PELHAM, N.Y. -- Tony Planakis, aka "Tony Bees," a former NYPD detective who used to scoop up wayward bees for the police department, was busy in Pelham Thursday trying to wrangle 750 pounds of tree and bees into submission.
The buzzing trouble started when a tree contractor was trying to remove a tree near the intersection of Irving Place and Cliff Avenue when they spotted the beehive. The contractor, who is a neighbor of Tony Bees in Sandy Hook, Conn., gave the expert a call for help.
"Man, when I arrived and saw how large the hive was I knew we were in for some work," he said with a laugh.
Tony Bees said he got into a bucket truck with a worker to reach the hive.
After wrapping the hive in fiberglass bags and a burlap wrap, the worker very carefully began cutting away the section of tree with the hive in order to keep the bees from swarming, he said.
"We had to cut the tree in small sections so I could transport them back to Connecticut and so we wouldn't disturb the hive," Tony Bees said. "With the warm weather today if they woke up they wouldn't have any food because nothing is blooming and they would die."
Saying it was like performing surgery, they were finally able to get the tree pieces down to around 500 pounds and used ropes to lower them to the ground to his truck, Tony Bees said.
The whole process took almost three hours and closed down the roadway while they were working, he added.
The whole ordeal was just another day at work for the former detective who was busy solving crimes and saving bees for 40 years this month, he said.
"I'm at home right now trying to figure out how to get this huge piece of tree and bee hive hanging up by myself," he laughed. "It's not going to be easy."
Helping save bees all started for Tony Bees when his strict Greek father had him helping with his hobby back in the 70s. After being stung a couple of times, he learned quickly how to handle himself around bees. He took the trade with him to the NYPD where he earned the nickname Tony Bees for being able to remove bees from just about anywhere they were found.
After retiring, he has continued to run a business removing nuisance beehives and making honey.
He said Thursday's event was especially hard because of the location in the tree. But what he really wanted to talk about was how he never wears a bee suit during his removals.
"I know how to handle myself and the bees," he said.
TonyBees can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .