Bee swarms around midtown health food store

FW: Bees

The NYPD responded to remove a swarm of about 8,000 bees that landed on the glass storefront of Fresh & Co. on West 57th Street between Sixth and Fifth avenues in Manhattan on June 29, 2014.

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The NYPD's go-to bee wrangler was able to remove a swarm that had collected beneath a midtown health food restaurant's sign Sunday morning.

Anthony Planakis, an NYPD detective known in the force as Tony Bees, was called in around 2 p.m. to remove a swarm of about 8,000 bees that landed on the glass storefront of Fresh & Co. on West 57th Street between Sixth and Fifth avenues.

His explanation for the swarm: "Basically congestion."

Planakis explained that the original hive, likely within 150 feet of the swarm, was too crowded for the bees to smell their queen's scent, leading them to birth a new queen.

"When this queen picks up on the fact that there's another queen or another leader being born, she'll take off with about 30% of the hive and try and start a new hive," Planakis said.

He called Sundays's call an "average" swarm.

Andreas Andreou, the manager at Fresh & Co., said there was a larger number of bees scattered along the length of the front window earlier when the NYPD was called before 12:30 p.m.

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"In here, everybody was scared," Andreou said . "Nobody could go in and out."

Eventually, the bees tucked themselves into a corner of the window and business was able to resume, with a few customers stopping to take pictures.

For friends Jan-Willem Poels and Lilian Kreutzberger, the bees were no barrier to lunch.

"My dad at some point was a beekeeper," said Poels, a 45-year-old seller at a Dutch design company from Prospect Lefferts Gardens. "I do know a little bit about it."

Poels was able to assuage Kreutzberger's fears of getting stung.


"He told me these are bees, not wasps," said the 29-year-old Lower East Side artist.

To remove the bees, Planakis, dressed in jeans, work boots and a T-shirt, climbed a ladder to the cluster, sprayed them down then vacuumed them into a trap. He then hung the trap atop the ladder to get the rest of the bees to smell the queen's pheromones and bunch up so he could vacuum them again. He said the bees would likely be taken someplace upstate.

Planakis, who has worked around bees for 40 years, with 20 of them under the NYPD, said the harsh winter did not bring down the bee population and that there is a lot of pollen and nectar for them.

"What I've seen so far," he said, "it's been really busy."

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