Bees have Chinatown abuzz as another swarm drops in


Photo and Article By Jefferson Siegel

On Monday afternoon, the heart of Chinatown came to a grinding halt when 15,000 bees swarmed the top of a lamppost. Mott St. between Bayard and Pell Sts. was closed for several hours as the bees covered the top of the lamppost midblock.

In the late afternoon, Police Officer Tony Planakis, a.k.a. “Tony Bees,” right, climbed into the cherry picker bucket of the Fire Department’s Ladder 1 truck and was raised up to the swarm. There, covered in a protective suit, he sprayed a mixture of sugar water to calm the bees, then gently removed the queen.

He then brushed the swarm into a large plastic bucket. He estimated there were five pounds of bees.

Planakis and fellow beekeeper Andrew Cote figure that, over the last two weeks, they’ve been called to respond to one swarm a day throughout the city, including three in the Chinatown area alone.

“They’re not here for the cheap bags,” Cote joked.

Planakis surmised there are more novice beekeepers around the city and, in general, there is an increased interest in honeybees.

Also, last March, the city lifted a ban against beekeeping.