A hive of honey bees has put a Douglaston apiarist in a sticky situation.
When the city’s Department of Health lifted a ban on beekeeping last year, John Bettingill was all set to start his own hive at his employer’s workshop tucked away on 233rd Place by Little Neck Bay.
Last month the property owner, TimesLedger cartoonist Tip Sempliner, received a DOH citation for not providing the hive with an adequate water supply.
A violation could have stung Sempliner for up to $2,000, but a DOH spokeswoman said the notice of violation was changed to a warning..
“That’s a nasty thing to throw at someone,” he said.
Bettingill said when he took a class with the New York Beekeepers Association two years ago, there were no regulations governing the practice in the city; everything he learned at the class focused on caring for his European honey bees, which he hoped would produce a tasty bounty. He ordered his supplies and started to build the wooden hive that now sits in the foliage behind the fence of Sempliner’s home.
The bee enthusiast registered the hive with the city in May of last year, and now he estimates he has about 50,000 bees churning out honey in the hive. With that size colony, he said, he could harvest about 150 pounds of the sweet stuff.
The summons states the inspector knocked on Sempliner’s door with no response, but the cartoonist said he was home at the time. After finding out about the fine, he contacted City Councilman Dan Halloran’s office.
A spokesman for Halloran said he would not speculate as to what the inspector did or did not see, but he did call to question the severity of the fine.
“That’s a lot to pay for a hobby,” said Steve Stites, Halloran’s spokesman. “It’s a very hefty fine that seems disproportionate. We have people who have misdemeanors or felonies who get bailed out for less.”
Stites went on to say he felt this was a case of over-regulation. “It’s another way for the city to raise revenue. We’re always concerned about the financial impact the city leaves on our middle-class constituents,” he said.
Aside from the fact that he claims there was and is a water dish next to the hive, Sempliner couldn’t help to point out the cool breeze wafting in through his back door off the bay.
“I don’t know how many gallons of water are in Little Neck Bay, but it’s connected to the Long Island Sound, which is connected to the Atlantic Ocean,” Sempliner said. Bettingill said the bees will drink saltwater, but that it is not without consequences.
“Basically, they make salty honey,” he said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@
©2011 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.