t need licenses, but their hives must be registered. Owners of unregistered hives face fines of up to $2,000 each. About 200 hives have been registered, Cote said.