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Bee Swarm Outside Staten Island School Evades NYPD

By Nicholas Rizzi | May 14, 2013 7:24pm
 Police responded to a nearly 15,000 swarm that was near a school in Great Kills.
Bee Swarm in Great Kills
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GREAT KILLS — A 4-pound swarm of honeybees massed on the trees outside a Great Kills school on Tuesday and later dodged the NYPD, officials said.

The swarm of nearly 15,000 bees first stopped at a tree directly in front of the St. Clare School, 151 Lindenwood Rd., as parents were dropping off their kids at the school Tuesday morning.

“We were like, 'What the heck is that'?" said Robin Lizzara, 43, whose son Harris, 10, goes to the school."I thought it was just a hive."

By the afternoon, the swarm had moved to a tree in the backyard of the neighboring 143 Lindenwood Rd., and police were called in to help.

The NYPD’s resident bee-catcher Anthony Planakis, nicknamed “Tony Bees,” raced over about 2 p.m., but while waiting for a truck to arrive to lift him up to the level of the bees, the buzzing insects took off yet again.

The bees appeared headed toward another group of trees, but when Planakis looked for them, he couldn't find them.

“This is the first time a swarm's ever gotten away from me,” said Planakis, who has been beekeeping for 35 years and working as the NYPD's bee-catcher for nearly 20 years.

The bees most likely left their overcrowded hive to find a new home — and given the large size of the swarm, there are likely others nearby, Planakis said.

“There’s definitely going to be more swarms coming in the area,” he said.

Planakis said residents shouldn't be alarmed, because the honeybees are usually docile. They swarm together to keep the queen safe while scouts look for a good spot for their new hive, and they don't usually attack unless the queen is in danger, he said.

“They’re not looking to hurt anybody,” he said. “They’re looking for a new home and being protective of only the queen.”

Last year, Planakis had his busiest year in his 35-year career of beekeeping, responding to 33 swarms, but Planakis said he was expecting things to calm down this spring.

“This year’s going to be a lot slower,” Planakis said. “It’s a late start. It’s a cold spring. This is normal.”