Massive Swarm of Bees Removed From Tree in Astoria

By Jeanmarie Evelly on May 7, 2014 7:03pm 

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 Anthony Planakis, the NYPD's resident bee-catcher, estimates there were between 30,000 to 36,000 bees.
Swarm of Bees Removed From Tree in Astoria
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ASTORIA — More than 30,000 bees were removed from a tree in Queens on Wednesday, according to the NYPD's bee expert — who said the swarm might be the biggest he's taken down in his 20 years on the job.

"It was a massive swarm," said Anthony Planakis — also known as "Tony Bees" — who estimated that there were 30,000 to 36,000 bees swarming the branches of a cherry tree on 28th Avenue near 48th Street in Astoria.

Planakis used a bucket truck to approach the buzzing mass, which was located about 13 feet up in the tree. But he didn't immediately realize how many insects there were until he got closer.

"This thing was huge. I didn’t really know until I got up in the air," he said, saying the realization was akin to the iconic scene in "Jaws."

"I looked at the guy and said, 'We're gonna need a bigger truck,'" he quipped.

Planakis said he used a vacuum to humanely remove the insects, noting that the method doesn't harm the bees. The job took two and half hours, with about 12 pounds of bees removed in total.

He said he doesn't know where the swarm originated from. Two hives were spotted on the roof of a nearby building, but it was unclear if the insects came from there.

The bees will be moved this weekend to an apiary in upstate New York, Planakis said.

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