More bad buzz for 58-year-old Yi Gin Chen, the Chinese immigrant who collected 45 hives with nearly 3 million live bees in his back yard. Yesterday we learned that Chen, a so-called "bee hoarder," had his bee army seized from his driveway in Corona, Queens after neighbors complained and it was determined his hives were unregistered. Now the honey pot thickens: Chen has been accused of diluting his honey with corn syrup in order to sell more than half a ton of it to a bakery for $6,000.
"He gave them a sample, and it was just fine," Andrew Cote, of the New York City Beekeeper’s Association, tells the Post. "Then they bought the honey from him, and it turned out he had cut it severely with corn syrup. We tasted it, and you could tell right away. It was the old bait and switch." Chen, however, calls that "an absolute baldface lie," and claims that Cote "demanded $1,250 for finding a buyer for the hives and helping prep them for removal."
Whatever the case may be, it's also come to light that Chen's massive bee collection had spilled over beyond his residence. The Daily News reports that Chen also keeps another six beehives stashed behind his Astoria sushi restaurant Kitaku. He already faces a $2,000 fine for each of 45 hives at his residence, and could bee stung with more fines now that his Astoria apiary has been exposed.
Chen, who used to be a beekeeper in China, admits things got out of hand, conceding yesterday, "I don’t have the time or resources to do this." The raid comes as a relief for neighbors who are tired of all this beesness. “It’s like the Amazon jungle with this guy,” neighbor Ted Kouris tells the News. "I’ve been bitten three times already. It’s to the point where it’s ridiculous. Am I going to have piranhas next?"