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NYPD's Former Bee Wrangler Stings Beleaguered Department Over Scandal

By Kathleen Culliton | May 19, 2016 3:09pm
 Det. Anthony Planakis removed a 5-pound swarm of bees from a playground fence in Parkchester on Thursday.
Det. Anthony Planakis removed a 5-pound swarm of bees from a playground fence in Parkchester on Thursday.
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Courtesy of Anthony Planakis

BRONX — The NYPD's former beekeeper stung by accusations of stealing bees during his emergency swarm response days said Thursday the now-scandal-scarred department should have spent more time scrutinizing its own top brass.

Anthony Planakis, known as "Tony Bees," came out of retirement Thursday morning to remove a five pound swarm from Virginia Playground in The Bronx.  He left the NYPD in 2014 amid accusations that he was using bees from wayward swarms to make honey that he sold for profit.

“People were accusing me of stealing bees when they should have been looking at all the high ranking members of the job taking diamonds and money,” said Anthony Planakis, 54, referencing the continually expanding federal probe into an alleged pay-for-favors scandal within the NYPD and the mayor's office.

Planakis denied using any bees from swarms he was dispatched to collect to make honey and said he never sold any of those bees — which are technically property of the NYPD once they're collected.

“I wouldn’t sell those bees, I’m wearing a uniform," said Planakis, who spent 18 years on the force. “Those bees are being adopted, if you’re a worthy beekeeper.”

Planakis said he was called to The Bronx playground site Thursday morning by a rep from the city's Parks Department.

He vacuumed up a swarm of 15,000 bees from the playground fence near the corner of McGraw and Virginia Avenues at around 9:30 a.m. — and relocated them to a new hive in Newtown, Connecticut later in the day.

“I go into my zen mode,” said Planakis, who wore just a tank top as he sucked the swarm away from the Bronx playground.  

“I control my breathing, my heart rate, I am in complete control.”

He reported that no one was injured during the removal.

Planakis’ career as a bee-swarm response expert began in 1995 when a group of bees swarmed a spruce tree in The Bronx. Using only a pair of leather gloves, Tony Bees removed the queen from her hive and the rest of the swarm followed. He wasn’t stung once.

The legalization of beekeeping in 2010 caused an uptick in amateur apiaries and Tony Bees became very busy. In the spring of 2011 alone he relocated 33 swarms.  

His largest swarm was in Astoria in 2014, where he removed 12 pounds of bees, or approximately 35,000 insects, from 48th Street.

Since retirement, Tony Bees has been sustaining his hobby by selling his honey to followers on Instagram. Planakis said he’s not selling to make a profit, adding that all the money he makes goes back into equipment.

He added that he keeps bees because it makes him happy.

“These are my babies, I love working with them,” said Planakis. “If I could, I’d have them in the bed with me, sleeping at night.”