UPPER WEST SIDE — A massive swarm of 18,000 bees formed on a West 72nd Street tree Monday afternoon, drawing a crowd of onlookers before a police specialist arrived to move the insects.
The swarm, weighing roughly 4 pounds, amassed in a tree along the busy street between Broadway and West End Avenue.
A local resident noticed the swarm and called Andrew Coté of the NYC Beekeepers Association, who then called the police.
"If it were a less congested area, I might have shaken the tree," said Coté, but with throngs of people out enjoying Memorial Day, he deemed it unsafe to disperse them by himself.
The bees surround their queen and hold onto each other's backs, explained Coté. Ultimately, they're looking for a more suitable home then a small tree branch and they could land somewhere even less convenient for nearby residents, like someone's windowsill, he said.
Detective Anthony Planakis, the NYPD's resident beekeeper, said that once an NYPD bucket truck arrived he would reach into the hive "ever so gently" and then deposit the swarm into a box to transport it away from the area.
"This is swarm season," said Planakis, who has been an NYPD beekeeper for 38 years.
"We had a really heavy pollen season here," he said, warning it could lead to more swarms like the West 72nd Street one.