Over 40,000 bees were discovered under a woman's bedroom floor in Flushing, Queens last night, according to retired NYPD bee detective Anthony "Tony Bees" Planakis. "This was a bad one," Planakis told us this morning during a phone interview. "The bees were in a cavity right underneath her bedroom."
Planakis says the woman, Mary Jean Dyczko, contacted him in July of last year because she saw a "humungous" amount of bees swarming in and out of her house near her bedroom. But he declined to do the extraction out of concerns the bees would not survive the winter. Planakis instead asked Dyczko to wait until spring, and last night he came out of retirement for one last job (but probably not).
"I'm getting too old for this," Planakis says.
The extraction took over three hours, and involved scaffolding, a camera, a stethoscope, a heat gun, and a special vacuum to separate the bees from the hive. Fortunately Planakis was able to recover the queen bee unharmed, and he intends to take the hive upstate, where a retired NYC firefighter/beekeeper will take them under his wing.
"I'm very relieved they're no longer in my house," Dyczko tells us, explaining that she lived with the knowledge of a bee hive under her bedroom for almost a year. "Thanks goodness I didn't know there was about 40,000. I had no idea there were that many. When he opened up the boards and I saw the size of that hive it was amazing. I'm glad I know it now as opposed to then because I probably wouldn't be living there! It was pretty frightening."
Planakis just turned 53, and while he says he's retired, he explains that he's not "retired retired." He's no longer with the NYPD—he claims he was falsely accused of stealing and selling bees—but says he's willing to help if the city is confronted with a serious bee emergency.
"Public safety is my main concern. One out of every six people is allergic to a bee sting," Planakis says. "When people see a swarm in Manhattan, they don't see that truck coming down 57th Street, they only remember what happened to them last year when they got rushed to the hospital after they got stung, and they run right into traffic."
But Planakis tells us he grew weary of the dismissive attitude he says he encountered at the NYPD. "When I tried to bring this point [about public safety] across, they looked at me and laughed it off. I said, 'You know something, you have the luxury of sitting here behind a desk, hanging out in an air conditioned office. You're not out there with these people. You've been off patrol for a damn long time. You really need a taste of patrol.'"
Would he ever rejoin the NYPD if they asked him back? "I think that's the furthest thing from their mind," Planakis says. "A couple of people have asked me if I miss it. I tell them I miss the clowns but I don't miss the circus."