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Un-BEE-lievable: NYC Fines Man $2,000 For Not Watering His Hive

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- This story probably falls into the category of Ripley's "bee-lieve" it or not.

The Bloomberg administration socked a Queens man with a hefty fine for failing to water his beehive, reports CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.

It's a new one in the annals of city government. The cash-strapped Bloomberg administration has mounted a "sting operation" against city beekeepers -- ticketing a Douglaston man an unbelievable $2,000 for not watering his beehive.

"It's outrageous. It's difficult to understand how this could happen," Tip Sempliner said.

And here's why: there is a beehive waterer a few feet from the hive.

When asked if it's logical to assume the bees could fly two feet to get the water, Sempliner said, "I don't know if they'd bother. They could just step out of the hive and fall in the water."

But that's not all. Sempliner's property is right on Little Neck Bay and he has several fresh water ponds nearby, so if the bees don't like their water dish. There are many other bee-utiful options.

"I felt sorry for the inspector. I thought we should probably buy him some glasses," Sempliner said.

The hive actually belongs to Sempliner's friend, Jon Pettingill, who said the beehive waterer has been there since the hive was put up over a year ago.

"It does seem like the city is a little revenue hungry and trying to bring it in wherever they can," Pettingill said.

Queens Councilman Daniel Halloran agreed.

"This is another example of the city going out of its way to collect revenue at the expense of our citizens. There are criminals who get cases in city criminal court who don't have a $500 fine, let alone a $2,000 … this is absolutely absurd," Halloran said.

Sempliner's message to Mayor Michael Bloomberg is simple: you can catch more bees with honey than you can with vinegar -- or in this case a city summons. He said City Hall should dismiss it.

Apparently the mayor agrees – you can catch more bees with honey, within limits. Because after Kramer called, a decision was made to change the violation to a "warning."

Why, asked Kramer? Because, said a mayoral spokesman, officials "thought it through."

Will New York City stop at nothing to get cash from residents? What do you think? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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